Katy Starr (00:01):
Hi, I'm Katy.
Dr. Tania Cubitt (00:02):
And I'm Dr. Cubitt. We're going Beyond the Barn. Come join us on this journey as we bust equine and livestock nutrition myths and interview some of the most intriguing experts in the country.
Katy Starr (00:15):
We'll go behind the scenes of how premium Western quality forage is grown and brought to your favorite farm and ranch retail store. We're so glad you're here.
Katy Starr (00:28):
Welcome back to another episode of Beyond the Barn and we are into 2023 and we're so excited to be here. Our next guest on today's episode, I'm really excited about today's guest. She is a lifelong horse enthusiast and a Texas-based equine photographer who travels coast to coast to capture the love between a horse and rider. She's been published and her images have graced the covers of multiple magazines that you're probably familiar with, including Cowgirl, Paint Horse Journal, The Equine Chronicle, and so many more. And I'm so glad to welcome Kirstie Jones of Kristie Marie Photography with us today. Welcome to the studio today!
Kirstie Jones (01:11):
Thank you so much Katy. I'm thrilled to be here! Thanks for having me.
Katy Starr (01:14):
We're so glad to have you. So you're a Texas based equine photographer, but you are actually originally from Oregon. So tell us a little bit more about where you grew up and how horses became a part of your life.
Kirstie Jones (01:28):
Yes, I am from the Pacific Northwest. I grew up just south of Portland, Oregon and I have been riding horses for as long as I can remember. My mom was a big horse lover who never had the opportunity to ride horses growing up. And so as soon as my older sister was old enough for lessons, she enrolled my older sister and I was begging to start lessons and so by about three years old I think I was, is when the instructor finally let me start riding lessons, and my sister didn't keep up with it but oh my goodness, I never stopped . I have only grown and grown in my love for horses since I was that horse obsessed little kid.
Katy Starr (02:13):
That is so sweet. I love that. So you've really, from the very beginning have just totally been in love with horses. Did your parents come from Oregon? Were they always in that area or?
Kirstie Jones (02:24):
My dad grew up in North Dakota and my mom grew up in the Bay Area in California. So they met in Oregon. And I grew up, you know, my life until I got to about college age, I grew up just south of Portland and did 4-H there and was very involved in like a lot of local equestrian clubs, whether it was 4-H or showing the, you know, pinto association and paint horse association up there through my youth.
Katy Starr (02:50):
That's so awesome. And so I have to ask you, do you or did you have a heart horse? Can you tell us about a horse that really just has been so incredibly special to you, just that once in a lifetime horse?
Kirstie Jones (03:04):
Yes! So when I was really young I started with dressage lessons and had a cute little pony who got me through dressage lessons and then I moved on more to the hunter jumper circuit and my first horse that I owned was a really, really great pony that you could do anything on. I did gaming on her and all the speed events like barrel racing, I did all of the performance events in 4-H and then I also rode on the Hunter jump circuit with that pony too. But it was kind of my step-up horse from that one that I would mark as my heart horse. So that was my first real show horse. His name was Tahoe. He was a paint and so I showed him on the paint horse circuits and the pinto because he is double registered, and that was the horse that I had throughout high school who, he was me in horse form.
Kirstie Jones (03:54):
I mean he helped me understand myself on such a deeper level, being able to relate to and connect to him. So Tahoe is the one that I credit as being my heart horse. I had to sell him when I went off to college. That was the deal with my parents. And so that was so heartbreaking on so many levels. But he went to the best home ever. I, to this day, keep in touch with his owner and that's been like 15 years now. So he's still doing great with the person that I sold him to. But that is really the one horse that changed my life.
Katy Starr (04:27):
I bet that was so hard, but how great is it that you still get to keep in touch with them and probably get to still see pictures of him and everything and knowing that he's in a good place with good people. I think you can't ask for any better in a situation like that. So that's really amazing. So you have quite a bit of experience, just like quite a range of experience in the equine discipline and everything, but what do you feel like was probably like a standout memory for you as a kid with horses? A memory that you'll never forget. I know I'm sure you've had a lot of, you know, moments, but is there something that kind of stands out?
Speaker 3 (05:09):
One thing, just like a memory that I really cherish now was probably as a young kid showing at those big 4-H horse fairs, we all like camped onsite with our horses and just had so much fun. I mean a lot of my best friends came from people that I rode with and shared barn space with. And so it's just like being able to ride together after school every day. And then those week long fairs where you were all together and you were camping and you were riding all the time. I look back on that very fondly.
Katy Starr (05:46):
Those are some good times. I didn't do horse 4-H but I showed sheep and cattle and going to 4-H, you know, fair week and everything when we would camp and stuff. It definitely, especially if you come into it, I don't know if you ever like go back to like places like that as like an adult and it kind of has this smell that just totally takes you back to those memories, those experiences that you had. Like I don't know, it kind of just like washes over you and it, it is just so special.
Kirstie Jones (06:14):
Yes, no I completely agree.
Katy Starr (06:16):
Okay, so multiple disciplines, right? Like it's so fun to hear how many different types of disciplines that you've done and kind of been experienced with, especially because you've done Western and English, which not everybody really does. So you've competed in, was it reining at the collegiate level? Was that correct?
Kirstie Jones (06:36):
Yeah, so I went to Texas Christian University to ride horsemanship horses cause I came from more of that all around showing paints. But when I was there I switched to the reining team and learned a lot of the reining.
Katy Starr (06:50):
Oh okay. So you didn't have reining before you went there, but that's kind of how you transitioned...
Kirstie Jones (06:55):
A little, alittle bit. My horse trainer had some reiners that I had some experience and I showed them a couple of times. So I came with a little bit of experience but as soon as I was able to move down to Texas I was working with some of the trainers like Casey Deary that were local to TCU who really helped me learn and understand the sport in addition to my coaches at the school.
Katy Starr (07:15):
That's really awesome. So I have, okay, trying to think of the questions that I have for you because this is just so intriguing to me. But can you tell us a little bit specifically about some of the things that you really liked about English disciplines and then like Western disciplines. Obviously there are differences there, but because of that experience that you have, it would be really interesting to kind of hear your take on both and what you enjoyed most about both sides.
Kirstie Jones (07:42):
I really loved jumping. I felt like I was physically at my strongest the more that I was jumping. We did so much work with no stirrups. There was a lot of work about foundationally being very balanced and I felt the most fit as a rider I think when I was jumping the most. And I really miss that cause I've been riding Western a lot lately. Like my current horse is reining bred and he does the roping with my husband and I kind of do some ranch riding and stuff like that on him. But I ride him bareback in a bareback pad all the time and just long trot and post bareback as much as I can just for the workout. It's, I, I miss that part of it. I really loved jumping and miss that and often dream about I need to go take some lessons and get back into it.
Kirstie Jones (08:31):
I'm definitely more at home in western disciplines though. I love reining horses. I love a horse that is very, very well broke to your seat, your weight and your legs. Something you don't need to hold onto. You don't need really bridle rains when you're on the aged horses that are very good at what they do. You know, you can give them all their face, you can completely have control of them throughout the midsection of their body and that's what I'm most familiar with and most at home with. That's my favorite type of riding is probably western more on the reining side just because I love how broke those horses are and what a fun feeling that is to be able to communicate with your horse on such minimal aids. So there's, there's, I don't know, there's a lot I enjoy about all of it. I mean to this day, especially through my business, I stay connected to so many different disciplines and breeds of horses and I have such a love and passion, whether it's the Warmblood, the Arabian, the Quarter Horse. I have such a love and appreciation for the diversity of the breeds and disciplines that these horses, you know the full spectrum of the horse industry.
Katy Starr (09:47):
That's so amazing. That's probably something that's pretty special about your job is just how much exposure I guess you have to such a variety of horses and people and across all disciplines and everything. I bet that's pretty interesting.
Kirstie Jones (10:00):
It's one of my favorite parts because I grew up doing so many different things and because I love to be such a learner, I'm going in every single barn looking at how they handle manure and hay and, cause everybody has such a different way of doing things, especially across these different breeds and disciplines. And so I love going through and being like, ok, how do they organize their tack rooms and what do they do with their groom carts and you know, how are they feeding these horses and what are they feeding these horses? And I am such a learner of wanting to love these horses better that I, it's such a special experience to get to work with a very wide variety of horsemen and horsewomen and the horses themselves.
Katy Starr (10:44):
I love that. I think that's something that's really an incredible part about the horse industry that sometimes people in the horse industry forget is there's no right way to do something, in anything that you're doing, right? Because no matter where you're located or what type of horse you have, everybody's experience is different, every horse is different and everybody's background is different. Right. And so I just think how beautiful it is. That's one of the my favorite things. I was very, very involved in college in cattle and agriculture in general, but one of my absolute favorite things is when we would go on tours to see different farms, production farms or ranches or even different companies that are just involved in agriculture and just seeing how unique and beautifully different they all are. It introduces you to so many incredible things that you maybe didn't know before or maybe you weren't aware of that might even give you ideas for your own place, which I think is really awesome.
Kirstie Jones (11:47):
Yeah, no, definitely. I mean you can learn from everybody so it's fun.
Katy Starr (11:53):
Absolutely. That's so cool. Well I love that. What do you feel like has been your most memorable competition and why?
Kirstie Jones (12:02):
Okay, for me personally, my parents one year when I was in high school let me go to Oklahoma and show at the big world show. And so that was definitely so much fun because there was so much buildup to it and anticipation, and Tahoe and I competed there and we did really well. We were reserve in the all-around, we won a world championship and two reserve world championships and so we got to bring home a ton of stuff. But that was just really, really special for me because it was one thing that I worked very hard towards and then got to go and compete and met some really incredible people in the process. So that was, that stands out definitely for me as one of the most cherished memories from showing as a kid.
Katy Starr (12:46):
Did you always think or know that you would have a career in the equine industry?
Kirstie Jones (12:51):
I never expected to have a career in the equine industry. I always knew I wanted to be involved with horses. I need horses in my life always. But I never sought out a career in this industry or really saw myself professionally in the industry. I went to TCU to ride on their equestrian team, but I was studying finance in their business school and I really fell in love with the asset management industry after I did a lot of internships in private equity and traditional asset management, hedge funds, that type of thing. So I started my career in asset management. I was in an investor relations department, which I loved being able to combine marketing and finance together and just felt like that was a great fit for my skillset with no intention of being a full-time photographer. But it was kind of that senior year of college that I bought myself a camera just cause I liked nice pictures and I wanted nice pictures and I started by practicing on the horses that were in my parents' front pasture.
Kirstie Jones (13:55):
And then when I went back to school for that final semester, I was practicing on my teammates and their horses and then that just really grew into a hobby. You know, when I had graduated college it was kind of that horseless era for me because I had sold my show horses to go to school and I was so incredibly fortunate to be able to ride the college’s horses throughout my time at TCU. But then that post-graduation, I had no more access to horses. And so the way that that camera brought me access to different barns, meeting different people, meeting new horses, the only time I got to pet muzzles and ride horses was on those photo shoots. And so it really became a special hobby for me that turned into a side business that eventually just got so big I had to choose between which job I wanted to do. And the momentum behind my photography business was so strong that in 2017 I decided to leave finance and pursue photography full-time. But even in 2017, I am not sure I saw myself in the industry and like really thought this was something that was gonna happen, just cause growing up I, I had really seen myself more in corporate America and more in finance and you know, I was working in downtown Dallas and wearing a suit every day. My life could not be more different now.
Katy Starr (15:10):
Kirstie Jones (15:11):
Katy Starr (15:12):
But how great it is, I mean, to look back and just to see where you're at now. Yeah, that's pretty, that's pretty awesome.
Kirstie Jones (15:19):
It has been an unexpected blessing for sure, but I have the greatest career in the whole entire world, so I'm so incredibly grateful for what I get to do now.
Katy Starr (15:28):
. That's awesome. What do you feel like was that pivotal moment that got you into photographing horses?
Kirstie Jones (15:40):
I was in an upper level marketing class cause it was one of my last semesters at TCU. And you know, we're, we're going through all these case studies and learning about marketing and for some reason in that classroom I just couldn't stop daydreaming. I was engaged in planning my own wedding at that time and I couldn't stop thinking about Tahoe, the heart horse that I no longer had. And in my head I was just really connecting that emotional romantic storytelling imagery that wedding photographers get to do with this soft pastel aesthetic and a lot of drama and romanticism and, and storytelling with, you know, my experience with Tahoe, I had a bunch of show proofs from all the competitions that we went together, and I was extremely fortunate for those pictures, but I didn't have an image that actually told the story of our relationship and how I felt about that horse.
Kirstie Jones (16:39):
And so I just remember sitting honestly in those classes and that's when I started kind of dreaming up a business plan and, andI didn't feel like that existed. I didn't feel like that was being offered in the market currently, just more of a portrait session with a horse and less of the formal posing or competition photos or things like that. I wasn't aware of it existing. And so that's when I kind of just got the idea of I want to produce an image that I wish I had for myself. I really wish I had this type of image with Tahoe. And so that's when I went and was practicing on my teammates and anybody I could get ahold of, you know, I had a lot of contacts in the equine industry, which I'm grateful for, but that's kind of who I got to practice on at the beginning while I really built out the visual identity that I wanted and, and the aesthetic that I wanted and what I wanted to be known for as a photographer. And then what eventually launched my business a couple years later in 2013.
Katy Starr (17:42):
That's really, really incredible. I love that story because I think that's so often when something like that forms is like coming from something that's missing. So I love that you built that out and, and just to see kind of where you're at today andhow many stories you're telling. It's just really amazing and you capture such beautiful moments with I think a lot of girls and their riders, although I know you've done others, but just that relationship that they have together, it's so beautiful.
Kirstie Jones (18:16):
Well thank you. It's a lot of fun. I'm very passionate about what I do.
Katy Starr (18:20):
What do you feel like has been the most challenging experience that you've had since you started photographing horses?
Kirstie Jones (18:27):
Running a business, taking pictures is probably like 5% of how I spend my time. And so what I project and what people see isn't actually like the behind the scenes of what's going on. And I love that as having a foundation in business and in education and business and especially my time in private equity helped me learn a little bit of how to lift a business off the ground, how to scale a business a little bit. And so thankfully for me, I really, really love the business aspect of it. I do my bookkeeping every single day and I'm in Excel every single day because those are parts that I really like. But I just think there are so many facets of being a solopreneur when you're the only person, you wear all the hats. So like I am the chief of marketing and I am also, you know, the head bookkeeper and I'm also, you know, the chief financial officer and the CEO and the photographer and the..
Katy Starr (19:29):
The list goes on.
Kirstie Jones (19:30):
A lawyer, but yeah, you know what, I'm sending out contracts and I'm sending out invoices and I am customer service and I am, you know, so that is certainly just, just something that I think surprises a lot of people when they want to be a photographer they want to take pictures and it's like, okay, but the picture taking is actually a very small amount of this.
Katy Starr (19:50):
You better be ready for a whole lot more .
Kirstie Jones (19:53):
Yes, yes. So I, it's just especially, you know, being married, becoming a mother, then the work-life balance of it I think is where I was getting to with having to wear all of the hats, be all of the things, be the sole employee of the whole business and then, you know, personally having enough time to ride the horses that we now own and you know, spend the time with family and whatnot. That certainly became the biggest challenge of, I have this career that I love and want to devote my life to and I'm spending so much time on, how do we either marry it with my personal life or balance it with my personal life to do all the things and be all the things to everyone. So that becomes the most challenging.
Katy Starr (20:38):
That's a lot to juggle. So what would you say, and I'm sure you probably have a handful of answers that could qualify for this question, but what would you say is your favorite part about being an equine photographer?
Kirstie Jones (20:49):
Oh man, it's all of it. I really am blessed by this career. I think what I have been surprised by and what I really, really cherish is the friendships. Like people that I meet, either colleagues in the industry or people who start as clients become really great friends of mine. And I am so like just blessed by those relationships. I mean we're all crazy horse girls so instantly have that bond in common. But I have been so blessed by the friendships that has started as professional relationships throughout my time as photographer. So
Katy Starr (21:28):
That's, that's really awesome.
Kirstie Jones (21:29):
I think that's my favorite. I think that's my favorite part.
Katy Starr (21:30):
Yes. Can you tell us about, and again, and this might be a hard question, but can you tell us about your most memorable equine session that you've done, that you've photographed and what has made it so special? Just one of your favorites that pop up in your memories.
Kirstie Jones (21:48):
The first shoot that I did with the Compton Cowboys is by far my favorite session that I've ever done. I've never had more fun than that first session. I've been blessed to work with them several times. They are the most incredible group of equestrians from the city of Compton, but I've been able to visit their barn in Compton. It is crazy. You're like driving down the streets and all you see are houses and you just turn in this driveway and behind the row of houses, it's in the center of houses. They just have like, you know, all these stalls set up and a big riding arena and a round pen and it's just like, how is this here? It's the coolest thing. But the first shoot that we did together, we all met up at a park and they brought so many horses, they brought so many riders. It was a big launch for the merchandise that they were about to do. But they were so much fun. I have never laughed so hard. Smiled as big, had such a great time as getting to meet the cowboys and cowgirl of the Compton Cowboys. I wish I could relive that day every day. It was so much fun .
Katy Starr (22:56):
I love that. And I know who you're talking about because I've been following them on socials and I really love just watching what they're doing and just bringing horses to the city. Like I love that.
Kirstie Jones (23:10):
So much fun. I've been able to photograph some of the youth that came out of their junior equestrian program. I've been able to photograph, you know, multiple of their riders and it is incredible to see the impact that they have had outside of the industry. That's what's most impactful, is they are crossing outside of the industry into mainstream. And so that is what is so inspiring to me. I love them. I love how business minded they are, how they want to introduce people into horses and how they're able to do that. It's the coolest thing.
Katy Starr (23:45):
That's really incredible. I love that. And what horse has been your absolute favorite to photograph? I know you've had the opportunity to photograph some very special horses.
Kirstie Jones (23:57):
Ah, okay. All of them! The answer is all of them. I've never met a horse I didn't love. I am stealing kisses and pets every time I can. Okay, let's see, who has been incredibly special? I've photographed so many horse of the years and they're incredible. I got to photograph Hailey Kinsel’s Sister. She is incredible. Up there at the top of the list, my own palomino Mojo. He's the greatest horse I've ever met in my life. I adore every opportunity I get to photograph that horse or just be in his presence. He, he truly is such a special, special individual. I'm obsessed with him. But there's another palomino, notice all of them are palominos, Sister is palomino
Katy Starr (24:40):
They're so beautiful though. Palominos, they're so gorgeous. I love them.
Kirstie Jones (24:45):
I got to photograph Hollywood and Tomas, and Hollywood has a mane that literally drags on the ground and he is such a showman. The camera goes on him and he's stallion and he just wants to, he just projects so much beauty, grace, elegance and, and so it was a blast being able to photograph Tomas and Hollywood and the relationship that those two have. They travel the literal world performing for people. But I think that's at the top of my list because he let me ride him after the shoot. He's like, you want to get on? And I'm like, of course.
Katy Starr (25:20):
Kirstie Jones (25:22):
And so, I mean I, I can go on and on and on. I have a big list of horses that I am obsessed with.
Katy Starr (25:32):
Those are some really cool horses though.
Kirstie Jones (25:35):
I don’t know if you have time for all of them.
Katy Starr (25:37):
, you'd be like, we could be on here all day naming off all the horses . But that's a good thing.
Katy Starr (25:47):
. That's so amazing though. I really love that. Okay. Who have you not had a chance to photograph with their horse yet, but that you would really, really love to work with one day? We're going to manifest this right now for you
Kirstie Jones (26:04):
I love it. I love it. I love it. So I, in as many opportunities as I can, I too want to cross in the mainstream as much as I can just to get more kids exposed to more horses. So for me, I'm going to say any horse crazy person who's out in mainstream, I would love Kendall with her personal horses. You know, Kendall Jenner or Bella Gigi Hadid with their personal horses. Kate Upton owns horses. Any of those people who have been vocal about loving horses but have a very public image, I think are at the top of my list. And, and I don't want it to be a fashion shoot with a random horse. I mean the whole heart behind my brand is showing the relationship. And so for me, if it were to be any of those, you know Miranda Lambert, any public figure who owns horses, I would really want it to be with their personal horse to show the relationship that they have with them and to hopefully be able to inspire a little kid to start riding lessons.
Katy Starr (27:11):
Knowing that that doesn't have to be their main thing in life of what they do. Yeah, I think that's so beautiful and I really love that. That's really cool. What has been your proudest moment in life so far?
Kirstie Jones (27:25):
That's a hard question.
Kirstie Jones (27:28):
I'll say the most fun I'm having is riding with my daughter currently. So she's five, she's horse crazy. We bought her a little mini pony but she loves to ride the big horses and the horse mug hit her real hard at the moment and, and that could change. She could grow out of that and that's fine. But I'm really, really loving. Every minute I get riding together she keeps wanting to trot together and lope together and ride together. And so I'm just trying to soak in every memory I can of riding with my daughter cause it's such a fun age she's at and a sweet stage in life. And so I'd say those are some of my proudest moments right now are just being able to share my great love and passion with her at this moment.
Katy Starr (28:20):
Yes. And to see her enjoying it. Like loving that. I bet that just hits you in the mom feels like nothing else.
Kirstie Jones (28:29):
It sure does.
Katy Starr (28:32):
Oh I totally get it. I love that for you. Oh she is such a sweet little girl too. I love when you post pictures that you take of her with your horses and everything, she can just totally see that her face is just lit up. Like it's the best thing in the world.
Kirstie Jones (28:48):
Yeah. We're having a lot of fun right now. A lot of fun. It's a sweet, sweet season in life.
Katy Starr (28:54):
Oh I love that for you. What is your favorite equine-based movie?
Kirstie Jones (29:00):
Okay, growing up it was Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken and I have not seen that movie since I was a kid. I really want to rewatch it as a family.
Katy Starr (29:07):
Watch it as an adult.
Kirstie Jones (29:09):
Yeah. It's going to be a tie because recently we just watched the animated Spirit movie um, with my daughter and that one is an instant classic. That's a great movie. And she watches the like remake on Netflix called Spirit that is like a little girl with the wild horse. It's totally not the same thing at all. So I had to introduce her to the real Spirit cause I'm like look, her favorite thing is the Netflix show. That's her favorite like character and so she has the shirts and the toys and the everything right. So, but I had to introduce her to the original Spirit and that's a great movie too. But I need to rewatch Wild Hearts Can't be Broken cause that was definitely my favorite when I was growing up.
Katy Starr (29:51):
Okay. What is a bucket list item that you have yet to do in your life that you would like to do someday? And it doesn't have to be photography related. It can be, but it doesn't have to be.
Kirstie Jones (30:03):
Yeah, I've never ridden a horse on a beach. I should have done it in Oregon. My pony would've been absolutely perfect. I had friends that went every year. I want to just like open one up and go galloping on sand somewhere. So I think that's my bucket list item is go ride and then go swim 'em too. I'd like to go swim. I think that's something I’d like.
Katy Starr (30:22):
You have to go right off into the sunset on the beach.
Kirstie Jones (30:26):
Katy Starr (30:29):
Then you'll have to have somebody taking pictures of you cause that would be super amazing
Kirstie Jones (30:33):
I know, I know
Katy Starr (30:38):
Who in your life has been your greatest inspiration? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
Kirstie Jones (30:45):
It would be my mom, especially becoming a mother. You really start to understand all the sacrifices that were made. But I mean she was at every horse show. She drove me to every riding lesson. You know, it was her love of horses that got me into horses. She is such the catalyst for my love of horses and such an inspiration throughout my life. I would definitely say my mom and both my parents. I mean my dad was a businessman and I’m so much like him in so many ways and he inspires me especially on everything business side in so many ways. But okay, both my parents cause my mom is very artistic and you know, sacrificed so, so much for me to be able to have horses as a kid. And then I would definitely say my dad, especially more now is who I draw on and ask for help and bounce ideas off of from a business perspective and everything like that. So I got to go two people I guess.
Katy Starr (31:48):
Yeah, no, that's good. I think that's a really good answer. Just because they’re two huge parts of your life really still. So what is the most important thing that horses have taught you in your life so far?
Kirstie Jones (32:03):
Okay, that answer is impossible. I don't think I would be the same person at all without having this lifelong influence of horses. You know, as a kid they teach you how to win, they teach you how to lose, they teach you hard work. You know, I cleaned a lot of stalls to pay off lessons. I did a lot of jobs to be able to afford going to horse shows and stuff like that. I would say my current horse Mojo, I introduced him a little bit. I feel like he's teaching me kindness. He is one of the purest hearted, kindest individuals I've ever been around. It's like a golden retriever as a horse
Katy Starr (32:44):
Oh that's so sweet.
Kirstie Jones (32:46):
So forgiving, so happy, so innocent soul. And so I feel like he is teaching me a lot of kindness, maybe grace, forgiveness type things. As a kid It really comes down to, I just feel like so much perseverance, so much hard work, so much learning through failure and learning that resilience, learning how to lose learning that it can take a long time to understand the concept but to just keep going, keep practicing and whatnot. I mean there's just endless lessons that I think come from the world of horses and that again is such a big passion of mine introducing more kids to more horses. Cause I think that is, I just look back at how much I learned and how much I gained from having horses in my life. And I really want more young people to have that opportunity as well.
Katy Starr (33:35):
There are so many good life lessons that come from horses. I think people joke about joke, like seriously though, about how expensive, like it's such an expensive hobby.
Katy Starr (33:47):
But you know, if you think about just all of the things that it teaches you and just how like horses just can feel you. There’s like this healing aspect I feel like from a mental aspect that really, horses are incredible creatures. And then when you talked about failure, I think people are so scared of failure but I feel like it's such an important thing for people to go through and know that you're going to fail and things that you do. If you're not failing then you might not be doing enough things or you know, trying hard enough. It can be seen as such a scary thing. But I think it really is what can elevate you to go to like the next level of whatever you know, you deem to be, what you're working towards or success or anything like that. So yeah, I think that's really awesome.
In prepping for this interview, you mentioned, and you've kind of talked about it a little bit today already, but you mentioned that the equine industry can be a little tough to enter into from the outside, you know if you're not like in a a rural area or you know, wherever. So what limitations do you see and why is it important to make this lifestyle or opportunities within this industry more accessible? Like what does the equine industry have to offer from your perspective?
I look back at my childhood with horses and I look back at how healing they are, like you mentioned. How many life lessons you learn that I really want more kids on the backs of more horses. And it is a multifaceted, I'm not going to say problem, but it's a complex solution because horses, you have the financial aspect and especially running a training program that offers lessons to beginners, it's very hard to sustain financially. It's hard to have the right horses who can be the best introduction to a beginner. It is hard to price that accordingly to make it a palatable option. You know, should I take my kid to ballet? Should I take my kid to soccer or should I take my kid to horseback riding? You know, there, there's real considerations to that entry level of how to make this accessible. Meaning it's not too far of a drive and for city kids that's a huge obstacle.
Kirstie Jones (36:15):
It is hard to get horses in urban areas, all the way to the financial of, you know, if it's $30 for a season of soccer versus, I'm not going to explain how much it is per lesson to ride. You know, there are a lot of obstacles. It's complex. I love every opportunity I can, trying to highlight trainers who are offering those beginner type lessons, programs that outreach, getting to work with Brianna Noble in the Oakland area and everything she does for outreach and kids, you know already we'd explained what the Compton Cowboys are doing in the LA area is incredible. There are a lot of programs like that that I love to try to bring awareness and attention and support and help to. But from every level, I think things like the Yellowstone effect we're seeing that people are talking about is huge.
Kirstie Jones (37:12):
That mainstream crossover of trying to reach an unreached group because by and large you kind of are bred into this industry, agriculture, equine, whatever it might be, farming, ranching. There's so little access and exposure to get the outside world into us that I think it's so incredibly powerful when we are able to see mainstream crossovers that cowboy is cool right now that, you know, even western fashion is cool right now. Being able to capitalize on that to peak interest. So to just be the catalyst of inspiration for a simple Google search of where can I ride near me, where can I go on a trail ride near me? You know, where can I go to a horseback riding lesson near me is what I want to be able to do in whatever capacity I have available to me, you know, be it through social media, be it through partnering with these great organizations, be it through any means necessary.
Kirstie Jones (38:10):
I just want to be able to get more people access to more horses. And I don't care if that's on vacation, they're taking a trail ride or they're going to start horseback riding lessons or whatever that might be. I just am trying to be as proactive as I can to open up this world to as many people as I can. Cause I mean, I can't speak highly enough about the equine community, about horses themselves, about ag, about the western way of life. All of it I'm really passionate about. And so there's a lot. But anytime that I can highlight an instructor, like I said, that can offer a beginner lesson or, you know, a program that's reaching inner city kids or whatever it might be, I'm trying to do that.
Katy Starr (38:50):
You do such a good job of it. I see it. I see it in what you put out and it's a great mission. I love that you're doing that cause anybody who has a chance to, you know, build a relationship with a horse, be introduced to that lifestyle and honestly to not forget what like our roots, like where we all kind of started and came from. That's something that it's great if people can have that exposure and be introduced to it. So, okay. Just a couple more questions left, but what advice would you give to anyone who is listening who has big dreams of maybe being an equine photographer or even just making an unexpected career within the equine industry? Kind of like what presented itself to you.
Kirstie Jones (39:39):
Yeah, I think my advice to the photographer, the budding photographer or the aspiring photographer is certainly get as much business education as you can. Be it, I mean, specifically marketing is what I usually encourage, but you're truly a businessperson. If this is going to be a career for you and not a hobby, then you are going to need a foundation in business to make it sustainable. If it's going to be a hobby, that's great and totally fine and then you can, you know, pour love into the artistic side of it. But if you want this to be a career, then I think learning the business of it and the marketing of it specifically is going to serve you very well to create a business to be able to sustain your career. For the equine professional in general, I would say your last client gets you your next one.
Kirstie Jones (40:41):
How tight-knit this community is, I mean, everybody tends to know everybody. That's who's going to get you your introductions. For any business, word of mouth and referrals are powerful, but inside the horse industry specifically, I think it's 10 times that, for some reason the community that horses are, it just, it's very pronounced that word of mouth and referrals are critical. And so I would do everything you can to love people to the best of your ability, to serve them to the best of your ability, to create positive connections with people and impacts on people's lives. And I think no matter what your career is in this industry, if your focus is on how you can love people, how you can serve people, then I think that you will do very well. But it's, I'm not going to say small world, but man, it has those small world connections of people. And so I always just encourage you to be very focused on providing a high level of customer service.
Katy Starr (41:43):
Since this is a Standlee podcast, what is your favorite Standlee product?
Kirstie Jones (41:49):
Mojo eats the Alfalfa/Timothy pellet, and I love that product for him. But I would say my favorite is probably the Apple Berry Cookie Cube because I can feed it so guiltlessly, I love to treat my horses and when I treat them sometimes with something that's extremely sugary, then you do feel that guilt of like, okay, this is too many treats.
Katy Starr (42:13):
Maybe I shouldn’t be?
Kirstie Jones (42:14):
But what I love about that product is that it's the Alfalfa/Timothy base with his forage, which is what he eats anyway, and he loves it. And so it's that guiltless like, I can treat him, I can treat him, I can treat him. He loves it. And he's a picky eater. He won't eat a carrot, he won't eat an apple. You know, he won't eat a lot of traditional treats like that. And so it's fun to have a treat he loves, but also one that I can give him a lot.
Katy Starr (42:41):
. Yeah, you feel fine. You're like, it's fine.
Kirstie Jones (42:44):
I can spoil him without the guilt.
Katy Starr (42:46):
. I love that. Those are great products, so awesome. And then Kirstie, how can our listeners stay connected with you after this episode?
Kirstie Jones (42:57):
Yes, so my website's kirstiemarie.com if you want to check that out. It links to all my social medias on Instagram. I'm K I R S T I E E E (there's three E's Marie). On Facebook it's Kirstie Marie Photography. Pretty much any other social media is Kirstie Marie Photography. But yeah, I would love to stay connected.
Katy Starr (43:17):
Excellent. AndI'll put those in the show notes so people don’t have a hard time finding them. Just go to the show notes.
Kirstie Jones (43:25):
I know it's not common spelling. It's hard.
Katy Starr (43:27):
. Yes, it's Kirstie, not Kristie . Yes. Awesome. Well, Kirstie, thank you so much for being on today. And to our listeners, thank you for joining us for today's episode. We were so glad to introduce you to Kirstie and what she does in the horse world. And if you have any podcast topic ideas or feedback, we would love to hear from you. So go ahead and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And until next time, Kirstie thanks again for being on today. We really appreciated having you here!
Kirstie Jones (44:05):
Thank you, Katy.
Katy Starr (44:07):
Thanks for listening to The Beyond the Barn podcast by Standlee Forage. We'd love for you to share our podcast with your favorite people and subscribe on Apple, Spotify, or your favorite listening platform. Until next time, keep your cinch tight and don't forget to turn off the water.