Surfing Cowboys Polo Shoot with Black Colt
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting stunning 'Archerfield Farm' in Richmond, NSW for a stud shoot. My task was to capture some of the horses that comprised half of the Surfing Cowboys Polo breeding programme. Particularly the prized broodmares, their gorgeous progeny and stallion at stud. The other half of the ponies frolic about on the beaches of South Ballina, NSW in paradise. I've had the pleasure of photographing a few of them in the past, playing chukkas in the waves which looked truly stunning and incredibly fun for the initiated. Lucky ponies living the life! Many of the ponies go up to Ballina for training when they are ready to rock and roll and get shaped into competitors. These horses are world class and have temperaments and talent to die for. Several were recently ridden by Nacho Figueras at The Magic Millions Polo in Queensland, Australia and they rocked it. Nacho is ranked as the number one polo player in the world.
We had many horses to shoot, and the sun had a bite in it (nothing that two light beers couldn't fix at lunchtime). But as is often the case, I got lost in the beauty of the mares in foal, their babies at foot, happy dogs running around, including mine. Seeing the two mares and their foals frolic up and down the plane tree lined driveway until we had them lined up near the antique and rustic metal gates was magic. We were all winding down after a wonderful day, and the whole family was there, including the beloved dogs. Sunsets at Archerfield Farm are magnificent and this was one of those nights following a scorching day.
King of the stud...
I don't think there are many people who aren't moved by foals. Their skittish, playful behaviour, sleeping little bodies in the hot sun and their authentic curiosity about people is intoxicating. Particularly when raised with love and human interaction. Every shoot I walk away with a moment or memory burned into my psyche. There were several during this shoot. I loved how we danced around the prize stallion Ellerston Hermitage. Suitably unimpressed by the reflector, it was promptly removed. We didn't need it anyway as the sun was playing magical tricks dappling in and out of the shade as he, Nick and I moved around the beautiful paddock fringed with trees and shade. Nick valiantly tried to stay between us so I could maintain some distance to shoot him. As he walked out of the shade and into the bright sunlight, his coat resembled burnished copper. I loved his heightened energy and could see he had the "it" factor of a champion. Compact and beautifully conformed, his pedigree as a polo maestro is being passed on.
As the sun was setting Stevey and Axel cruised up to the paddock in the ute for feeding up and a hello to the foals. At eight months pregnant, calmly multitasking events, Surfing Cowboys, motherhood to a just toddler and still helping run the farm, Stevey is my new hero! Well Nick too. His breeding knowledge was exceptional and his love for the horses and progeny was palpable and reciprocated.
I think the killer moment we took home was of what came next. Axel interacting with a favourite and prized foal Forte. It was absolutely beautiful. Both were having a conversation and it was so gentle and sweet. Proof for the millionth time that horses can read us so exquisitely. And we them, if we're listening. The magic of a spectacular sunset and Stevey and Nick's 15 month old son relating so instinctively with a stunning and fascinated foal, ended a beautiful day.
Driving back to Sydney that night I was exhausted but thrilled. I wanted to share the emotion we all could feel and that the camera never fails to pick up. I love all horses. But some are really special, particularly with strategic breeding and raised with love and careful attention to detail.
I love my job. Thanks Stevie and Nick. Little Axel, what a cutie and set up to be a future horseman xx
Visit www.surfingcowboyspolo.com to learn more about these magnificent horses