Some of you may recognise the three lovely ladies in this shoot: There's Jane, her daughter Lauren and their skewbald mare, Jigsaw. I first met them back in 2015 after Lauren had organised a shoot for herself and her Mum, as a Mothers Day gift. So, after receiving a message this year, inviting me back to photograph them all again, plus their new addition: a Connemara called Oakley. I was very excited! It's always an honour to be invited back to photograph clients again, and it's a pleasure, when they're as lovely as Lauren and Jane!
I'd left a little earlier than I probably needed too, thinking that it was a Bank Holiday Monday, and I had to drive through town because of some road closures, I was worried I might get a little delayed, but in fact, everyone else was probably still fast asleep - the roads were totally empty!
So, when I arrived on the yard, Jane had just nipped back home to get her fringe cut and to grab some boots for Lauren. Lauren was just giving the ponies a final brush over. The night before they'd been scrubbed and were sparkling clean. There were just a few small stains from the overnight to touch up before they were ready to go! Jig was stood munching her hay quietly, whilst Oakley played with his Likit Toy hanging up just outside his stable.
I took the time to catch up with Lauren, and of course, Oakley! They've owned him for just over a year but during this time they've had a bit of a hard time with various problems, so he's had a bit of time off. Poor Lauren had to have her appendix taken out, and Oakley ended up with a swollen leg from lymphangitis, so he too had to have some time off. With that behind him, he's now slowly being brought back in to work. Lauren is in her last year of her A-Levels, so she'll have lots of time over the summer to spend time with him!
"I love both of my horses cheekiness and how loving they are. They never ever fail to make us laugh - especially Oakley as he always pulls funny faces and tries to eat everything much like a goat! Jigsaw is always so dependable and gives anyone confidence. I wouldn't change either of them for the world!" Lauren told me in an email - I had to laugh at the bit about Oakley being a goat! He did pull some funny faces for us, and I even caught him with his tongue out in several photos!
The shoot began with some black background pictures of each pony. Jigsaw is a total pro at modelling and puts her ears forward straight away. I had my little squeaky octopus with me, which worked a treat. Oakley took a little more persuading, but we got there in the end!
Poor Jane was having a bit of a nightmare with Oakley's bridle - it had been cleaned the night before and whilst she put it on him, she couldn't quite work out why it didn't look right! Problem diverted once it was taken apart and put together - we were ready to go!
Being young, Oakley wasn't the easiest to move around on the ground, especially after his time off and being poked and prodded by vets and physios over the last few months. So we stuck close to the yard and the areas that he was used too, as not to stress him out. Across from the yard gates was a small opening to a field. The poor horses had to cope with plenty of distractions as a sit-on lawn mower went up and down the road, and a man with a strimmer was cutting the verges. It wasn't quite the peaceful start to the morning we'd all envisaged, but once they'd had a good look, they were fine.
Despite Oakley wanting to have a good munch on the long grass, we got several lovely shots of them all together! Lauren and Jane kept saying how they remembered during their last shoot that Jig kept wanting to snatch the grass and they felt the whole time that they were having to pull her about, but they were amazed at how relaxed and laid back everyone looked in the photographs. Oakley was popped back in his stable for a little while, so we could focus on Jigsaw.
Jane's husband is in the RAF, and at the time, they were living in Yorkshire, when they met Jigsaw. Lauren had helped out riding Jigsaw for her previous owners when they were away - they had asked the previous owners if they ever had to sell her, they'd love to have the chance to buy her. Just a few months later, after moving down south, Jane had a message to say that a change in family circumstances meant that Jigsaw would be up for sale. Lauren had known that Jigsaw was going to become theirs, but it was organised as a bit of a surprise! One morning, Jane had asked for Lauren to help on the yard, not knowing that Jigsaw would be in the stable! After not noticing her at first, she was prompted to have a look in one of the stables. What an amazing surprise, and it was all caught on camera with lots of tears and hugs!
The majority of the shoot three years ago was spent on the common just a short walk from the yard, so this time we headed up around the quiet country lanes, in search of pretty locations for photographs. Jigsaw was a foot-perfect model for us! Our bad luck with traffic seemed to hit us all at once - there was a pretty brick wall and archway on one of the lanes, with only 5 or 6 houses, we thought it would be relatively quiet, especially on a Monday morning! There were several cars going up and down, so we moved to the side for them. Followed by a Taxi driver who was clearly lost, as he passed us several times! But, we got the shots we wanted, and then headed back to the yard.
It was so lovely to catch up with Lauren and Jane, and hearing all about what they'd been up to with the ponies during the time since I last saw them!
Oakley's turn was next - despite him being a little hesitant, the bribery of big handfuls of Cow Parsley from the road edge, soon got him to change his mind! I just loved how Lauren's red top complimented his dark dappled coat. She'd been saying he's changed colour so much in just a year! She had always wanted a bay, but Jane wasn't sure she wanted a horse with white legs again (although I do love Jigsaw's long white stockings, I imagine they're hard work to keep clean!) so it looks like they might be getting the best of both worlds as his dapples begin to change over the next few years! He was born almost a red-roan colour, and patches of this are still evident on his face and sides.
We finished up the shoot just outside Oakley's field - I walked ahead and crouched down in the grass, in the hope that he'd gallop off when he was turned out. But, instead, he spotted me and came trotting over. He looked very pretty, but it's not quite what we had in mind! He then proceeded to follow Jane around the field, trying to grab hold of the squeaky octopus!
Thank you so much for having me again! It honestly is the greatest compliment to be invited back, and of course, it was lovely to catch up with you all! I hope you love the photographs!