Monthly Archives: January 2012
It’s midnight and I’m still ‘packing’ – an art I may never master. I am currently envious of all business class passengers who are allowed multiple bags and many more kilos.
I am all but ready to go with a full and tremendously exciting month ahead in Dubai. Prints, cameras, smart gear, casual gear, appropriate dress, shoes for all occasions, hats, sunglasses, chargers, books, books, books…can’t believe I’m having to sacrifice additional pairs of shoes for books. Admittedly it’s a very exciting book that this time a year ago I was packing in order to venture off and photograph for, but still…it’s HEAVY!
We have been having a hilarious evening with cousins in West London hopping on and off the weighing scales as we pull out things from the suitcases, switching between bags, jiggling hand luggage whilst second-guessing whether check in staff will allow us that extra roll of prints…that extra heavy camera bag… Having said all this, I had learned the art of making my hand luggage appear light, with brow-lined pearls of sweat appearing through the strain of trying to maintain a cool, calm appearance, and I very much hope that I have not lost my touch.
Fingers crossed I don’t have to start overhauling at check in. Which is in 7 hours so it’s definitely time for bed. A 7 hour flight will fill tomorrow’s ‘day’ and I cannot wait. 7 hours relaxing at 30,000 ft. Bliss.
August 2010 – April 2011 was a wild global adventure, and here I have tried to provide a visual summary representing diversity, challenges, highs and lows. It’s a patchy presentation for there is much missed, but I hope it leaves you wanting to see more.
AUGUST 2010; France – UK
Dolores, with Favori the Lipizzaner, Haras du Pin, Normandy, France
Playing with a collection of young Trotteur Francais, Normandy, France whilst my father (aka interpreter/chauffeur/travel companion) chatted to our hosts, expanding his French vocabulary to include words such as “stallion” and “gelding”.
SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER 2010; Spain – Portugal – Spain – France
Alter do Chao, Portugal – I escape with Coronel, Alter Real stallion. Worth many, many Euros, I am not quite brave enough to ask to hop on. I haven’t quite cracked the Portugeuse sense of humour so settle for heading off on safari with the lads there in search of the elusive Sorraia breed.
Having a week on the road in Spain and Portugal visiting beautiful farms with beautiful horses. At the beginning of my global trek, things were looking up as I traversed the countries with an old friend. Thelma and Louise style.
Yeguada de Tomas Osborne, Spain; you should have seen how nervous the trainer was when I asked to mount his invaluable stallion! But how could I not? It’s totally tantalising meeting such beautiful creatures and not getting a go. Part of the job description, I believe.
Photographing in the Camargue. I reach the wilderness and flat of the Southern coast of France, after a long train journey across Spain. I meet the young man who is here to assist me, Steve. Who, incidentally, I am now marrying this September. There is something magical about this region, and finding the horses at dawn in the mist was just an added bonus to this leg of the trip.
The white horses of the Camargue at dawn. The mosquitoes were hell but the mist was magical and the weather could not have been more perfect for shooting. Sun, early morning mist, cobwebs covered with dew.
SEPTEMBER – NOVEMBER 2010; USA (Washington – Maryland – Virginia – North Carolina – Kentucky – Tennessee – Florida – New Mexico)
The Banker Horse, North Carolina. Early days on my USA trip take me from Washington DC – North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland. The Island of Chincoteague & Assateague and down to Kittyhawk. The weather is pleasant, I have a hire car, I’m on the road alone, and loving every minute of the adventure.
The World Equestrian Games, Kentucky – I was groupy to a bunch of Icelandic friends, whose daily demonstrations at the Games provided me the perfect opporunity to hang out with horses and friends, and focus on finding other breeds at the illustrious Games.
This day was memorable. I left the WEG and headed off into the hills of Kentucky. Admittedly I was a little nervous heading into the unknown, to an unknown place that only me and my TomTom knew about, but I arrived and was welcomed and spent an afternoon in the glorious sunshine playing with the wonderful Curlies.
New Mexico – reconnecting with equine photographer Tony Stromberg on the jaw-droppingly beautiful San Cristobal ranch in New Mexico, was a few days of pleasure, laughter and adventure. The weather was dark and and stormy but we got some good footage. Bumbling along in 4WD’s across vast Cowboy and Indian country was just adding to my over-stimulated adventures. But it was all moving too fast!
At the racetrack, Miami. The Americans were so welcoming to me, and even popped me inside the hummer which acts as the moving start-gate. Adrenaline pumped and I felt so very lucky to be up close and personal like that.
NOVEMBER – DECEMBER 2010; Dubai – India
Photographing early morning training in Dubai. Getting up at 4am is tough, but when the day promises sunshine and glorious blue skies with diverse backdrops such as the towering skyscrapers, there were no complaints.
India’s Punjab region where we spent magical time photographing and riding the Marwari horse amongst orange groves, drinking copious amounts of hot, sweet chai and being very well looked after! India was a challenge in some ways, but the slower pace of the country was advantageous in that it made me breathe, made me slow down. I thank it for that.
View from my room in Assam, Northern India – across the river and paddy fields beyond to the hills of Nagaland, the foothills of the Himalayas. More tea, galloping through the river and early morning photoshoots made this a serious contender for my favourite location throughout the entire trip.
JANUARY 2011; Australia – China – Mongolia
Yet again I recruit a willing assistant – I found my brother lurking in Sydney at the same time of my trip, and so recruited him on an Arabian shoot. He marvelled at the stallions. Impressive, that they were.
This is Australia, and it will not stop raining. This was another one of those magical moments when I plug an address into the TomTom and see where we end up. Long, long drives and bumpy tracks, slight nerves that we are going the wrong way, but faith in the GPS. We arrive high in the hills somewhere in between Sydney and Melbourne. We took shelter as the rains persisted but eventually realised we just had to go for it. McGuire the beautiful Irish Sports Horse performed well under pressure, and we got some incredible shots. This image I actually love, even though my entire lens was drenched, as was I.
Me and my young entourage! A day photographing the Australian Stock horses doing everything from liberty to polocrosse and stock work. We were lucky with the rain, which held off, but it was pretty dismal and grey sadly. But, it’s January and warm, so no complaints from me.
On the trail…. high in Kosciusko National Park we track the wild brumby. We had slept in the car at the foot of the trail of Dead Horse Gap, and ventured up at the crack of dawn. We were lucky and found a small herd of grazing brumbies that allowed us a good while photographing and creeping closer before they took flight.
Welcome to China! 2 days in Shanghai and a sleeper train to Beijing saw us connect with the other half of Team SubZero as we nicknamed ourselves. Tamsin, the author of the book, and her partner Chris, Robin and I were ready to go ‘sub zero’.
Travelling from Beijing – Ulaanbaatar on the Trans-Mongolian Express. A massive highlight. 33 hours of down time, warmth, recuperation, stunning landscapes and time to reflect on what has been and what is to come.
Team SubZero in Hustai National Park, Mongolia. My kit was incredible at -35 degrees, although I nearly lost a few fingers and toes. You get out of the vehicles and see the horses and begin creeping cautiously in their direction. They’re not stupid and they know you’re there, although they are not predated and therefore not overly fearful. They are, by their very nature, flighty, so we could not get that close, but we got close enough. But you become so focused on being still and getting closer that you forget about the cold, until suddenly you realise there is no feeling in your toes and everyone else is already back in the vehicle.
Traditional Eagle Hunter in Olgii – far Western Mongolian province bordering Kazakhstan, with a nearly 90% Kazakh population. This gentleman demonstrated his work, invited us into his home, and communicated using facial expressions and smiles, and intermittently through our interpreter.
White Moon – New Year, celebrated in a traditional Mongolian way, high in the remote Altai mountains, with nothing for miles and miles. This gracious Mongolian family invited us in, to share the festivities on this special day. They were ‘neighbours’ (up the slope, around the mountain and yonder) to the Eagle Hunter, who invited us to join him whilst he visited his friends and be warm, drink vodka, eat homemade delicacies.
Travelling in style. Old school Russian jeep, complete with carpeted seats and broken heating system, was our preferred (only) option for transport out to remote regions in the hills. Bumbling along at dawn, we got to witness, much to the amazement of our non-English speaking driver and guide, 7 white wolves running in the distance. This vision, on White Moon, is a very lucky thing indeed. We are all feeling positive, even after a short breakdown on the journey into the wilderness.
Kazakhstan was an adventure. Flying into Almaty from Olgii (ie getting OUT of Mongolia), was a challenge. Incomplete tickets had been given to us which SCAT airlines did not like. Lack of Russian language skills meant we relied on our taxi driver to help get us out. The mayhem of the airport at Olgii and the severely overweight baggage led to us virtually paying our way out. Not one of our finest moments but we were four, and that was safe(r). Out we got and we had a warm welcome in Kazakhstan. It was milder than Mongolia, but still cold and icy, and we were taken out to various farms and locations and introduced to a variety of different horses and breeds. And to kumis, a local delicacy – fermented mare’s milk. Fizzy putrid milk. Ewww.
MARCH – APRIL 2011; THE FINAL PUSH (UK – France – Italy – Austria – Germany – Holland – Norway – Finland – Russia)
The only subjects that actually chased US! Shetlands. So cute, but not to be judged by their size. This was Wales, and this was WET. More wet. I seem to attract the rain and mud.
The rare and incredible Boulonnais were a treasure to find. Back on the road with my father and Tamsin, we crossed the channel on the chunnel and found ourselves amongst a farmer and his lovely humble family. My father, with his fluency and ever-increasing French equine vocabulary, enjoyed learning about the history of this breed and about it’s role within the farmer’s life. They shared port and cheese with us over an ancient old farmhouse table and we all shared smiles and mutual affection for these gracious beasts.
The Dolomites – back in the mountains felt good but my weariness was beginning to show and I got lumbered with a cold.Full on snottiness did not stop me…and I even got the chance to ride into the hills on a beautiful Haflinger.
View from our hotel room in Moscow; we awoke each morning to the distinctive sound of clip clopping around the track. Confidence was what that noise gave me, that we were nearly complete on the global mission, and that the final hurdle – the largest one it would seem – is all but passed.
An Akhal Teke gets playful in the snow on a farm 100kms from Moscow. This is currently my iPhone screensaver! I love it. Dancing in the snow with a spring in his step, spring on its way.
The Hackney horse – this is Ted, and he was divine. Everyone fell for Ted. This was my penultimate shoot. And just when I think I’ve done enough, seen enough, photographed enough, I meet something as incredible as Ted and I’m inspired, all over again.
I am exhausted just running back through all of this. More will come, over time…