I absolutely love photographing a horse and owner that have been a part of one another’s lives for many years and know each other inside out. I feel like it just adds a little something extra to their images, as their connection is just so evident in everything they do together.
That’s how I felt about Claire and Philly, who I visited last week at Claire’s in-law’s home, in Suffolk. Claire’s other-half, Scott, purchased a photoshoot gift voucher for her birthday, after she’d dropped many hints. Scott, their two boys, Xander and Freddy and very loyal dog, Buddy, (who followed Claire absolutely everywhere) also joined us for a couple of photographs.
Philly is a true golden-oldie, approaching thirty years-old, but definitely refusing to grow old any time soon. Claire has owned her for an amazing twenty-one years, after her Grandpa bought her for Claire’s fourteenth birthday.
Claire tells me that at first, the pair didn’t really click. Claire was just coming off of ponies and Philly was much bigger, much stronger and much more complicated to ride. However, when he 14hh pony suffered a hear attack out on the hunting field and passed away, Claire had no choice but to try and make things work with Philly.
Together, over the years, Claire and Philly competed in Pony Club teams, working hunter classes and eventually moved onto eventing. Philly’s strengths definitely leaned towards jumping, whereas dressage required far too much patience for her. But despite her short attention span, Claire and Philly represented East Anglia twice at the JRN champs, at Tweseldown and Weston Park.
Philly has also been on loan to other families, teaching youngsters how to ride, whilst Claire went to university. She has had a foal, she whipped in for the Waveney harriers for a couple of seasons and she has competed in veteran classes. Philly is the real-deal when it comes to being an ‘allrounder’.
Philly spent her latter years hacking out and then eventually retired in 2013, at age twenty-seven. However, after having what she had thought would be one last ride on her for our shoot, Claire is now wondering when Philly would enjoy being back in work. She had so much fun having a little canter around the field.
I absolutely adore seeing these veterans living such full, healthy lives and being loved so unconditionally. Claire says that Philly is such a fabulous advert for the musculoskeletal work that she does for a living (Equilibrium Massage) as she is entirely bute free and healthy at twenty-nine years old. How wonderful!
Thank you so much to Claire for being a great sport, to Scott for booking the shoot and cooking me a bacon sandwich, to Scott’s parents for the use of their beautiful home and to all of the helping hands on the day. What a lovely morning.
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