One of the things that I truly love most about photography, is that behind every single image is a story. Each person, animal, family, relationship, etc. that you see has it’s own tale to tell and that’s why I always love to share the stories of my clients with you. I love to give you a little insight into the people and horses you are looking at, tell you what they’ve been through together, how they’ve grown together and everything that makes them who they are. And Mily and Balou definitely have quite a story…
Balou is a fourteen year-old Norwegian Fjord pony who begun his life at a trekking centre in Belgium, before coming over to the UK.
When Mily purchased Balou, she didn’t have a great deal of riding experience. She had ridden at riding schools between the ages of eleven and sixteen, but hadn’t ridden since then when she tried Balou, when she was twenty-one, in 2009. However, she took a chance on him and bought him based on the fact that he was only small and didn’t move very fast. Lol!
For their first year together, Mily and Balou had lots of fun competing in cross country trials, showjumping, sponsored rides and more. Mily learned that Balou did, in fact, know how to shift pretty fast!
And then in 2010 Balou came in from the field lame and it turned out that he had damaged his suspensory ligament. He was put on box rest for a year, during which time he also suffered a bout of cellulitis and pain related colic. But once the year was up, Mily managed to get Balou out, wandering around the local bridleways on a long rein and said that, despite his time off, he was a total angel.
Just as Balou was back in full ridden work, he was struck by laminitis, in 2012, despite being on a strict, controlled diet. Once again, he recovered well and came back into work, only to suffer a freak accident in 2013, resulting in him tearing a hole in his ligament. Following platelet rich plasma drips and multiple scans, it was decided that Balou’s ridden career may have to come to an end.
At the beginning of this year it was Mily’s turn on the operating table, where she had two spinal operations to repair worn discs in her back. She was then told that she shouldn’t ride again, so at this point it was looking pretty certain that Mily and Balou had seen the end of their ridden days together.
However, at the end of July, after both Mily and Balou had two years off from riding, following medical advice for them both, Mily tacked Balou up and walked him around the paddock for ten minutes. Over the next month, Mily and Balou have increased their ridden work, slowly but surely, gradually including little bursts of trot and then just days before our photoshoot, Mily was trotting around the paddock with a friend on her larger horse, when Balou spontaneously broke into canter. When Mily described it to me, she said “It was the best feeling in the whole world!” So, that’s why the pictures of Mily and Balou having a little canter are pretty special. They aren’t just any horse and rider having a hoon about the field. They are a milestone for this pair. And it was a moment that brought Mily’s Mum to tears.
Mily and Balou are continuing to take things gently and Mily said she is completely listening to Balou to see how comfortable he is at every stage. I wish them both the very best for the future and I hope that things continue to go from strength to strength for them. Balou is such a little character. Mily says “He lives for food, thinks himself hilarious with the stunts he pulls and is the cheekiest pony I’ve ever met,” and is a very lucky little chap, to have an owner that would do absolutely anything for him. What a fabulous partnership!
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