The Equiery’s 2021 Photo Contest Winners!

We had over 200 entries for this year’s Annual Photo Contest. The entries covered a wide range of subjects: from barn cats, to foals, to sunsets, to action shots, just to name just a few. The entries came from Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts. As in years past, the Farm Life category had the most entries, followed by Portraits, and then Sports. This year created a new award category: MHC Members’ Top Pick!

Our only voting criterion was the artistic quality of the photograph. Our judges looked for high-quality images with rich, crisp colors, and excellent focus and exposure as well as interesting compositions. Judges did not know who the photographer was, nor did they have any background information on the entries when casting their votes.

We hope you enjoy the following pages filled with this year’s category winners! We will be posting all of the contest submissions to our Facebook page during the month of August, so be sure to follow us at

Grand Champion, Farm Life Winner & Top Amateur Photographer
It is always difficult to pick one image out of more than 200 excellent submissions. This year, however, one photograph stood out above the rest–“The Early Worm” by amateur photographer Charles Toler of Clarksville. It received the most votes in the Farm Life category and was our judges’ pick for this year’s August cover.

The photo of a groom bringing in a young horse was taken on an early morning at Chanceland Farm in West Friendship. One our judges said, “That photo is not only beautiful, it is about farm life specifically, not just horses on a farm.” Another judge said, “The photo isn’t biased towards any specific discipline. Everyone can relate. It captures the essence of why we all love horses.”

The colors and composition are lovely and the image has a quiet soft sense that appealed to the judges. Charles also submitted other photos that received much praise, making him this year’s Top Amateur Photographer winner.


Reserve Grand Champion: Melissa Giesler of Mt. Airy submitted this photo taken by amateur photographer Alexis Paul of junior rider Georgia Jean Wisooker and Willie B Reddy. The photo is called “Pure Love,” and it received the second highest number of votes for this month’s cover. It’s a fantastic example of a good quality photo with bright colors, a crisp image, and beautiful composition.


Top Professional Photographer: Sherri Holdridge of Kensington submitted seven photos to this year’s contest. Her images have a very painterly feel to them, which made them stand out as true works of art. This photo, “Tender Moments,” of a mare and foal at Assateague Island almost looks like a black and white graphite drawing. You can see every hair and whisker of the horses in high definition. Sherri also produced our Portraits category winner!


Top Junior Photographer: Brandon Miller of Frederick submitted four photos to our contest, all of which caught the eyes of our judges. His interesting use of perspective, as seen in this photograph entitled “Living the Life,” was creative and unusual. This photograph in particular also checked all the boxes of crisp and clean, lovely lines and interesting composition.


Maryland Horse Council Members’ Top Pick: Maryland Horse Council members had the chance to weigh in this year with the new “MHC Members’ Top Pick” award. This year’s winner is amateur photographer Margaret Osborne of Frederick, with her portrait “Gus Gus.” The photo was taken at Riley Meadows in Frederick and is of Michelle Rahman’s cute mini.


Equine Sports Winner: For the second year in a row, professional photographer Kim Harmon of Frederick wins the Equestrian Sports category. This year, her image “Leaping Off the Turn” shows the moment of take off as the horse gallops around a barrel. One judge commented that this photograph is the total package with “the intense young rider, the position, balance, and gung-ho aggression of the pony is just great.”


Maryland Foals Winner: Charles Toler earned a second top award this year with his image “Corinnaise & Corinnaise 21” in the Foals category. The photo was also taken at Chanceland Farm in West Friendship, and shows Thoroughbred mare Corinnaise with her latest foal Corinnaise 21. Corinnaise 21 is by the Maryland stallion Mosler. The image is a technically excellent photograph that shows a tender moment between mom and baby.


Portraits Winner: The Portraits category received our second highest number of entries. This entry, by professional photographer Sherri Holdridge of Kensington, won out over 50 other entries. The image is called “A Master and His Hounds,” and shows Goshen Hounds Huntsman Robert Taylor with a few of his pack at Tusculum Farm in Laytonsville. One judge stated, “The lighting, the color, the setting, and the emotion of this photo won me over.”


Black & White Winner: Professional photographer Jeff Gagliano of Mechanicsville took this year’s Black & White category winning photograph, called “Kick Your Heels Up.” The image is of Suttler Post Farm Clydesdales pulling the farm’s wagon, taken from an interesting angle. One judge commented, “The draft horse rig is beautiful. I love the angle, the setting, everything!”


Don’t forget to check out more winners in the August 2021 print edition and all submissions on The Equiery’s Facebook page!