Sophie & Leaventhorpe R Bill, from Thames Oak Shires – Equine Photography, Essex

I meet a lot of horses in my job and I can honestly say, I really, genuinely do love them all. I love that they are all totally different, with their own stories and their own characters. I love that some of them keep me on my toes, some of them make my life super easy, some of them are old and wise and some of them are young and cheeky! And then, every now and then, I meet a horse that I fall head over heels in love with. And last week, that happened, when I met Billy!!

‘Leaventhorpe R Bill’ is the six year old Premium Shire stallion standing at stud at Thames Oak Shires, which is a family run Shire stud based in Essex. And oh my goodness, you’re going to have to excuse my in-eloquence, because I’m going to struggle to put into words how impressive this horse is.

Thames Oak Shires is owned and run by Paul Bower and his two sons, James and Jonathan. I was invited to meet Billy by Sophie, who is James’s girlfriend and has a big part in looking after and showing the horses. When I arrived, Billy was stood quietly in a barn, watching the world go by and waiting for his moment in the limelight. The only way I can think to describe how I felt standing next to him was ‘humbled’. He was such a little lamb and was very keen to be friends, but he is just so strong and powerful, a huge wall of solid muscle, that I just felt so small and helpless. This humongous animal, with more power in one hair than I have in my entire body, was standing sweetly at the end of a rope, happily doing as he was told and wanting to be made a fuss of. He just really embodied, to me, how amazing it is that these incredible animals allow us to be their leaders.

“Everyone who sees him falls in love; he really is a horse you can’t take your eyes off,” Sophie says. And I can totally vouch for that.

This chap is a total credit to his stud, because although he was happy to show-off and pose like a super-star, he was also super respectful and perfectly mannered. He absolutely loved when we let him loose in his paddock and initiated a game of chase. He was like a playful (very large!) puppy. So, naturally, I fell even more in love with him.

Billy was purchased by the Bower family when he was just six months old, at an auction and has been at Thames Oak Shires ever since. The stud also has a lovely herd of Shire mares, which I enjoyed meeting and a very promising, very cute, yearling Shire colt, who is the son of Billy. And hopefully next year will see the expansion of the herd with the arrival of some more Shire foals.

Billy will be standing at stud with Thames Oak Shires for the 2016 season. I loved learning about the stud and their breeding programme and was fascinated to find out that Billy’s genes will compliment those of both light and heavy horses, so he welcomes girlfriends of all shapes and sizes.

If you’d be interested in purchasing an equine photoshoot gift voucher for somebody for Christmas, go to

If you would like any information about Billy’s services, or about the stud, you can get in touch with Thames Oak Shires on Facebook, or by contacting James, Jonathan or Paul Bower directly; their contact details can be found on their Facebook page at Thames Oak Shires.

And whilst you are there, please don’t forget to show your support to a lovely, family run stud, by ‘liking’ their page, to keep up to date with what the horses get up to and see more pictures of these incredible animals.


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