Meet Julie and her very photogenic coloured mare, Jessie. Along with her husband Rupert and their other horses, Hero and Teddy. Oh, and not forgetting their latest addition, 9 week old Bonnie who we had to have cuddles with before we met the horses, of course!
Jessie is 12 years old, and has been owned by Julie for 7 years. I'd been looking forward to Julie's shoot for quite a while, I knew the location would be idyllic and both Jessie and Julie are lovely! They're located in Compton at the Hamilton stables, also where Geoff Deacon trains. We made our way up to the gallops to the fields overlooking the Ridgeway with Teddy and Hero.
I had been warned about Teddy and her little antics, don't be fooled by her cuteness! Dun, with a dorsal stripe, 4 year old Teddy lept up and down the track, mainly on her back legs behind Hero who didn't bat an eyelid. What a little monkey she was!
Rupert and Hero went first! Hero was an absolute pro and pricked his ears forward, looking in to the distance whilst I snapped away. Teddy was being occupied with a couple of mouthfuls of grass, Julie then swapped over with Rupert to have some photographs taken with Hero. A striking big bay gelding, Hero is now 20 years old. Sadly he has been retired due to a dejenerative condition in his legs. He's had such an action packed life and definately deserves a happy retirement; he's taken Julie eventing as well as being Rupert's hunt horse over the years. Despite his name, I'm told he's a big wouss, and definately no hero!
Teddy was on her best behaviour for some "family" shots with both Julie and Rupert. Teddy is a rescue shetland that Julie and Rupert adopted to keep Hero company when Jessie goes out to pony parties, his very own teddy bear!
Julie and Rupert then turned the horses out in to their paddock a short walk up the track. Hero looked on as Teddy proceeded to fly flat out around us in circles. Bucking and broncing, he looked on and you could almost see him sighing as Teddy kept up her "wall of death." Clearly, she's spent too much time watching the race horses working up the hill alongside her paddock! Julie laughed and said she loves jumping, but she'd probably be harder to pull up than some of those race horses!
Rupert had to head off to work, so it was Jessie's turn in front of the camera, with Julie. She describes Jessie as a real work horse or loves to please, she thrives on her work and really loves her job. Julie said that Jessie is such a special horse to her. Together they enjoy a bit of everything, from hacking across the gorgeous hills around the yard, to eventing together as well as being part of Team Chiltern - participating in local riding club clinics and representing the RC at events.
I had a late night email from Julie the evening before her shoot to say they were all sparkling and clean and that she was looking forward to the shoot. Much to our disapointment, we woke up to rain! We decided to move the shoot back by half an hour or so as it looked like it was starting to clear up. When I arrived it had stopped raining and everything was good to go!
Scenic views over West Berkshire created such a perfect backdrop and that was something that was important for me to capture during the shoot. With the golden corn fields and rolling hills behind, the grey moody sky above gave us such a wonderful background. We made perfect use of the strings of horses cantering up the grass which was an ideal way to get Jessie's ears forward, or getting her to face a particular way!
Julie warned me she doesn't really like having her photo, and can be very shy when the camera comes out - she'd been assured by several other members of Chiltern that had, had a shoot with me, that the whole experience was laid back and totally relaxed! I love to capture that special relationship between horse and owner and it was very easy indeed to do that with these two! The natural shots are always my favourite during shoots and both ladies were a pleasure to photograph! We worked through a variety of different poses, bribing Jessie with Polo's where necessary! It was lovely chatting away to Julie during her shoot as before when I've seen her, she's usually just setting off cross country at an event!