I’ve known Belinda and her family for about 18 months now, slowly getting to know them whilst I was living in Devon and seeing them in both horsey and non horsey environments. Wherever I saw them they were usually smiling and laughing about something and I always knew that we wouldn’t lose touch once I moved as they are the kind of people who make a real impact in your life. So when the call came earlier in the summer to book me for a equine photo shoot I knew that this was going to be a bit different… and I wasn’t wrong.
Situated on the edge of Dartmoor, the family live in a converted railway station that oozes with character, charm and, no doubt, a whole lot of family memories. When Belinda got in touch she had a very clear image in her head of a country based image she’d love to have of her 21 year old daughter, Amber and 18 year old son Scott. The rest, she said, was up to me.
Essentially though, we needed guns, tweed, fur and ponies to make the shoot work.
Well, what could I say!
With Dartmoor as a back drop to their quirky property that’s surrounded by fabulous trees, I was really looking forward to the chance of doing something a little different too when the opportunity arose. Where do I sign I inwardly screamed at the time!
Amber has been riding since before she can really remember, but I’m told that from 3 years old she was a regular in the show ring in British Show Pony Society classes. Firstly with Belinda in Lead Rein, going through then to First Ridden classes and then age/height classes. She was pretty flipping successful too and was always placed at the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead. Thats a seriously impressive accomplishment, but those days are gone and these days you’ll find Amber happily trail hunting each winter having left the show ring behind many moons ago.
Scott is a huge shooting fan and has enjoyed game shooting on probably as many occasions as Amber has been in the show ring. Well, maybe not quite, but I’m certain it won’t be long before he can claim that! I’m pretty sure he had one eye on the sky for most of the time we were out in the paddocks but I’m glad to say he stuck to the plan and just laughed and poked fun at his sister for most of the time! Although his sky scanning was actually, thankfully, pointless given there wasn’t an actual gun cartridge in sight… I’m told that Scott sits beautifully on a horse but he’s just not that interested in riding really. He is, however, used to handling the horses and that was pretty clear during our shoot.
The banter between these two was brilliant, they bounced off each other constantly but it was all very playful and very obvious that they are actually close as brother and sister. Even the looks they gave each other at times spoke a million words. Two of the family’s four dogs flew into the paddock and joined us, all hell broke loose for a while and it’s fair to say that 4 year old terrier Rupert (as seen in one of the pictures above) knows how to steal the show, but little Gladys wasn’t far behind in wanting the limelight!
The whole family know how to live life, there’s always a relaxed approach to life and the bar in the garden gets used frequently. The banter between Amber and Scott isn’t exclusive to those two either, Belinda is a proper joker. She’s a paramedic by trade and let me say if I was in a pickle I’d hope that someone like her would come to my rescue. Outside of work there’s no difference to her giving nature and she’s constantly looking after those that find their way into her life and despite the fact she’d had major surgery herself just a few weeks before she was doing what she could (under the supervision of friends) to provide all of us with whatever we needed before the shoot started and then supplied THE most incredible lunch afterwards.
Seriously, when a photo shoot includes fizz and cheese I would go to the end of the world to get involved!
When we moved onto Amber’s ponies you could see the pride in her face. 13 year old Irish Sporthorse Ruby, her 16.1 skewbald mare, has a real swagger about her. Amber has had her for a few years now and they have a strong relationship, thanks in part to the way Amber handles her through some natural horsemanship skills. At a squidgy under 15hh, 14 year old Tic Tac (or Nibbles to those that know him) responds to her in the same calm way. Each time I asked for a foot to move slightly, the horses did as was asked from Amber with barely a touch and no grumpy tail flicks. It was so lovely to see them both respond to her, without losing their individual characters. I laughed a lot at Tic Tac, he looked mostly thoroughly bored throughout the whole time but didn’t put a foot wrong, but then had the time of his life when we let them both loose for some fun. After each spin round one of the paddocks he’d return to Amber for a quiet moment and a cuddle before flying off again.
Belinda has had horses for a very long time and within the group of family horses is her ex Eventer, who at around 30 looks incredibly well out at grass in his retirement, only his dippy back giving any indication of his true age. There’s also the seriously cute Taffy who is playing first pony to some of the smaller members of the extended family. Fluffy Archie (‘the bold’), is their young project pony who belongs to friend of the family Sorrel. He’s been brought in to take over from Taffy as each little pair of family legs gets longer. Basically, it’s a proper Russian Doll of equines of all sizes ready to accommodate the younger members of this family.
Have a fabulous week!
If you’d like your own personal equine photo shoot, then please do contact me here to chat about your options more…