In May, I took a trip to Utah. Part of that trip included visiting the wild mustangs that live in the Onaqui Herd Management Area, somewhat near Tooele. My tour guide was Lara Joy Brynildssen. Sadly, she passed away unexpectedly last week. Let me tell you about her.
Lara Joy Brynildssen
I met Lara Joy in December, 2017 on Chincoteague Island, Virginia. We were there as part of a photographers meetup, organized by the Equine Photographers Network. I instantly liked her. She was warm, funny, and happy to talk about her travels far and wide to photograph wild horses. By the time that weekend was over, we were friends on Facebook.
We shared a love of kitties (we both have an orange tabby; she had a total of 3 cats, while I have just the one), horses, and photography. Over the next year, we solidified our friendship through photos and funny posts on both Facebook and Instagram.
When she sent out an invite to join her in Utah to photograph the mustangs, I jumped at the chance. We were joined by another woman she had invited and had one great day out on the range. We met some of her favorite individuals: Clorox, the band stallion; Lucas (the same name as her black and white kitty); the blue-eyed filly; and Old Man, a legend in Onaqui. Near the end of our day, we came upon a dark grey mare with a dark grey baby that turned out to be VERY young. We unknowingly ventured too close and found ourselves running to get out of mom’s way and give them more space. But we got to name the baby, a filly: Pax.
The second day was filled with changeable weather from cloudy to rain to hail and eventually snow. We came close to getting stuck in the mud a few times. Unfortunately that cut our outing rather short. But it gave us an opportunity to edit and learn some post processing techniques.
Throughout our few days together, Lara Joy was incredibly generous with her knowledge of the horses and suggestions for post processing. The three of us bonded over our shared experiences and I am so grateful to have spent that time out on the range with her. I was looking forward to the possibility of returning with her one day.
Donating to American Wild Horse Campaign and Salt River Wild Horse Management Group
Lara Joy was passionate about the Onaqui mustangs in particular, as she made time to visit with them two or three times a year for the last few years. To honor her, for every mustang image/product I sell through the end of October, I will make a donation in Lara Joy’s memory to the American Wild Horse Campaign (AWHC) and the Salt River Wild Horse Management Group (SRWHMG). Both organizations work on behalf of America’s wild horses; AWHC is nationwide while SRWHMG works on behalf of the wild horses along the Salt River in Arizona. Their organization has been successfully using PZP to reduce the number of pregnancies and they have a good working relationship with local government organizations. They demonstrate that wild horse management need not depend on regular round-ups.
2020 Calendar: Wild Horses of Onaqui, Utah, available on Lulu.com, $17.99
Fine Art America: Wild Horse Collection
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Weavers Way Mercantile
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My images of the mustangs in Utah would not have been possible without Lara Joy. I will be eternally grateful for our friendship. Love and light to all who knew her. Thank you, LJ; I miss you!