Kelly Jean Douglas

"My Two Blonds"
second place Peninsula People

Kelly Douglas is apologetic as she tells the story behind the photograph that took second place in the Peninsula People category.

"This picture was taken more for ego purposes than anything else," she said. "I wanted to document the horse for my personal portfolio." The two blondes are, in order of size, Big Jake, a 17-hand Belgian draft horse who, at an estimated 2,000 pounds, is twice the weight of an average horse. The smaller blonde is Douglas' 9-year-old son, Christopher, a third-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School in Redwood City.

Douglas is the manager at Westwind Barn in Los Altos Hills, a town-owned, nonprofit horse boarding facility. For the past 12 years, she has overseen the well-being of the 50 or so horses that call Westwind home. A native of San Carlos, Douglas, 37, has loved horses since she was a young girl.

"My father always encouraged me to do what I wanted because so many people are unhappy in their jobs. There are things about this work that are difficult, but then I stop and think that this is really a dream job," Douglas said.

In addition to managing the boarding horses at Westwind Barn, Douglas has developed an education program featuring 3-year-old Big Jake. Every five or six weeks, groups of children visit Westwind to learn about farming before the age of automation. Douglas describes Big Jake as a "demo horse" who shows off the harnesses and other equipment, including sleigh bells. He also pulls a cart and a plow.

The photo was taken at the Westwind stables one afternoon early this year. Christopher Douglas, a fixture at Westwind since he was 2 weeks old, was leading Big Jake out of the barn, Douglas remembers. "One of the women there said, `There goes Kelly's two blondes,' which inspired the name for the photo. Another woman said, `It's a Kodak moment!' and lent me her camera, an older Minolta, to take the picture. I was so proud of both of them. We put a clean shirt on Chris and had him stand on a stool and took a couple of pictures."

Before submitting the image to the contest, Douglas said, she gave a copy to Chris' grandmother and hung another copy in her office.

At the time "My Two Blondes" was shot, Douglas' own camera was in her truck, but she insists she's a very casual photographer who has no professional training.

"This photo was a personal shot. It was really based on this particular horse and the educational work he does," Douglas said. "This was my first photography contest. I do have to say that it did start me thinking about taking more pictures, especially of Jake."

--Ingrida Berzins