Passion for Horses

This is part of a series about my Artist in Residence for the Arts Center of Yates County.  For more on my Series, visit “10 days as an Artist in Residence”  and “Paws in the Gallery”


My project during my visit to Penn Yan, was to take pictures of women business owners with their animal companions.  I was given Barb Havill’s Name.  Barb and her husband Eric own Havill Pottery in Branchport NY and have been in business for 45 years.   The Havill’s shop is a quaint little building on their 50-acre farm.  Here, Barb is able to pursue her passion for horses as well as for pottery.

Barb came out to greet me as I arrived and provided a wonderful history of how she and Eric bought the land and home and built their business.  They are both full-time potters and have raised their children via their eye for fine art, functional stoneware and business expertise.

Barb took me to the Pottery shop and kiln room which are directly across the drive from their home.  The building is divided in two parts.  One half contains the shop while the other side holds the greenware and 2 kilns.  The big gas fire kiln runs from floor to ceiling and was hand built by the Havill’s.  Barb then took me to her studio in her home and showed me how she would cut, knead and throw the pottery on her wheel.  She finished the tour of her work with a brief show of her brushwork on the pieces.  Eric and Barb both throw pottery, he tends to do the larger items and she does the smaller.  She does all the brushwork on all the pieces, while Eric glazes and fires the pottery. The pottery is all oven, microwave and dishwasher safe and free of lead.

They have a unique business method in that they run their pottery shop like a food stand.  Visitors are free to come at any time to purchase their items.

Barb has a passion for horses and owns two thoroughbreds.  Shotta is an 18 year old  Barb bought two days after his last race as a four-year-old while Rio is 12 years old and was adopted from the Finger Lakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program near Farmingham NY.   Both won or placed in a couple of races during their brief racing careers.  Barb continues to train them in jumping and dressage, and takes lessons once a week.

Once we finished the tour of her workspace, we headed to the barn to visit with Shotta and Rio.  Barb explained how Rio and Shotta have a special bond and get into mischief at times when they are together.  Barb saddled Rio for our photo session and a brief ride around the yard.  During our visit at the barn, a couple came to purchase some items in the shop.  Barb called out to the couple to come on down and visit with the horses when they were done.  The couple happily did this and were rewarded with a wealth of information about the horses and business.

Barb was a wonderful host and I enjoyed my visit thoroughly.


Nancy Kieffer is a photographer serving  the Central New York and Adirondack region.  Travel assignments also welcomed.   If you would like to book a lifestyle session for your pet, Please email me at or call 315-469-8807