I have known for many years how obsessed my niece, Andy, is with horses and I asked her if I could go along to where she worked to take some shots. I realised the Sydney Trail Riding Centre was not going to be anything like stables I had encountered in England. For a start it was just a little bit bigger than I was used to. In fact it was a LOT bigger than I could have imagined. It covers 500 acres!!! The style of riding is different too. They practice ‘Western’ riding as opposed to ‘English’ riding which isn’t a geographical thing but a style which has evolved from ranching whereby the horse can be controlled with one hand whilst the rider would often use a lasso. When I first started to photograph animals I always wanted the shots to be as natural as possible. I have never wanted to photograph horses and riders whereby the rider is standing next to the horse wearing a little hard hat, holding the reins and smiling at the camera. Looking after a horse is not like looking after a dog or a Guinea pig; it takes commitment, hard work and a love of shovelling poo!!
I was very lucky to be able to spend a couple of hours photographing Andy and the horses. It looks an idyllic life; roaming the range on the back of a horse, having hundreds of acres to ride in and, of course, fantastic weather. However, I know how much time and effort puts into a job she loves. She told me that at the end of the day the horses are washed down and then taken down a road and into what looked to me like a small English county!! The horses gallop down a road, through a wooded area and run free into a massive……..well, field doesn’t do it justice. She took her Mum, cousin and me to a high point overlooking where she said we could see the horses break through the wooded area far below us en masse and then went back to get them. Colette and Conor stood about 15 metres behind me as we waited to hear the beeping of the pick up truck’s horn which would herald the arrival of the horses below us at the bottom of the hill. Eventually we heard the horn and I trained my long lens on the edge of the wood. Suddenly Colette screamed “F**king hell, they’re here!!!” (or words to that effect, lol) and I turned to my right to see horses come thundering through the top end of the woods close to us. Within a split second Colette and Conor were millimetres away from my back as forty horses came charging towards us. Looking back now it was hilarious 🙂 🙂 At the time I was frantically trying to photograph the stampede and kept thinking ‘that white horse is homing in on me’, lol. It was an unbelievable sight as the horses ran freely onto the grassland. It was an amazing experience and yet another from my trip that will stay with me for ever. Thanks Andy for a truly wonderful day out. xx
You can see a slideshow of the images by clicking HERE