The Trainers That Built Me
A Passion Project

the trainers that built me

Catherine Michele Photography is a Virginia equine photographer. She is launching a passion project, “The Trainers that Built Me”, to shine the spotlight on our riding instructors who go above and beyond the call of duty.


The Trainers that Built Me



Winners Announced!


and the winners are…

Ashley Ford Gayhart

Jade LaDow

Kasey Evans

Mederise Carter

Rodney Sawyer



I am so excited to showcase these wonderful trainers who have made such an enormous impact on their students and equestrian community!



We’ve all had them. The trainers that tirelessly put their time, effort, and most importantly, their heart into their students. They are not only the ones at the gate supporting you during a show, they are the ones who have spent countless hours with you until you nailed that lead change, finally understood how your horse should carry himself, screamed at the top of their lungs until you got down the line without chipping, and helped you grow into the rider you are today. They deserve to be celebrated!

the trainers that built me

I am so excited to share this passion project that has been on my mind for a while! I would love to showcase riding instructors who have been nominated by their students who go above and beyond and have become a major part of their students’ lives (in and out of the barn).

Our trainers do a lot more than just teach us how to ride, they teach us life lessons, they push us to be our best, they watch us grow, and they become our family.

Applications are open for students to nominate their trainer to be selected as part of this project. I will be choosing a minimum of three trainers to receive a complimentary horse and rider session that includes a print credit.

Our trainers usually don’t take the time to celebrate how much positive impact they have on their students, so let’s put them in the spotlight.


Accepting applications from February 7th to February 21st.

Winners will be announced on February 28th!


Click here to nominate your trainer in The Trainers that Built Me project

Selected Trainer’s will Receive:

30 minute session
prep & style guide
planning/wardrobe consultation
travel within 25 miles
horse friendly assistant
image reveal/wall design consultation
$200 credit to spend at image reveal
mobile app of images purchased
feature on the blog


I’ve had so many amazing instructors over the many years that I’ve been an equestrian, but I feel compelled to share about my very first one, Sue Niedenthal. Anyone who has ridden in Virginia Beach for decades knows the name. Sue was excellent at teaching her students much more than just how to ride.

If you rode with Sue, you learned horsemanship, braiding, grooming, tack cleaning, wrapping, mucking, bathing, patience, persistence, and the dedication it takes to be a real equestrian. We didn’t just get on and jump around.

Sue taught the fundamentals you needed to be a successful rider. Sitting trot, posting with no stirrups, jumping with no hands, and understanding how our position could make or break the ride.

the trainers that built me

We had to braid for EVERY show (even schooling shows) and leaving the smallest sweat mark on your horse was not acceptable. Your tack better be as clean as your horse and you better know how to take apart and reassemble a bridle.

I would not be the equestrian I am today without the skills I learned at Stable Time Farm. It would be an honor to gift Sue a portrait session with her favorite horses if she was still with us today. 1947-2014.


Tell me about your trainer and nominate them here!



You may also like these more personal posts:

Life Without Horses…I Don’t Think So!

New Name! – Catherine Michele Photography



View Equestrian Portrait Sessions on the blog

Follow my Instagram Account

Join the Email List to get Travel Dates & Info


Looking for a photographer specializing in horses and dogs?

Contact me to schedule your session

Find FAQs about equestrian sessions

View more info about Equestrian Sessions

share this post

Filed In:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.