North Dakota Badlands Horse By Victoria Shoopman Photography

The wild horses of Theodore Roosevelt National Park are a true symbol of our history and our freedom. The wild horses bring a peace and tranquility to the park, all while showing off their majestic power and grace.

""A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves, strong, powerful, beautiful and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence." ~ Pam Brown

I caught myself using the word mundane a lot this week. Mundane: lacking interest or excitement; dull. After spending days in the park, crawling in the grasses to get the right angle, sitting in at a location for hours, hiking miles upon miles to get to a herd I could just barely see with my binoculars, coming back to reality sucked. I missed the open space, the fresh air, the peaceful nature of the park. I didn't miss tourists, being a local, I was a little annoyed with the disrespect for the area and the animals I saw, but that is another topic that will never go away!

I missed the horses. For the first time since I stopped training, I felt that feeling in my soul, that I only got when connecting with a horse.

Gretchen, 2014 mare out of Bella by Sidekick-Currently in Sidekick's Band

After the last trip to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, coming back to reality just was dull. I caught myself wishing I was back in the park, sitting with a herd of horses for hours on end. Coming back to family sessions and engagement pictures is fun, but it isn't what feeds my soul.

I will find a herd and sit with them for hours, until they finally graze their way away from me. I was a horse trainer for 10 years prior to fueling my passion for photography, which is a huge reason why I love photographing the horses in the park. After I broke my back in 2013, I had to take a break from riding all together, and decided that working for client's with their horses, wasn't worth the risk of injury anymore, and decided to just train my own horses.

I enjoy reading the horses, reading their personalities, finding horses I love, horses I dislike, horses who are just there or horses that are curious and willing. I wish all humans in the region could see this side of the horses, to see how smart they are, how eager they would be as saddle horses, to see that they aren't a waste.

I have trained hundreds of horses. I have seen the best and the worse horses. I have seen horses so abused it breaks your heart. I have seen horses pampered to the point where I wish I HAD as easy of a life as they did. And with that, I can see potential in these horses. I see horses that look at you with kind eyes, horses that have curiosity and willingness to learn, if approached correctly.

These horses are a mirror to our souls even more so than a domestic horse. If you approach them with an ugly heart, they will flee. They will leave you, because unlike people, horses see right through us. I had a wounded soul, and that is okay. Every day it is healing more and more, and because of this, I was able to see the world through a victims eyes, through vulnerable eyes, through horses eyes... I was able to read what he was thinking, feel the fear or comfort he was feeling. To create ultimate harmony with the horse.

Gretchen, 2014 mare out of Bella by Sidekick-Currently in Sidekick's Band

They can read our body language that you don't even know you are expressing. These horses might not have perfect conformation, or ideal bloodlines, but you know what they do have? They have a mind. They have instincts and "street smarts" that many horses do not possess.

"The horse is a mirror to your soul... and sometimes you might not like what you see in the mirror." -Buck Brannaman

After training hundreds of horses, and instructing numerous clinics and lesson students, I can tell you right now, the best horses are the horses that are allowed to be horses at a young age.

Dawn's Early Light, 2013 mare out of Cassie by Tomahawk - Currently in Brutus' Band Aurora is nursing, sired by Brutus.

I am fond of this image because of the delicate feel and intimacy it creates. Aurora is nursing, and the overall feel of the image is soft and relaxing.

Life is a delicate thing. We often forget that while we go about our day to day lives. We forget how sacred and special life is, and how important it is to value life. We numb ourselves to the harsh reality that is life. All great things come to an end, but in that tragedy and despair grows hope and new life. The circle of life has always been the same, and no matter what we try to do as humans, it will always be the circle.

Enjoy your lives, find what makes your soul happy and prosper in it! Fuel your passion, and build your life and career around your passion.

I love photographing the horses in the park. To me it is a challenge. Because to me, I'm not just shooting random horses eating or sleeping. I am composing a shot that will be hung in a gallery and revered, even if it is only by myself.

Photographing the horses feeds my soul. It makes my soul happy. It allows me to recover from the photo sessions with my clients, spend some time outside and with my man. I love applying my artistic feel and creativity to my images, working to get the right angles and the right compositions.

Oregon, 2016 Colt out of Rosie by Gary - Currently in Half Moon's Band.
I have taken the time to create this page, to display my art from Theodore Roosevelt National Park, and tell my thoughts and feelings of the park. Horses are good for the soul, it has been proven time and time again.
Created By
Victoria Shoopman


Victoria Shoopman Photography © Victoria Shoopman 2017

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