Based in the Berkshires
Dana Goedewaagen started developing her eye for photographing horses as an eight-year-old taking lessons with pony trainer Emerson Burr at the Fairfield County Hunt Club (FCHC) in Westport, Connecticut. Burr taught her the importance of attention to detail and a solid work ethic. He revealed the amazing things that can happen when horses and humans connect.
By 18, Dana decided she didn’t have the resources or talent to pursue a riding career. Instead, she became a groom at FCHC, caring for a barn full of brilliant hunters and jumpers, including Leslie Burr-(Lenehan)-Howard’s first big Grand Prix jumper, Chase the Clouds, in addition to April Rullah, Emerald Bay and many others. It was a thrilling, heady time—until Chase the Clouds colicked and died. “It was my first great loss, my first heartbreak,” Dana says. She left FCHC soon after he died.
Jerry Nielsen, Sr. owner of the Thoroughbred breeding facility at Sunnyfield Farm in Bedford, New York, hired Dana to groom for his daughters, Karen and Sandy, both leading competitors on the junior hunter-jumper circuit. At Sunnyfield, Dana cared for an impressive string of show jumpers, including Watership Down, Master Dan, Taxi and French Leave. After Karen and Sandy aged out of junior competition, Dana settled into grooming for Mary and Harvey Waller at Orleton Farm in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Grooming is grueling. After decades of working with horses 365 days a year, Dana made a clean break from the horse business and began a new career as a Respiratory Therapist, a job that allowed her time to pursue personal interests. Seven years ago, a desire to create homemade Christmas gifts inspired Dana to try her hand at photography. Not long after she picked up her first digital SLR, the work ethic she learned from Emerson Burr kicked in and she became determined to master the art of capturing life through a camera lens. A chance visit back to Orleton Farm turned photographing horses into an obsession.
From the beginning, Dana’s photographs have shown her groom’s eye for detail and connection. Her work focuses on capturing individual personalities and the physical, emotional, even spiritual links that bond horses and humans. She particularly loves to photograph people who care for horses—grooms, farriers, veterinarians—and to depict the unique chemistry between equines and their caregivers. To further support grooms and their work, Dana photographs for The Grooms Award, which is presented to the groom of the winning horse at events including the Pennsylvania National Horse Show, the Devon Horse Show, and the Del Mar National Horse Show. As a volunteer photographer for Equine Advocates in Valatie, New York, she helps raise funds to support 80 rescued horses, donkeys, and mules.
Dana appreciates every step of the winding road that led from her first riding lessons to her current life as a Respiratory Therapist and Equine Photographer. “I’ve been lucky,” she says, “I’ve had amazing jobs, met incredible people. For over 10 years, I didn’t look at or touch a horse. I thought I never wanted to see another one. Photography brought horses back into my life. It’s a wonderful gift.”
Berkshire Photo Gathering
Guild of Berkshire Artists
Nikon Professional Services
First Fridays, Pittsfield MA, February 2018
Berkshire Humane Society, Pittsfield MA, ongoing
Kimball Farm, Lenox MA, January 2023
Berkshire Magazine, Wild Places competition 2020, Honorable Mention
Berkshire Magazine, Secret Places competition 2019, Winner
Berkshire Bank Calendar 2023, Cover and Overall Best Photo, Winner