This week I had the pleasure of meeting Luci and her 13 year old ex-showjumper, Gatsby, who she has owned for two years.
Sadly, Gatsby is being retired this month after an old neck injury caught up with him. Luci wanted some photographs to remember their time together - he's her first horse and has opened up a whole new world and array of friendships to her. It was easy to see why she had fallen in love with him. The aim of the shoot to capture their relationship over the past couple of years, before he heads off to have a quieter life in retirement.
When I arrived, she was just bringing him in from the field. Whilst Luci gave him a good groom, we spent some time chatting about the handsome man and I got to find out a bit about what they've got up to in the last two years, and it's quite a story!
Luci purchased Gatsby two years ago, and before she got him, she didn't know how to ride. She'd had the odd sit on ponies as a child, and donkey rides at the beach - but despite this, she had fallen in love with Gatsby, all 17 hands of him. With the help of many people, including Paralympian Natasha Baker and her family, she quickly learnt the ropes, as to speak. Along the way came the various things you don't initially think about needing to learn when it comes to horses - everything that comes with the day to day life within the stables, the management, and daily care. Looking back she definitely agrees there probably was an easier introduction to horse ownership out there! But it was clear, that Gatsby and Luci were made for eachother. Every time Luci stepped out of sight, and then back in to his view, he let out a lovely nicker to greet her.
We began the shoot with some black background images, although Gats wasn't too sure what was going on, I still got a couple of shots! With a quick change in to her outfit for the shoot, it was time to head to our first location: a beautiful little lake behind the barns.
The shoot was timed to co-incide with the late morning shadows and impending cloud cover - I always prefer to work in the shaded areas or in overcast weather, than in direct sunlight for many reasons. And perfectly, as we began the shoot at our first location, the sun just dipped behind the clouds and stayed there until the very end, as I got in my car to leave - we couldn't have planned that better if we tried!
My worst nightmare came true during our shoot - my favourite camera stopped working! I tried all the things I could think of - removing batteries, changing cards, remounting the lense ... but nope, nothing was working! I always keep a spare camera in my bag, so I had a quick change of cameras whilst we walked to our next location. We carried on from where we left off, this time, on the driveway.
We both chatted away about the amazing things horses can do - from installing confidence in young people, to teaching adults leadership and team work skills, creating friendships and just generally giving a sense of happiness, fulfilment and freedom. Horses are more than just a pet for most of us, and Gatsby and Luci definitely optimised that.
Luci was really keen to get some photographs of Gatsby without any tack on, so we headed up the drive to a little paddock. She picked handfuls of grass for him, giving him plenty of kisses. I think he enjoyed this part of the shoot the most - the grass in the paddock was so luscious and tasty!
Gatsby will shortly be heading to join a heard of horses just 30 minutes away, close enough so that Luci can go and visit him several times a week, whilst he enjoys his retirement. Thank you so much for having me - it was lovely to meet you both, I thoroughly enjoyed my morning with you guys, and I hope these photographs can serve as a lovely reminder in the years to come.