Western lifestyle trifecta: Holmberg combines agricultural photography, media and performance horses
Laramie – Mackenzie Holmberg graduated from the University of Wyoming in 2018 with a degree in agricultural communications, along with minors in public relations and farm and ranch management. Throughout college, she knew she wanted to work in the equine industry, but wasn’t sure of the exact route she wanted to take.
After completing a few graphic design and photography classes, Mackenzie started working on graphics for friends and family to make money on the side of coursework. She had also worked for a reined cow horse trainer in her hometown of Steamboat Springs, Colo., for about seven years throughout high school and college, leading her to train and sell horses throughout her college career.
Upon graduating, Mackenzie traveled a bit, hitting Texas and Colorado and landed what she thought was her dream job in Montana, all while continuing to work graphic design on the side. Mackenzie realized she was ready to return to working for herself and revamp her personal businesses – Castilleja Cowgirl Photography, BonaFide Cowboy Media & Productions and Knockout Performance Horses.
Castilleja Cowgirl Photography
Mackenzie picked up photography as a necessity for the graphic design business, she explains. She needed photos for websites and designs, and was previously hiring out the work.
“After I started taking my own photos, I realized how much I liked it,” Mackenzie says. “I traveled to rodeos and ranch rodeos, I took event photos and even senior photos.”
She continues, “I tried it all. Ultimately, after trying it all and lots of experimenting, I settled on western life photography because I like showing off the beauty behind our western lifestyle. Whether it was photography for a cattle ranch, a horse breeder or trainer or a bodyworker, I was helping all of them.”
Today, Mackenzie focuses on branding photography within the agricultural and equine industries, noting she enjoys helping business owners produce photos they can use for their professional websites and social media.
She says, “We are in this time period now where agriculture is constantly under fire, and I feel its because there is a gap between people who grew up in urban settings and people who grew up rurally. I want to help bridge this gap by showing people in their element, what they are doing and the story behind their work.”
BonaFide Cowboy Media & Productions
Mackenzie’s design business, BonaFide Cowboy Media & Productions, previously rebranded from KNZ Design and Marketing, is centered around two ventures – local country music artists and equine businesses.
“I really like these clients because they are a lot of fun to work with and I get to be really creative,” Mackenzie shares. “I do anything from their photography to website design and then I design the graphics for their cover art.”
She adds, “On the other side, I work with equine businesses such as horse trainers and breeders, and some ranches. I do logo work, web design, graphics, flyers and basically anything they need on the spectrum of design and photography.”
Knockout Performance Horses
When it comes to Mackenzie’s performance horse business, she focuses on producing well-rounded, solid-minded horses anyone can ride.
“We try to fit the horse to the sport that fits them best,” she explains. “I think there’s a lot of people in the industry who try to fit horses into boxes they don’t always fit into based on their bloodlines or physical appearance.”
At Knockout Performance Horses, Mackenzie works to find what horses enjoy doing and fit them into their preferred activity.
“Sometimes we get young horses that we train and finish, and sometimes we get a little older horses that have already been started but didn’t get the start they needed,” she notes. “Sometimes these horses need a little rehabilitation.”
Mackenzie shares she works closely with a bodyworker and a dentist to make sure horses’ bodies are working the way they should.
“If the horse is hurting, they can’t perform well and won’t take to training well,” she says.
Horses training at Knockout Performance Horses spend a minimum of six months with Mackenzie, and although it is a longer process, she is confident when horses sell they are ready to do the job they’ve been trained for.
“It takes more time and effort, but this process is much more rewarding,” Mackenzie shares, noting she spends time to make sure she knows the abilities and weaknesses of the horse for potential buyers. “This is what I would want to know if I was buying a horse.”
She adds, “I don’t sell anything as bomb-proof, because if a bomb went off, I would hope the horse would have a reaction. What I do instead is teach them to react in an acceptable manner. I think we have to remember we are working with animals with a mind of their own, and if there is anything I have learned over the years is they are a lot smarter than we think.”
From the photography business, to graphic design and website construction to building solid horses, Mackenzie looks to advance her work in the industries.
“Everything I do, I try to do as authentically as possible,” she says. “From the style within the photography I produce to editing and designing, I try to showcase the western lifestyle.”
For more information, visit Mackenzie’s website at knzbrand.com. Each business can be found on social media at @bonafide.cowboy, @castillejacowgirl and @knockouthorses.
Averi Hales is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.