Imagine standing in a huge grassy pasture on a cool fall morning in Western Oregon, surrounded by more than 100 horses, as the sunrise peeks over the eastern horizon and bathes everything in spectacular morning light. The surrounding hills begin to glow with fall color as the sun rises, sparkling off nearby water and the dew on the grass.
Or relaxing in the shade of an oak grove and observing the herd interaction as the heat slowly fades from the day and the horses move out into the meadows to graze at sunset. Horses line up on the western horizon, backlit by the setting sun as they make their way to the water trough.
Photographers from Oregon, Washington, California, and Georgia experienced all of this recently at Duchess Sanctuary. For the third year, the sanctuary offered professional and amateur photographers the opportunity to immerse themselves into life with more than 190 rescued horses and capture every moment on camera. Sunrise and sunset sessions took advantage of the most ideal outdoor photography hours, and the weather cooperated for the most part.
In addition to the horses, attendees also got a chance to see some of the native wildlife that also calls the 1120 acre sanctuary home, including jackrabbits, wild turkeys, egrets, and white tailed deer.
Participants have described the opportunity as “spectacular”, “inspiring”, and “a top 5 life experience”. But the workshops are more than just rewarding for the photographers. They are a vital fundraising event, session fees help with the lifetime care costs for the 190 horses and 5 donkeys who live at the sanctuary. More than $2500 has been raised in 2016 thanks to the shutterbugs who have attended.
Paying it forward even further, many of the photographers donate their work for the annual Duchess Sanctuary calendar, another fundraiser for the horses.