Kaitlyn fell in love with the ranch instantly. The sprawling land immediately felt right to her, and as she spent more and more time on horseback exploring the vast property, her heart knew that she had found home. The golden hay fields bordered by cottonwoods, split down the middle by a river, and backed by Rocky mountains were everything that this girl had ever envisioned in her cowgirl dreams. The daughter of a large animal vet and a teen rodeo queen, she left her childhood home in California and found herself continually moving farther northeast, first to college, then to Yellowstone as a horse wrangler, and then to Montana for her graduate program in animal science.
And now she was here - on a vast cattle ranch in the most beautiful country she had seen yet. It was in a remote corner of Montana - a quiet, stunning, and perfect place for a cowgirl like her.
But as beautiful, peaceful, and dreamy as the ranch was to her, it wasn't the reason Kaitlyn had found home. Her home was the boy that had brought her here. Mark had also been raised in California, but his true ambition had always been to someday manage the family ranch in Montana - to dedicate his life to ranching in this remote place where horses, cattle, dogs, moose, and deer outnumber the people. Where neighbors become family, life moves slowly, and the days are filled with hard satisfying work.
As much as this ranch had stolen her heart, the reason Kaitlyn felt like she had found her home was because her home was in Mark.
Mark manages his family's ranch in the southwest corner of Montana, and to watch him live this dream everyday is quite inspiring. He and Kaitlyn love this place more than they can express, and you can tell that they are going to be on this very same land with their beloved horses and animals until they're old and gray. Because the ranch is such a big part of their story, they're getting married right on the property next year - saying their vows in a hay field with their closest friends and family surrounding them. It only made sense to shoot their engagement photos on the ranch as well, so Jeff and I flew up and spent a few days scouting, shooting, and riding. For those of you that know me and my obsession with horses, this shoot was nothing short of a dream for me. I mean - shooting at one of the most stunning places I've ever seen AND photographing horses?? I just about DIED.
This is the field in which they'll most likely hold the ceremony next year, so it's such a cool thing to have these photos in the same spot.
Of course, the horses had a wonderful time grazing through the hay fields - ha!
Mark and Kaitlyn brought along all of the their pups and their favorite truck for the shoot, White Lightning (like true ranchers, they have an arsenal of trucks to choose from).
I mean, this place is unreal. Every corner is breathtaking, and we were using just a small fraction of the property. The ranch has something like 11,000-12,000 acres in total!
As you'll soon see, we couldn't get enough of this shoot. Mark and Kaitlyn were not only dynamite in front of the camera, but the horses were seriously cute and cuddly!
Such a cute one - definitely one of my favorites from this series!
We handed the horses off to our crew of helpers (thanks everyone for your help - you guys were awesome!) and walked through the fields with these two cuties.
One of my favorites! This part of the ranch is incredibly peaceful and calm. It's one of my favorites spots from the trip.
The pups were hilarious - the tall grass would hide their bodies, so you would see random grass moving around, and then they would jump out with giant smiling dog faces. These are happy ranch dogs for sure!
So this is just the tip of the Montana iceberg folks. Tomorrow's post is going to blow your socks right off your feet because the best stuff is still to come. I can't even begin to describe how good it's going to get, so you'll just have to come by tomorrow to check out the mind-blowing awesomeness!