Meet Mandi and her daughter Shelley, along with granddaughter, Savannah. Mandi and Shelley have quite the menagerie of animals, and they invited me along to photograph them yesterday!
Based in Hampshire, 5 minutes from their home they're lucky enough to have several acres to keep their animals. Mandi wanted a horse her whole life, but eventually at 21 and after saving up enough to buy her own, she was able to do so! Shelley has always remembered her parents having horses - the mare that the shoot was predomenantly based around, was their 30 year old mare, Cassie.
Shelley remembers Cassie entering their family when she was 5 years old, and Cassie just a youngster. Cassie, a beautiful welsh mare was purchased at the Reading Market in 1987 for £30. Mandi described her to me as being beautiful and intelligent, which she certinally was! Cassie had also had a foal which is sadly no longer with us, but Mandi excitedly showed off her "Circle of Friendship" necklace from Tail End Jewellery made from Cassie's foals tail hair.
Despite being 30 years old, Cassie was full of life! She kept us on our toes several times as she snorted and spooked, mostly at Savannah! She sure had the stubborn traits of a pony as we led her down to the field she kept digging her heels in!
"Cassie has reached the grand age of 30, her face has grey patches which I would like to capture. Also we have a special relationship and I don't have many photos of me with her."
The horses are obviously adored by both Shelley and Mandi. There are three new forest ponies: Pepsi, Maddie and Robyn. They also share the field with Rosie, a very unusual breed indeed - a Belgian Draft. You don't see many of those in England, that's for sure! She was imported from Holland several years ago, now aged 18. Shelley laughed and said she's "left hand drive" coming from Europe, out hacking she likes to go on the wrong side of the road!
Maddie wasn't too keen on Cassie taking most of the spotlight and kept walking right across the shot, much to our amusement! With Cassie snorting at Savannah, we definately took advantage of this rather unique way to get her ears forward - Shelley walked up and down behind me with Savannah!
In particular Mandi said she loved black and white pictures as well as the ones where the owner is crouching on the floor interacting with the horse. Cassie did fall asleep several times during the shoot, but what a sweet girl she is, you definately wouldn't know she was 30! When we'd finished photographing her, Mandi took Cassie's headcollar off and she shot across the field bucking, to join the others - they all then enjoyed a mad few moments careering around the field!
It was a minute or two's drive up the road to their other fields. We were greeted by the two donkeys - the "Bray twins" Ronnie and Reggie as well as the small flock of Jacob's sheep. The donkeys, who I am told are completely inseperable, are a right double act - so they were occupied with a bowl of feed whilst we made our way across their field to meet Shelley's beautiful 8 year old leopard spot Appaloosa gelding. The sheep followed along behind us and wanted to follow us right down to Alfie's field. They sometimes keep him company in his field.
"I bought Alfie as yearling in poor condition, he had been kept in a barn. He has blossomed and turned into a real character. He is a real poser with Arab like qualities."
Alfie had been bred by an old man in Kidderminster where he had seveal Appaloosa's - again another breed that's not overly common in the UK! Sadly his mum passed away when he was 6 weeks old so he was hand reared - Shelley said he's very human orientated and perhaps this is why. He's recently been broken to ride, bitless.
With a western "look" about him, he really suited the bridle that Shelley had, had imported over from the USA for him. There were even cowboy boots featured in the shoot! Alfie's favourite part of the shoot was probably the bit where he got to show off and run around the field - although I'm not quite sure he understood the directions we were giving him to run towards the gate where his food bowl was, he seemed to quite like running towards me with the camera!