{In Pictures}

“We take pictures as a return ticket to a moment otherwise gone.” ~Unknown

People ask me how I got into photography. I’ve always loved the same things as the next person… the pretty, scenic overlooks, rugged mountains, showy morning and evening skies… but when I moved to Havre a few years back, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I couldn’t see definition or change in landscapes or find beauty in the old, brown wheat rows. I had to look for it, and you know how it goes when you look too hard for what you think is the right thing, you miss something even better?

I’ve had that moment a lot in photography. One night, as I was out driving hoping to catch a sunset, I came across this old, white horse. Honestly, he was homely, scarred, pink skin around the eyes and nose, dirty and nothing spectacular. And just as I was about to speed on by, he turned in the setting sun, and he came to life in the light. And something spoke to me. Like once he was proud. Like once he was young. Like once he was loved. And I slammed on the brakes, jumped out of the truck and proceeded to take about 50 pictures of him. It was sort of an amateur photographer’s glory moment.

Whether or not the pictures were amazing, or the content was right, or the lighting and processing was good, became irrelevant. I remember this moment teaching me a lesson: slow down and look a little closer. I was missing a lot of beauty looking for the grandiose.

I still pull over for pictures. Sunrises. Sunsets. Horses in a meadow. A child smiling. Reflective water. I’ve taken thousands of pictures over the last few years. And I’ve learned a lot about myself looking back on the moments since I picked up a camera.

I’ve shared in some beautiful moments being behind the lens. I’ve seen beautiful smiles of people that love one another. I’ve scenic places that take my breath away. I’ve seen my children grow. I found new love behind the lens. I found focus. Simple as that.

That’s what I’ve grown to love about photography, and it’s my hope to continue to share these pictures I take care with all of you as a return ticket to a moment that would’ve otherwise been gone.

Happy Trails~

Heather

Advertisements

{Ride}

Yesterday, as I was sitting in the alleyway of the barn watching Twist munch on his oats, listening to music, drinking a beer, and taking in the first signs of spring, I thought about my grandpa. It always hits me being in the barn, and especially this time of year, just how much I miss him after all these years. I don’t know if it’s the old, dust covered harness that hangs in the rafters, the pile of tack that needs oiled and cleaned, the smell of horses, leather, wet earth and oats, or maybe it’s the combination of all of it. And as my eyes drifted to the mountains and the landscapes of home, I wondered what he’d think about all this change since his passing; the change in the last place he called home, the mountains he left his childhood home of southeastern Montana for, the family that’s left here to carry on his legacy and name and dreams, yet working to forge their own and honor tradition. Would he liked what he saw? Would he be proud? I wished I could talk to him as the forty year old version of me and not the nineteen just once. To have five minutes with him to seek a little wisdom and insight about it all. About this life and what’s in store. And as I looked back at my horse finishing up the last bit of his grain, it hit me that if he was here, he’d say “just go ride, Heather Anne”.

And he’s right. It doesn’t matter what’s changed. It doesn’t matter what the future holds. It’s about living in the here and now and taking change in stride. And the best stride to take it in is that of an honest horse.

You see, Grandpa was right about a lot of things, but the one thing he was most right about is the therapy that comes from riding; the peace it brings.

So as spring slowly forges it’s way in the form of mud, rain, and little flowing rivers in the barnyard, I’ll wait patiently for those mountains to thaw and reveal their change they undoubtedly hold. And I will ride down the muddy roads close to home until then, and think of him when I do.

Miss you, Popi❤️

{Horse Tradin’}

It’s springtime… no wait. Not in my neck of the woods anyway. It’s January 78th, 2018, but that’s another story for another day.  Anywho… What I meant to say is that it’s horse trading season again for the dude ranch, and given the going price of horses these days, we should’ve spent less money on diesel for snow plowing, starved the kids, forgone Christmas, hit the millionaire jackpot and hocked granny’s fine china. All I can figure (and hope for) after reading through some of these for sale ads on Facebook and Craigslist is that these people must be in dire need of furthering their educatin’. Because if you’re going to ask $10,000 for a horse, but you can’t bother to check the punctuation and spelling in your ad, then friend, I’m probably not real interested.  There is a difference between knowing your nuts and knowing you’re nuts.

Uncle Jack always says that when it comes to horse trading that “you don’t have a good starting price until you’ve insulted the owner. Not the horse, the owner.”  I chewed on that thought, and after reading through some recent sale ads, I figure he’s on to something.

Not that I’m an expert on your horse you’re itching to part with, but I’m willing to go out on a limb and bet that there are some other cowboys and cowgirls out there thinking the same thing.  Here’s an example of an ad I came across while scrolling:

“For-year-old sorrel gelding. Green broke great foundation, great on trails no Buck no rear. Needs to be finished. Very willing ties all day trailer front shoes. If interested please call. $3500.”

I assume the horse is a four year old? Green broke? We all have different ideas on that subject. You can read the rest for yourselves… Sorta leaves you scratching your watch and winding your butt, doesn’t it?

Example 2:

“Selling my 2 yrs. old paint mare,She’s registerable, she’s halter broke, leads, trailers, she’s a little clumsy with her feet , but she just needs some training with her feet.
She’s about 141/2 hands. She’s had a saddle put on her , and she was ridden , so you could call her green broke. $1500”

I don’t know about you, but there ain’t nothing better than a clumsy footed horse. Next…

“Gentle Quarter Horse Tricolored Paint Gelding, 9 years old, 15 hands tall, 1150 lbs. Has a very nice disposition with   good conformation. He is a gentle horse. He steps right out, no spurs needed. He is bold on the trails, can be ridden out by himself and can be taken anywhere. Horse has a very nice disposition. No buck, bite or kick. Also, he has been ridden downtown. I am almost 70 years of age and I enjoy riding “Horse”. If you know how to ride a horse, you will enjoy riding “Horse”. He works very well in the round pen, his ground work is excellent and he is easy to work with. Awesome mountain trail horse. He walks out nicely on the trail. Goes through rivers and streams, over pack bridges and crosses over downfall easily. “Horse” has been on several back country pack trips in the wilderness. You can lead the pack string off of him or you can use him as a pack horse. Also, he has been roped off of and has moved cattle from summer to winter pasture and back. “Horse” has a friendly disposition and is willing to please. He learns new skills quickly. He stands quietly at the mounting block to get on and off. “Horse” loads/unloads into the trailer easily, and he stands quietly for the farrier and was just recently shoed and recently had a vet check and his teeth floated. Must go to a good home. I want him to go to an amazing home. I will be picky. He is for sale, not on sale. $9,500 cash”

Dang, he really has done it all.  Did I mention he bucks a little high and to the right? And he really needs that $9,500 to pay off a hospital bill?

I must be out of the loop these days, because I keep seeing pictures and videos accompanying these ads that show the person standing on their horse, or bouncing big beach balls, or wearing t-rex costumes while riding. I mean, there really ain’t nothing handier than being able to wear a real nice t-rex costume while riding down the wilderness trails enjoying nature.  It’s also extremely useful keeping a pissed off mama cow at bay while roping her wylie little calf for doctoring.

Bottom line, you can think you are showcasing your horse’s mad skillz, but really, you’re just showing me your horse is the smart one. So kudos… Heck, maybe he really is worth that $10,000 price tag.  After all, he’s survived you.

Give me a horse with heart; a horse of no particular color or background, but full of try and grit and good; one that will give me an honest day’s work, keep me humble, and teach me.  I’ll pass on that fancy bred, chubby halter horse for $10,000 this time. Thanks just the same.

Happy Trails & I hope you’re a little more successful in your horse trading ventures than we’ve been…

{Love Song}

She knew she loved him when home went from being a place to being a person. ~E. Leventhal

The sunset glowed through the windshield while we maneuvered down the long, bumpy road in your old truck. But it wasn’t the warmth from the sun I felt. It was happiness. It was your love. I looked at you and just smiled as you held my hand. I didn’t want the moment to end. I want to take the long way around every night, if it means more moments like this with you. Moments when it feels like every song that plays on the radio is timely and beautiful, and every song you hear feels like it was meant for the one holding your hand… like all the love songs become our love song.

Next To You, Next To Me driving down the road in that old pick up truck, there just ain’t no place I’d rather be. So, Take Me the Long Way Home, because those moments When You Say Nothing At All speak right right to my heart. The smile on your face lets me know that you need me. You really did Have Me From Hello. And if I had only One Friend left, I’d want it to be you. Because you’re Unforgettable, that’s what you are.

And Now That I Found You, I don’t want to be without you. You see the real me, no in between. These moments are made for Making Memories of Us, and I will always be here for you. I Love the Way You Love Me, and the way your eyes dance when you laugh. It makes me want More of You, again and again. I fall more in love with you than I’ve ever been.

I want the world to know, The Story of My Life, and that Only You Can Love Me This Way. I Need More of You changing my rain into sun. I know we have The Start of Something Good because your love makes me feel like a Millionaire.

You’re a like sweet music made when the bow hits the fiddle, like Right on the Money. You’re my Soft Place to Fall, and I want to be yours, too. Because if I have my way, I’m going to love you ‘Til All the Rivers Run Dry. I promise that Forever is As Far As I’ll Go.

I’m Makin’ Plans that include you. I want you to Name all of the Dogs, and watch every sunrise and sunset with you underneath these Western Skies. We really are Two in Million, and it’s the Greatest Love Story I’ve ever read, like one for the history books.

So, Could I Have This Dance for the rest of my life? Because I really Could Not Ask for More than to love you Forever and Ever, Amen.

I Will Always Love You…

{Tough}

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life. ~Winston Churchill

Not everybody will like you. Not everybody will agree with your choices. Not everyone will admire that you’ve gone against the grain. Not everyone will like that you’ve learned to kick ass and take names. Not everyone knows or will like your reasons why. You don’t need their approval. You just need to know you’re doing what’s best for you. Let the rest of the world go hang. You do you.

#nevada #wildhorses #mustangs #loveyourlifeorchangeit #liveauthentic #

{Okay}

Look around you. How many people do you think are settling? Probably a helluva lot. People settle into okay relationships, okay jobs, okay friends and an okay life. But why? Because it’s comfortable. Okay pays the bills and provides a warm bed at night. Some exist in okay and that’s fine. But guess what? Okay is not thrilling. Okay is not passion. Okay isn’t life changing or unforgettable or something we can’t live without. Okay is not the reason you risk absolutely everything for the slightest possibility of success and the amazing feeling that happens when it comes to pass. Okay is just… okay. Are you just okay?

This picture was two falls ago living in Havre, and I remember loving this day, albeit long. And I remember having this exact thought about my life. And I longed for a change in every corner of it. Change is definitely not meant to be easy, but for me, okay wasn’t cutting it anymore. I wanted more days just like this. And granted, every day since I made changes hasn’t looked like this, but the majority of my days are absolutely beautiful. I have two amazing kids, good horses, a loyal pup, a strong, loving family, and I have for the first time, a love I don’t want to live without. Okay works. But for me, it just wasn’t enough anymore. It wasn’t about wanting what others had. It was about knowing God put dreams inside my heart I could no longer ignore. Maybe they haven’t all come to fruition. Maybe they won’t in this great, tangible form I can see, but maybe just one word will inspire you to shake out of okay and live to your fullest potential. That’s my hope for you and for me. ❤️

Happy Trails~

Heather

{Re-Evaluate}

Re-Evaluation

Sometimes little moments in life sort of gut punch you, make you doubt yourself, your worth. Some nobody’s unforgotten words leave you jaded. Maybe you’re looking for a way to fit into your skin again. Trying to find a way through. That’s when you need to re-evaluate; remind yourself you are enough. That’s when you need to find some level ground. Pack away the good and just leave the rest. That’s when you get in your truck, grab the wheel and point her west, crank a little Miranda or Pink or ZZ Ward, and drive. Let the wind mess your hair, sing at the top of your lungs, and just drive. And remember that you aren’t some nobody’s unforgotten words. Re-evaluate. And don’t settle. Don’t apologize for your feelings or for who and what you are. Remember the stuff you’re made of. ✌🏼

Happy Trails~

Heather

{Skin In The Game}

One of the most beautiful effects of living your passion is that it inspires others to live theirs.

I believe this wholeheartedly. It’s catching. It isn’t about wanting what others have, and duplicating that. It’s about you deciding to throw some skin in the game of your life and give your own dreams a shot.

We get one life on this earth. It really is up to us to live it as beautifully and bravely as we can. And we’re darn fools not to. We all get a little lost. We all go a little crazy. Sometimes we travel through a little madness to find ourselves on the other side. So what? There’s some beauty in that wild, in that unknown.

Sometimes I have to remind myself of these very things. I write them down here as a reminder to you and to me, to go a little wild from time to time. Change up your life if you need to. Learn the lesson. Try again. Start fresh. Be gracious, humble and kind, and pray your little butt off, or your big one, or whatever. Hold what needs holding and mend the fences that mending. Love whomever you want to love. Just be authentically you.

Because, one trip, just one, is what we get here. There will be others that say it’s just an interim, that there’s so much more on the other side of this life. That may be true, but it does matter what we do with the time we’re given here. Our existence in this moment leaves some sort of mark somewhere, an impact.

So, in the words of Jack Kerouac, “climb that goddamn mountain”. I’m guessing the view will be pretty awesome. Go after what gives you goosebumps. Because you weren’t born to just pay those danged old bills and die.

Happy Trails~

Heather Anne

{Winter Funk}

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know when to just pull my lip over my head and swallow…

Riding my horse is a wondrous salve for my salty soul, and the salty soul is getting saltier with every falling snowflake. Winter is getting to me this year. I think it may have something to do with the fourth broken snow shovel, armpit deep snow, and the 20 foot snowbanks outside my door. I’ve seriously thought about packing up and heading south for the winter, but then I remember things like snakes and scorpions and other prickly things, and I scowl one more time at the snow piling up as I longingly peer toward the barn and my horse. Somewhere out there, buried in that icy snowbank is my good mood and creativity.

I even wrote a poem about it. It goes a little something like this…

Wind. Snow. Rain. Snow. Ice. Frozen gates. Broken plows. Hungry horses. Snow. Snow. More snow. Rain again and snow. A giant bag of winter suck. The end.

Don’t worry, I’ll make it more of a haiku next time, or possibly a soft and gently delivered limerick. But for now, you get what you get. I find myself looking back on warmer days longing for that mountain trail to unfold before me between my horse’s ears. I miss the sunrises and sunsets. I keep thinking with every cup of morning coffee, I’ll rise above the funk, that somehow the dark brew I sip is a magic mood enhancer, that I’ll rule the world. As it turns out, I only end up managing to wear pants, be semi nice for about an hour and use somewhat appropriate language. Winter funk, I tell you.

But, alas… I know this too shall pass. I know it won’t be long before that old roan horse and I will be trekking down a dusty trail in the Bob, and I’ll forget this moment, this cranky mood, even existed. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to write better poetry and focus all that good energy into something more useful like knitting or doily making.

Hopefully the winter funk passes you by and you’re able to picture those summer mountain scenes, the adventures ahead of you, and still enjoy the moment you’re in.

Happy Trails~

Heather

{In the Blood}

February 3, 2018, marked the date of the annual Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center’s induction ceremony and fundraiser event held at the Best Western Heritage Inn in Great Falls, Montana. This year’s event was well attended by families across the state, and even some traveling out of state, to celebrate family members and friends induction into our great state’s western legacy and heritage.

Every year that I’ve attended this ceremony, I’m taken aback by the unique stories told by each new inductee, legacy and living. And as I have the chance to observe the room full of on-lookers, my heart swells, and occasionally a tear or two wells, at seeing the genuine pride each one has for their family’s honorable inductee being commemorated. It’s heartwarming. And it’s a good reminder of why I feel so strongly about the advancement of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame & Western Heritage Center.

Like its inductees, this organization isn’t without its own trials and troubles; most recently in search of a place to put down roots to commemorate our western heritage and its growing number of inductees has offered up some road blocks. It’s been a tough year on the group guiding and forging a positive path, sometimes feeling as if there would even be one.

But you know what makes this organization? The spirit of the people like the directors, volunteers, the board members and trustees and membership, all working together on their own time to see this through. To me, that’s the epitome of the cowboy and western spirit. The organization will have a future and a place because of that and these people that care. We may not know what that looks like just yet, but a room full of strong-willed, generational Montanans, cowboys, cowgirls, and Native Americans alike, will see it come to pass.

You see? It’s because deep down, we all have that will, the cowboy spirit, or heritage inside us. The very core of what drove our families to settle and ranch and muster up a life in Montana is inside all of us; that fighting, tenacious spirit. That room full of people celebrating their western ancestors proved just that. It’s in the blood. We’re born to survive, take a beating, and persevere. We’re weathered and tough and stronger because of the adversity we’ve all seen.

Our heritage is our legacy, and it will because of the grandmother that took the time teach her granddaughter to bead or tan a hide. Our heritage is strong because somewhere there’s still an old cowboy showing a young man how to gentle a colt and throw a mean head loop, and read the herd. Our heritage is strong because of bootmakers, leatherworkers, artists, cattlemen, horse trainers, teamsters, cowboys and cowgirls across this great state. Our heritage doesn’t wash out in the water, because it’s always in the blood. It’s in our blood.

We may not know what tomorrow holds, but one thing is certain, we have the makings to keep on keeping on. It’s just what we do as cowboys and cowgirls. There’s a whole other generation out there needing a vivid reminder of where they come from, a reminder of whose blood runs in their veins; someone to teach them how to work the land, ride a horse, hitch a team, plant crops, conservation and ethical land use. They desperately need mentors and teachers to remind them where they come from, remind them of what’s inside, so they know where to go and how to get there; to develop grit along the way. Tip your hat to that, then pull it down right, roll up your sleeves, nod your head, and get ready for the next ride.

Happy Trails~

Heather