This horse and owner session with Alena and her thoroughbred gelding Arthur is long overdue on my photography blog! I photographed the pair in December 2017 – and no, that’s not a typo, it really has been over a year.
It was such a unique experience for me to photograph Alena and her special horse because I have known her for a very long time – going on 17 years now. We met in secondary school in Germany but both ended up living abroad as I’m now here in Loughborough, Leicestershire and Alena lives in County Cork in the south of Ireland. We still manage to see each other about once a year on average though.
Alena has a gift: She meets horses that have had a difficult past with an endless amount of patience and kindness, but also courage and persistence. Arthur, too, was not an easy case when he first arrived at Lee Valley Equestrian Centre near Crookstown in Co. Cork. Despite the progress that he has made under Alena’s dedicated care, it eventually became clear that Arthur would not be suitable for the flexibility and changing routine of a school horse and fortunately Alena was able to buy him and keep him for herself.
It had been a while since my previous visit to Ireland, so I only knew Arthur from stories and the photoshoot was the first time I met him in person and it’s difficult to imagine him anywhere but by Alena’s side now. I know it sounds like a cheesy cliché, but the two have an incredible bond that appears as if it was meant to be.
As you can imagine, we were battling muddy ground during this December photoshoot and we were limited to locations around the yard. However, Lee Valley Equestrian Centre is spacious and we were not in want of variety in backdrops. My aim for the photoshoot was twofold: I wanted to create images that Alena would hang on her wall (e.g. portraits of Arthur and the sweet little moments between the two of them), but I also wanted to create a few portraits focussing on Alena, which I knew her mother would appreciate, too.
Since Arthur is not fussed by much, I also turned him into a model for my own purposes and had him wear two of my photography props: I find these cute little knitted hats for horses are the perfect splash of colour during the dark and gloomy winter season. I’ve had these shipped from Germany, and I’ll be looking to stock them in further colours for the next winter.