Behind The Photo: Celebrating Pride Month In Braids

Jun 26, 2020 - 8:00 AM

When Shawna Simmons was scrolling through Instagram last week she came across an image that made her stop. The photo was a snapshot of a dark bay horse in braids that started red at the poll and cycled through the colors of the rainbow to the withers. The picture was on the page of her friend and collaborator, professional braider Kerianne Manipole, and it had the hashtag #pridemonth, referencing that June is LGBT Pride Month.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God, we need to actually do a shoot for this! It’ll be really cool,’ ” said Simmons, Washington, District of Columbia. “Especially on a gray horse it’ll really pop.”

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Shawna Simmons arranged for a photoshoot of Jordan Lubow’s Anthemis Z sporting rainbow-colored braids to celebrate Gay Pride Month. SAS Equine Photography Photos

Simmons owns SAS Equine Photography and splits her time between private photoshoots and about magazine and brand partnerships. One of her brand partners is Exhibitor’s Equine, which produces the braiding spray Quic Braid, and she knew the rainbow braids would be a great fit for them.

So Simmons, who was at the Aiken Summer Classic (South Carolina), reached out to Jordan Lubow about borrowing her hunter Anthemis Z for the shoot.

“He’s such a cool derby horse,” said Simmons. “He’s special, he’s unique, and Jordan was someone whom I thought would be supportive of the rainbow braids idea, too. Not every owner would care or be supportive, and she was. I thought it’d be a good choice. It worked out really well. For Kerianne’s sake I was trying to pick a horse that was easy to braid also.”

Lubow loved the idea. She’s had the 7-year-old Zangersheide for four years and competes him in the 3’9” green hunters and the USHJA International Hunter Derbies.

“I think it’s really important, especially with everything going on, that we support everyone in our community that we can,” Lubow said.

“I love the idea of being able to celebrate the idea of Pride Month in our community in any way that I can,” she added.

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Shawna Simmons frequently recruits braider Kerianne Manipole to braid her subjects for photoshoots.

Simmons has had requests for prints of the photo, and she’s selling them with 50% of the proceeds going to The Trevor Project, an organization that supports LGBTQ youth in crisis.

“I just think with everything going on right now, it’s important to voice my thoughts on equality, acceptance, love,” said Simmons. “I posted a statement in regards to Black Lives Matter on my Instagram. I’ve had a lot of conversations with my brand partners to make sure we do a better job and continue to do a good job being inclusive to everyone in this sport. Pride Month got a little bit lost with everything going on. I wanted to make sure I still spoke that on my page and in my brand. For me, it’s kind of my way to voice it, post about it. It’s really important to me to make sure that the community feels accepted in the equestrian world as well.”

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