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From Clicker Training To Unicorn Dreams: How My Horses Became Seattle’s Sparkly Stars

Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography
Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography

Let me tell you, life as an equine photographer isn’t all glamorous gallops and sunset mane silhouettes, but I get plenty of those too. And honestly, it wouldn’t be half as rewarding without the unexpected detours life throws your way. Like the time my “one-off” unicorn photoshoot morphed into a glittering phenomenon that’s become the talk of Seattle’s kiddos and a few nostalgic adults!

My passion has always been horses and dogs. Capturing their strength, grace, and the unique bond they share with humans – that’s my happy place. My background is as a vet tech and the human animal bond has always been something I’ve felt honored to witness. My portrait business has been built around this, and I’m honored to have so many clients hire me to create art with their fur babies.

The “Unicorn Photoshoot Experience” idea started as a bit of a whim. A friend’s little girl, a self-proclaimed unicorn enthusiast, was having a birthday. I figured, why not? A little sparkle, a touch of fantasy – it could be fun! My horse Thor wore a flower wreathe (don’t tell him that’s not a manly outfit) and a golden unicorn horn, and he took to the role like a champ. But it wasn’t just Thor who stole the show. The best part was that she kept on insisting he was a real unicorn, even though she had met him many times before. Pure magic.

That’s when the lightbulb moment hit. Seattle, with its artistic vibes, whimsical nature settings, and love of all things fantastical, seemed like the perfect place to offer unicorn photoshoots. And guess what? I wasn’t wrong.

Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography
Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography

I already had an indoor photo studio on the farm for my portrait business, Beyond the Stables Photography. But I needed to set the tone for the whimsical sessions that had to be outdoors. So, I got to work and cleared an area easily accessible in sparkly shoes and flowing gowns and made my outdoor studio space. Then I went on a shopping frenzy, and now my client closet overflows with sparkly dresses fit for any size princess. And if parent approved each session ends with a unicorn rainbow lollipop. These sessions aren’t just for girls though, I’ve seen a surprising number of unicorn loving boys come through my studio as well. 

I love animal behavior, so almost every soul on my farm is clicker trained. The horses are no exception. We compete in Equine Trail Sports (think obstacle courses but on a trail system!), and clicker training has proven to be a huge advantage for us there. 

And with Equine Trail Sports, that's where the desensitization training comes in. It's crucial for this sport, but little did I know, it would be equally important for my budding unicorn empire. My horses are as cool as cucumbers when it comes to flapping flags, unexpected noises, and even the occasional rogue balloon. Perfect qualities for a unicorn photoshoot, especially if you throw in a toddler in a fancy tulle dress!

Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography
Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography

The clicker training allows me to communicate with my horses clearly, ensuring a positive and stress-free environment for everyone involved. My horses know when to stand still and wait, how to back up with a finger gesture, and even bow from a distance. Safety is my first priority, so I also have a unicorn handler at every photoshoot. 

Watching a child, mesmerized, reach out to touch my horses’ soft nose for the first time – that's the kind of magic I get to capture in my photos. These aren't just pictures, they're tangible memories of a moment where dreams meet reality. My favorite shots are when I manage to get a child with one finger reaching towards the unicorn horn, pure magic. 

Dozens of kids have walked through the gates of my farm. Some are repeat clients, their growing confidence around horses is heartwarming to witness. And I’m honored to be able to capture their milestones next to my unicorns. 

It may not have been the path I initially envisioned, but honestly, wouldn't trade it for the world. Yes, there are still days spent with more work than play to battle those rising hay bale prices. But the sheer joy on a child's face when they meet their real-life unicorn – that's priceless. So, Seattle, if you're looking to sprinkle some magic into your life, let's chat. We've got everything you need to make your sparkly dreams take flight. After all, when you have a camera, a couple of well-trained horses, and a sprinkle of imagination, anything is possible. Follow my socials @beyondthestablesphotography to see what magical projects I'm conjuring up. 

Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography
Photo By Beyond The Stables Photography
Christina Lathrop
Photographer at Beyond The Stables Photography

I'm Christina Lathrop, the creative force behind Beyond The Stables Photography. Nestled in the breathtaking Snoqualmie Valley, just a stone's throw away from Seattle, my life is a delightful blend of family and furry friends. I am a dedicated mother of 4, managing a bustling farm complete with an eclectic mix of horses, goats, pigs, dogs, cats and even some feathered friends.

With almost a decade of experience as a Licensed Vet Tech, I've got a unique edge when it comes to understanding animal behavior. My heart truly belongs to training horses, and that passion of mine shines through in my equine photography.

I specialize in capturing the human-animal bond and take the stress out of photoshoots to bring my clients the most gorgeous portraits for their walls. Whether it's in my cozy portrait studio in Fall City, WA or out and about in the greater Seattle area, I'm all about capturing the beauty of families and their beloved four-legged companions. From family photography, equine, pet photography, and I’m even here for you for those tender end of life sessions as well. I've got your moments covered. I work closely with you to understand your vision for one of a kind portraits of your family and pets. I’ll highlight the bonds of ever soul in the session and add my creative flair to produce gorgeous, one-of-a-kind pieces of art that will look stunning in your home. Let's create something truly special that you'll cherish for years to come! 

Located in Fall City, WA. Just between Klahanie and Sammamish.

Article Submitted by Christina Lathrop



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