A few months ago I had a very lovely conversation with Alan, a man clearly wanting to give the girl in his life, Polly, a present he knew she’d love… pictures of her beloved Thoroughbred heartthrob, Archie. We hatched a plan together, he presented the gift and then this summer I got to meet Polly, her bouncy dog Danny, her parents, and this wonderful equine best friend of hers…

Polly lives on the edge of Dartmoor. I love Dartmoor too and having lived not far from it myself and explored the various herds of hill ponies up there for a few years I was thrilled when Polly requested her shoot to be in this ever changing, invigorating landscape. A place where you can rely on the scenery to be dramatic and the weather to be unpredictable…

Born 16 years ago near Bodmin, Archie had a couple of owners before arriving in Polly’s life as a 5 year old. Polly is still in contact with the breeder and the lady she bought him from and they regularly find out how he’s getting on. Isn’t that heartwarming to hear that people do still care about the horses that have passed through their hands, very comforting to know.

It sounds like the next 11 years have been really good ones as Polly and Archie learnt to be in each other’s lives. Loading was initially a real ordeal for them both until one day with the help of a friend Archie had a real lightbulb moment and hasn’t looked back. In fact on the day I met them he loaded himself into the trailer on the side of the road and stood happily loose as Polly and I chatted outside. Trust reaping rewards once more in life.

Polly qualified as a Vet in 2017 and during the arduous 5 years of training at the University of Liverpool she had Archie with her. To undertake such a career with the enormous amount of time away from home and studying to gain your qualification is a huge step for anyone. To do it with your horse with you and still take care of their needs just shows the level of relationship these two have together. They spent many hours travelling back and forth from home in Devon to Uni too, so it’s a flipping good job they got over their loading issue too!

Dressage is their love and although they’ve never really had the chance to seriously compete they’ve done well. Sadly though Archie suffered quite a nasty hock injury a while back and they both had to endure 10 months of box-rest. Polly honestly thought his competition days were over but I’m delighted to say this isn’t the case and they are back and competing at Elementary level.

The training and understanding that has gone into this relationship in the past 11 years is very clear to see. I can’t tell you how bowled over I was by the mere fact Polly would simply say the word ‘Square’ to Archie each time we relocated in the little patch of heaven Polly had chosen and he’d easily adjust each leg and foot until he was square. He basically and very politely halted at X perfectly each time.

Well, I couldn’t do anything other than award a perfect 10 for that manoeuvre now could I!

Sadly Alan wasn’t at our shoot, last minute work demands pulled him away from the session but I had a lovely time chatting to Polly’s parents and meeting their Norfolk cross terrier Darcy, and Danny, Polly’s own rescue dog. Yet another animal devoted to his mummy. Now there’s a dog with lots of character who took centre-stage a few times and had me in fits of giggles as he sprawled over the moorland rolling and squirming around. Archie was completely unfazed by his antics, in fact if he could have rolled his eyes to the sky I’m pretty sure he would have done!

All too soon our session was over and it was time to leave Dartmoor behind once more and head back to Somerset where I’ll be readily keeping an eye on the dressage results for Polly & Archie’s name…

Have a fabulous day!

Rachel x


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