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Wilmington, NC 28411



Find the latest sessions, offers, and news for Virginia Gates Photography based in Wilmington, NC. 

Horses That Heal

Virginia Gates


Today, Cape Fear Living Magazine published a four page spread of my artwork as well as the cover for their April issue featuring the Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program. I am over the moon excited to hold my work for the first time in magazine form. Even more than that, though, is that this first publishing experience be connected to an organization I am so passionate about and grateful for. 

When my daughter was born nearly 5 years ago, I, like so many other mothers suffered from postpartum depression. If you have never experienced this illness or supported a partner through it, it's a scary, demanding, growing beast that leaves mamas lost, overwhelmed, and feeling utterly alone. One of the few things I've known to be true without a doubt besides my love for my children, is that the barn is a sanctuary for me. Horses have guided me throughout my life with their endless lessons of patience, peace, and determination. When I met Kim Niggel, executive director of CTRP, I had picked up a camera with a dream, strapped my infant daughter to my chest in a front carrier, and schlepped my way to any barn in Wilmington that would have me to take photos trying desperately to find my place back into the horse world. Kim and I hit it off. She asked if I would come take photos of some of their lessons for new marketing material and their website. She even was okay with me bringing my daughter along. In fact, if you know Kim you know how much she absolutely LOVES babies. Kim welcomed me and little Nat into the magical world of CTRP and I began slowly to find myself again. My recovery from PPD was long and arduous, but without fail, the horses and people of CTRP encouraged me and my work giving me a place to truly feel at home. 

So today, as my two little munchkins and I clambered to the Harris Teeter on Market and Natalie said "Oh, Mama, I am so excited for you!" I got more than a little misty eyed. The horses and staff of the Coastal Therapeutic Riding Program are family to me. Exactly as they are to the special needs members of our community that thrive within their program. CTRP shines light into so many lives in Wilmington, especially mine. Thank you to Kim, Sarah, and Courtnee for always making me feel welcomed to drop by and get pony snuggles on the bad days and for Art Director Sam Lowe for her interest in using my work for the magazine.