Category Archives: Horses

A foal is born

There was much sadness when I arrived at the farm. A much loved horse – somebody’s best friend – had died in the night. It seems an illness had suddenly taken hold of him, and there was nothing that could be done. It had been a long night, and the riders were subdued; the horses seemed tired and a little out of sorts.

They were going to ride anyway, they decided, despite feeling sad about the passing of their friend’s horse. The owner of the horse wanted it that way also, even though she wouldn’t be there.

And then … at about one o’clock … there was a new life …

Only one hour old

One horse had died unexpectedly, and another had made his appearance, equally unexpectedly. The owner had expected the mare to deliver on the weekend, and so the animal was out in the field with the other horses when the foal decided to make his entrance to the world. By the time they were both safely out of the sun and in the stable, both were pretty hungry and exhausted … you would be too if you had just delivered a baby this size, and with so many legs!

Some mother's milk, expressed, taken from the bottle

Being a photographer has certainly taken me places, and exposed me to so many amazing things. Seeing a newborn foal for the very first time again reminded me of how blessed I am to be able to view the world through a lens because, if it weren’t for my camera, I would not have been there in the first place.

Taking the pic: It was dark in the stable and, although the little chap looks fairly still in the photos, when he moved, it was sudden and quite fast. I had not tripod with me, and so camera shake would also have been an issue in that light. The light from the stable door was very bright, and so would have confused the camera’s TTL, creating an underexposed photograph of the foal. The dark stable, with the dark horses, on the other hand, would have confused the TTL again, and created an overexposed image. At high ISO, around 3200, and a shutter speed of 1/50th, a meter reading off the foal’s head gave me an aperture of f/4. I would have preferred a smaller aperture and a faster shutter speed, but we couldn’t be too picky in this situation. I’m just happy to have managed to get some shots!

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Pro-Horse Clinic: Riding with soul

I have always found any sport that involves an animal to be rather spurious. First of all, who is the athlete? It seems the one with the four legs is getting the short end of the deal in the partnership. And then when money is involved, it seems all the more likely that the animal is going to come off second best. If thousands of people are going to bet their hard-earned cash on a horse, in the hope of never again having to work a day in their lives, then there will, surely, be horse owners hoping to have the right horse on the track, even if it means injecting a substance or two, legal or otherwise, into the animal. And so it is that I have never really taken to horse riding. I feel too sorry for the horse, the horse senses I am clueless, and so does its very best – and usually with some success – to get me off its back.

Today, though, I learnt a few lessons about horses, their riders and a very different way of thinking about riding and training. Veronika Buhl, a light-as-a-feather sprite with a lilting voice and open, smiling face, who looks as if she should be flitting across a stage with the other sylphs, ran a Pro-Horse Clinic in Wellington.

There was no kicking, no shouting, no whipping … just the lightest touch. The rider guides the horse through a slight transfer of weight: just by dropping a shoulder or by looking in a direction. Veronika’s fingers barely touch the horse as she guides it into position.

These riders take time and effort to train and grow to know themselves, as well as their horses. They speak of a ‘journey’, rather than of training, and they are there to grow, rather than compete. There is no ego, only a passion for the animal and the activity of horseriding.

Veronika Buhl - http://www.prohorse.org

Shooting was challenging … phew! The clinic was conducted indoors, in a large grey building, on brown sand, with only a smidgen of diffused light straining to make its way through an opening along the top of the walls. High ISO (about 2500 to 3200) and a wide aperture (either f/4 or f/5.6, depending on the lens) helped me to get shutter speeds of about 1/80th to 1/250th. I was worried about the depth of field, especially with the 400 mm, but more concerned about motion blur, so my focus was on trying to achieve the fastest shutter speed that the available light would allow.

My reward was when the doors opened, and I could play with the light falling in from the bright summer’s day outside …

Photographers and artists get to see the light!

A good ear scratch can make a fellow go weak at the knees!

It's pure love

A rider very pleased with her and her friend's progress

First rider of the day ... she has invested three years in the Pro-Horse philosophy

I am still no expert, and I’ve not been convinced to saddle up yet, but I am very curious to see more of the work that these amazing people do.

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Filed under Events Photography, Horses