Saying goodbye is never easy; but when you know that the moment to say farewell to a very special part of your life is right, it's harder still.
The beautiful Ballynoe Hallo (or Poppy to everyone who knows her) has been part of Lucy's world for the last six years. Having had a series of lovely but sometimes cheeky ponies for many years, buying Poppy was a big decision to take the step up to riding a horse. She was just five years old and had been bred to event, and didn't she know it. At 15.2hh, Poppy is a very striking coloured mare who just wanted to be loved - and loved she has been.
Within a year, Poppy and Lucy were competing in between GCSE exams and Lucy's mother borrowing her to do the odd dressage competition and there was plenty of successes. Then disaster struck as Poppy was out at grass. Possibly sky larking but more probably playing with another friend she injured her knee and spent several months confined to box rest.
For many horses this would have a been more than a small challenge, but Poppy being Poppy, she just enjoyed Lucy's regular visits and while Lucy off loaded anything from school frustrations to all the good news she could share, Poppy took it all in and so a lasting relationship was formed. Once back in work, Poppy's desire to please grew, although not without a sense of humour, keeping everyone on their toes.
I was asked to capture the relationship between horse and owner. It wasn't difficult to see the unwritten bond between them and where many a horse might have run riot in several hundred acres of parkland, these acres have been home for Poppy, so she was (ignore being set upon by flies) remarkably chilled. Bearing in mind that this was the day before Poppy was to leave for pastures new, but not unknown, emotions were running quite high, but irrespective, she was such a star, always ready with ears forward, particularly if a blade of the ever present grass might have been offered as a bribe.
I could have gone on taking photographs for many more hours!
While this particular chapter has ended, the relationship continues from a distance. Poppy is currently being ridden and competed by Annie Hunter Blair of AW Equestrian up in Hereford and what a partnership they have become. Annie taught Lucy for many years, but when she started competed Poppy, the realisation of what this little mare is capable of had to be seen to be believe. On her first unaffiliated BD outing, she only went and won both Novice classes. On their next dressage outing, the won again with 86% in the Novice and 72% in Poppy's first ever elementary test - all within a month of arriving at Annie's yard. An easy decision taken to start competing in Affiliated tests and the pair just upped their game to win their Elementary test and come second in the Novice. Next stop, Area Festival Qualifier - and yes, they did it again, 2nd in a long arena Elementary! There's much more to come from this special little mare and we can all enjoy watching her.