Ashley and Alibi [Journey’s End Training Center]

I drove down a very long dirt road, but I really wasn’t that far from a Wal-Mart and the mall and the interstate and all the other elements of civilization. I was in the middle of nowhere, yet near to everything.  I wasn’t just driving down a road; I was heading to a retreat, a solace, a refuge. But I didn’t realize it at first. No, at first it just seemed like a normal dirt road leading to a normal barn with a couple normal horses.

Standing in the middle of a field (being eaten by mosquitoes and cut to pieces by briers), admiring the sunset and watching a lovely girl connect with her horse, I knew, I saw, I felt . . . a refuge.

At Journey’s End Racehourse Training Center in Advance, NC, Tom and Pam are training thoroughbreds and quarterhorses for their prize-winning careers. While out on the farm, I met some incredible horses – not only are they beautiful creatures, but I had no idea that a horse could cost more than a brand new BMW (talk about a whole new world!) – and navigated away from piles of horse manure. . . and, well, I saw beyond just training horses into the heart of the trainer. These people want to teach life lessons — not just horsemanship. They help navigate life’s hurdles, not just a few barrels on a track.

1. Don’t look down. If you do, thats when you’ll fall.

2. When facing a hurdle (no matter how insurmountable it might be), don’t look at it. Look past it to where you want to end up.

3. Look straight ahead. Not to either side. Don’t get distracted by everything around you. Just look straight ahead.

4. When you fall, get back up and try again. Don’t let a mistake defeat you.

5. Don’t step in the junk. Steer clear of what will make a mess.


P.S. This is Ashley’s mother’s coat, from back in her own rodeo days. Doesn’t Ashley look fabulous in it? And what a legacy!

P.P.S. I’ve always wanted to photograph beside a highway billboard. This was just beyond the horse pasture. Life goal: complete.

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  1. I am in awe! These photos are simply beautiful— all the more because I know how lovely Ashley is inside as well as outside! Thank you soooooooo much for allowing Darbey to come “along for the ride” on this one. Amazing!

  2. Yes, those lessons are very, very true. To riding, and a lot else. Amazing pictures, as usual 🙂 good for you for learning how to photograph horses. It’s not the easiest skill. 🙂

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