This is my daughter Catherine; she was 11 years old when this photo (left) was taken… fast forward a couple of years (right) and she is STILL a massive Zelda fan! So is my husband Mike, which is where the influence came from (I’m not really a video games sort of gal). They really enjoy Zelda and this inspired me for the shoot. I’ve been wanting to do something special like this for over a year and when I asked Catherine and Mike if they were up for it, I was delighted it was a big YES.
We drove out to Inch Beach in Co.Kerry, site of quite a few of my previous photo shoots. We have had some pretty awful weather, it’s been an even wetter Winter than previous years, so the first good day we had, we boxed up and headed out… along with everyone else in the Kingdom it would seem.
The beach was most crowded, more so than I’ve ever seen it before and just to add to it all, less than 30mins after we parked up we were joined by 4 more boxes full of hoses and carts too. Teddy hasn’t seen many carts so his anxiety levels shot up.
Why am I telling you this? Because this is an example of choosing your battles in training….
It’s all about knowing your horse’s limits , how to handle situations and most importantly do what is best for you horse. I took Teddy for a walk, allowed him to look at the carts to see they were not an impending doom. We did a little gentle groundwork, followed by some positive reinforcement focus work. Establishing a connection with our bodies by focusing on movement, coupled with feeling the floor gives a sense of grounding, at least in humans but I have also found in horses. In human studies, grounding or ‘earthing’ has been found to lower stress hormones, it would be interesting to know if it works for horses too. By taking things slowly at a gently pace, Teddy came back in to himself and his body language changed to lower stress signals, he blew out and then went back to munching hay. We waited until he was as calm as could be before Catherine got on board.
Once all the commotion had settled down, we realised we finally had a window to get shooting. So tacked up, costumed up and ready to try some different scenes we set off up the dunes. Sadly the sun was casting long shadows so they didn’t work. We headed back to the sea and despite the beach being busy, Teddy was relaxed enough to focus on me and the training. Most importantly Catherine had a smile on her face and quickly got in to character of Link, Teddy got to get his hooves wet and Mike was able to take some awesome images. Enjoy!
(Pictured: LightRider Bitless Noseband)
Once the photo shoot was finished, the plan was to go for a ride, but I think Teddy had had enough excitement, so after a drink and a snack, we put him back in the box and headed home.
Was I disappointed we didn’t get the beach ride? Yes sure I was, but I didn’t think that the ride I had in my mind was likely to happen that day. The carts were moving faster up and down the beach and they returned a few times, which triggered Teddy again. I had already gained Teddy’s trust once and he had relaxed, but to keep putting him in more stressful situations when he had already been triggered more than once? It wasn’t worth loosing what I had already won.
Training as in life, is knowing the battles to choose and those to walk away from, of that we can be mindful.
With thanks to Lightrider Bitless Bridles for sending us out their western nose band for us to trial and review.
You’ll find the review of this bridle in the next edition of Barefoot Horse Magazine.
If you have any inspired ideas for a photoshoot in 2020 please let us know, e-mail [email protected]