West Chester, Pennsylvania
Professional Model and Photographer
How long have you been part of the horse world?
I’m a lifelong equestrian and have been riding since before I could walk. I have photos of me on my mother’s horse, Rasheyda, at Devon when I was probably 3 years old. My first pony was Cupcake, an adorable pinto mare I would ride everywhere. One of my fondest memories was bringing her home for my 6th birthday party and giving my friends pony rides in the backyard! I grew up right outside of Philadelphia in a very busy suburb, so needless to say, it was a hit and not something many other kids had for their party!
What part do you play in the horse world?
I am an owner, rider, competitor, groom and caretaker. I own two horses: King, my soon-to-be-25-year-old Arabian, and Sammy, a 14-year-old Shagya. I do self-care at the small farm where I live and just love being the provider for my boys. I know what they eat, how much they poop, if Sammy needs sunblock for his nose and if King needs eye drops for his allergies. I know the two inside and out and love making sure they are OK.
How did you become an equine and fashion photographer?
I have been an art and animal lover since I was a child. I used to doodle horses for every project school asked for. Everything became about horses! I’ve been doing photography for a while, and in 2016, I decided to go to a workshop run by one of my idols, April Visel. Every morning we were up at 5 a.m. to beat the sunrise for shoots, then class time, then sunset shoots. It was amazing. I learned so much about lighting and timing, and it just gave me a whole new perspective on shooting. Being a model myself, I find it easy to ask for the shots with the models. I love photographing people and horses, sometimes together!
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I love making art though my photography: It gives me a creative outlet, while creating memories on print for my clients. I love spending the days of excitement with a client and their new horse, or a new model who needs help to flourish in her photos and ends up being a working model, the breeder with the stallion she worked so hard on perfecting with her program, and especially the special last moments someone has with their senior horse. My job is special. As a photographer, we help document memories, and I find that pretty cool.
How did you become a model on QVC?
I was working with a photographer for just some fun photos. She was a professional model in the past and suggested it. I wasn’t sure how I felt, but figured what the heck. I then went to an agency in Philadelphia and was signed on the spot.
What do you like about modeling on QVC?
As a model, I love trying on new jewelry, clothes and accessories. I’ve met and worked for numerous star designers, including Issac Mizrahi and Martha Stewart. It’s fun seeing what the new trends are going to be before anyone else does! My job on QVC is to help clients choose their clothing. I’m a regular on-air model for QVC and have at some points 100 million viewers. It’s fun to be able to sell something on television without saying a word. The hosts are talking, but my job is to show the fit, stretch and feel. It’s a wonderful feeling when I run into viewers or have someone message me in my inbox saying they love when I work because they like how I sell the clothing to them. I’m a size 14, so many women tell me they appreciate having someone their size to compare.
What’s the best thing about working for QVC?
The connections I have made with the women who work there. Some may wonder how so many women can be in the same room and all get along. Well, we do. I’ve made the best of friends. We all can relate to the crazy hours, we are on air till 3 a.m. live. We have been through heartaches, love, children, achievements, and we are like sisters.
What fun things have happened while modeling at QVC?
My favorite fun story is chatting with Martha Stewart before going live on one of her shows. I was coordinating Ladies Hat Day a few years ago at Dressage at Devon and planning a Diamonds and Denim Party fundraiser. She lent me a rhinestone-embellished dress that she made! I couldn’t believe it. It was so thoughtful of her. She is a very fascinating woman and very gracious.
What’s the best thing about your life?
I love everything I do. I work hard, very hard, and sometimes it’s exhausting. I am single so have 20 jobs to do besides my real jobs, but I’m happy. I love being able to say I love what I do. I live on a small farm in an adorable cottage. I can see King and Sammy outside of my window while editing photos or having coffee—a big change from a rowhouse near Philadelphia. I love peace and quiet. It’s very tranquil here.
What’s your biggest achievement in the horse world?
King is the epitome of a super horse. Every discipline I have taken him to regionals in, he has won championships. In 2020, at age 23 and after a 6-year hiatus because of an injury, King qualified with an almost undefeated year for the U.S. Arabian Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was exhilarating and a dream to be there. Coming home with a Top 10 or seventh in the country in my division was just the icing on the cake! In 2021 we made a return trip and King and I had the honor of carrying the American flag for the opening ceremonies for the championship classes. We loped around to Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” and then halted for the National Anthem. I had so many emotions; this was a horse that I was told would possibly never be ridden again, let alone compete. It was truly the American dream of hard work and dedication.
Best-kept secret about what you do?
I burn “good intention” incense while I’m editing photos and have a wish bowl. I put things into the universe that I would like, and it happens. It’s pretty fascinating.
Photos by Sue McDaid Photography