Every Thanksgiving I travel with my family to Northern Illinois to spend the holiday with my side of the family. But of course I can't turn down the opportunity to meet new equestrians and their lovely horses. So Amanda asked me to come out to photograph her OTTB's (off track thoroughbreds) before the feast.

Calvin (bay w/ blaze) and Gus were a rowdy pair for sure. They definitely tested the limits of my "can handle any horse situation" guarantee. But every now and then they gave me a glimpse into the love they have for Amanda and it was sweet as pumpkin pie.

These photos ended up being more special than either Amanda or myself could have expected though. Sadly, just a little less than a month after her session, Amanda contacted me to tell me about the unexpected death of Calvin.

Life is cruel sometimes. It gives us these gorgeous animals that we connect so deeply with, and then will snatch them from us in an instant without a single warning. I'm so glad that I got the opportunity to meet sweet spunky Calvin. And I know Amanda is grateful that she booked the session so she could have photos to forever cherish his memory.

Enjoy a glimpse at some of my favorites from this shoot and give your own pony an extra tight squeeze in memory of Calvin.