Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a huge horse lover – a horse dork, as my husband affectionately calls me. Growing up, I spent long stretches of time toddling around the paddocks of my grandparents’ horse farm in Pleasant Valley, NY: a 23-acre plot of land that felt a lot like heaven to someone who loved the smell of manure and oiled leather; who prayed for invitations to wake before dawn to feed watermelon rinds and corn cobs to a shaggy band of old thoroughbreds.
Before I could walk, my grandfather would perch me atop whomever he had stabled in his five-stall barn: Beau, a fat-bellied bay; Chance, a jittery chestnut; Moonlore, his regal gray gelding whom he’d hunt in the rolling hills of neighboring Millbrook. Someone once said – or maybe I read it somewhere – that if you ask a horse to run, he’ll run until he lays down and dies. It’s a snippet that has stayed with me for years; they’re such loyal, forgiving creatures and growing up surrounded by these remarkable animals has shaped who I am and how I see the world.
Although I went out on a few fox hunts with Grandpa Hank, I gravitated more towards the show ring and spent my junior years chasing equitation and hunter points up and down the east coast. What I loved best though was bringing along green horses, making sure they had a good start and learned the basics of teamwork and trust. It’s something I still do to this day…when I’m not bringing along green clients and chasing my two boys up and down the roads of our hometown.
A few years ago, when I was taking a break from riding to have my boys, I came across Shelli Breidenbach‘s stunning and stylized horse photography in a little boutique in Westchester. Although she definitely has her own thing going on, her photos reminded me a bit of Steven Klein’s moody horse photography, which I also adore (his Viva 02 will someday be mine). I immediately snapped up a small print of her “Athos & Gambler” (pictured above); not only did I love the subject matter, but it somehow felt “Mother & Son” to me. Plus I have a thing for bays.
While I love beautiful things, what I love more are meaningful things and I try to fill my home with items that matter, that feel really personal. It’s not always easy to do that when you’re working on short-term installations or scrambling to find decor on a deadline. These pieces typically take years to curate.
After moving to our new home, there are a plethora of empty walls to fill and I’m currently attempting to persuade my husband that the house is lacking two HUGE horse portraits. Although he’s a good sport about the whole horse thing – not only is it incredibly dangerous, but it’s also a pricey passion that can consume large swaths of time – I’m sensing he’s not quite ready to go “life-size equine” in our living room. He keeps nudging me to “explore Impressionism,” or saying, “how about something without a horse?” when I repeatedly show him the same proposal of “options.”
In the meantime, while I wait for my husband to come around to a pair of horses flanking the mantle, I’ll continue obsessing over which pic will go where…