This year’s Photo Contest broke all previous records for number of photos entered and the number of photographers participating! The Equiery received just under 300 photos from 106 photographers. Previously, the contest averaged around 200 photos submitted from 70 photographers.

Most of our photographers live right here in Maryland; but six came from Pennsylvania, two from Virginia and one from Washington, DC. This year we even had entries from as far west as Portland, Oregon, and as far south as Raeford, North Carolina. All out of state photographers submitted photos taken in Maryland or of Maryland-residents competing or traveling out of state. Most of our photographers were amateurs, including six juniors. Fifteen professional photographers also participated.

The Portraits category had the most entries, at 76, while the Farm Life category close behind with 75 entries. There were 52 entries for the Equine Sports category, 46 entries for Black & White, and 33 entries for Maryland Foals.

We were unable to accept several entries because they did not meet our image quality requirements, or because the person submitting the picture did not have rights to the image or did not provide all of the information we requested. As always, contest rules and guidelines for submitting are on year-round.

Our panel of judges selected images based on image quality and how best they represented each category entered. Judges did not know either the photographer or the subject at the time of judging. The next several pages feature the various category winners and other special award winners. More photos will be posted on The Equiery’s Facebook page throughout the month so be sure to follow us at

2023 Grand Champion, Top Professional Photographer & Black/White Winner: This year’s Grand Champion photo was taken by professional photographer Jason Jackson of Raeford, North Carolina. It is called “Here is Your Mark! Play Polocrosse!”, and shows 11-year-old Maryland-resident Hailey Mae Poe of MHC Association member the Bay Area Polocrosse Club riding Lexi, who was adopted through Maryland Horse Rescue, at the Carolina Polocrosse Tournament in Pinehurst, NC. The tournament was held over Memorial Day weekend.

Judges were drawn to the crispness of the image and the way it caught the drama of polocrosse, as well as to Poe’s striking expression. The contrast and fine details in the horse and rider are striking and vibrant, which makes for an engaging and dynamic cover. This image also won the Black & White category.

2023 Reserve Grand Champion & Portraits Winner: This year’s Reserve Grand Champion photo is entitled “Pumpkin Patch” and is by professional photographer Hayleey Needham of Silver Spring. The photo is of off-the-track Thoroughbred siblings Polly and Straws at Windsor Manor Stables in Sandy Spring. Judges were impressed by Needham’s staging of this photo as well as the composition and colors. This image was also the Portraits category winner.
Top Junior Photographer: One of our junior photographers, Brody Chance Tankolonis of Hampstead, made it to the last round of voting for her image “My Twin Sister and Her Pony.” Our judges picked the image as the Black & White category runner-up, and it was also a leading contender for the cover. 
Top Amateur Photographer: Charles Toler of Clarksville entered 10 photos to this year’s contest with one winning a category and many others earning several votes. Two of the judges’ favorite photos he entered were “King George” in the Black & White category (pictured here) and “Leader of the Pack”, which won the Equine Sports category.
Maryland Horse Council Members’ Top Pick: Maryland Horse Council members selected “A Kind Eye” by Brian Shoemaker of Frederick as their favorite photo of 2023. The photo is of the Maryland-bred AQHA gelding Chick at Reiners Rules, LLC in Frederick last September. 
Equestrian Sports Winner: Although in the first round of voting, the image “Leader of the Pack” by Charles Toler of Clarksville was in second place, it ended up moving to the top of the Equine Sport category by round two and was named the winner. The image is of Howard County-Iron Bridge Hounds huntsman Kelly Burdge and staff leading hounds at the start of a hunt last fall. The composition of the image with the trees nicely framing the horses, riders and hounds make it a winning shot.
Horse Farm Life Winner: Jennifer Sulin of Catonsville won the Farm Life category with her photo “Spring,” taken at Plot Twist Farm in Glenwood. Judges felt this photo captures a moment of farm life that many can relate to… a lovely hack down the farm drive on a spring day!
Maryland Foals Winner: “Hi, I’m New Here” not only is the Maryland Foal category winner but was in the running for Grand Champion! This photo by Brandie Shepherd of Clarksville is of Eclaire at Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue. Shepherd snapped the photo during a volunteer event in June. Judges loved the quality of the image, depth of field, colors and of course, the foal’s floppy ears and quiet expression.