I was both honoured and heart broken to be able to photograph this beautiful pair. It’d be easy to look at these images, notice Fenella’s adoring smile, a stunning location, Impy’s gleaming chestnut coat and just see a mutual love between horse and owner. But Fenella contacted me at the beginning of last week with a message that instantly tugged at my heart strings and had me shuffling my appointments around to accommodate her time sensitive request.
Her handsome eventer and ex-racehorse, Impy, had torn his hind suspensory ligaments in all 3 areas on both hind legs and Fenella had made the devastating decision, after six years together, to have him put to sleep.
As horse owners, it’s the thing we dread the most, right? We assume the right to watch our horses grow old, or to at least be able to make the decision to move them on, to a home we think is right for them, when we feel it’s necessary. So, when Fenella told me that the horse in front of me, who appeared full of life, nudging me for attention and the picture of health, was just nine years old, the weight of their situation really sat heavily on me. Added to this, Fenella also had to have a young horse put to sleep due to kissing spines, so it’s fair to say that fortune has not been kind to her.
We took Impy to Fenella’s boyfriend’s home on Friday evening, which she thought would make a suitable backdrop for their images. And what a stunning place, to document their final memories together. Impy was very excited to be out and about, strutting his stuff and posing in front of my camera. Clearly nobody had notified him of the fact that he was broken.
Everybody held it together for the duration of the shoot, but I have to admit, I did get a little choked up as I drove away. I’m lucky enough that I’ve never been in the situation that Fenella is in right now. But as a horse lover, I was just overwhelmed with empathy for her. It was such an honour to spend time with this pair, and I feel truly humbled to be able to offer Fenella these pictures as a reminder of the relationship they shared. I know that she struggled with her decision, having seen him all plaited up, looking and acting every inch the happy, healthy boy she had loved and competed for six years, so I hope that having these images helps in some small way, and gives her something to hold on to. Lots of love to you, Fenella. xxx
P.S. I’m sorry for any tears that this post may have induced. Now all go and give your horses an extra hug!