I was contacted last year by Emma, a horse owner, who knew her beautiful lifelong horse was going to have to be put to sleep. This was a really difficult shoot for me, not because I did hair and make up or took images, but because I know how the love of a horse can change a person to their core, I know what the love of a horse feels like, I also know how brave Emma is for having to make such a heartbreaking decision for such a large animal, and fundamentally, what that meant to her.
So when we set a date, and Angel went lame, I didn't know whether I'd ever get to meet Angel and do the shoot but not so long ago, Emma messaged me reaching out to me again, asking for her shoot. I try not to take too much on during wedding season but I knew this was something that I needed to do and be involved in, the therapist in me screaming that I could help give something to the both of them that maybe couldn't be given by a 'normal' photographer.
Those that know me know that I work a lot with emotion, in fact, at every single emotional day, be it wedding, horse or baby, I cry. I do, I say goodbye and all the emotion I've felt during the shoot while I've been working will seep out - I try not to, sometimes I can hold on, oftentimes I can't and I make no apologies for it; I do what I do to the best of my ability and I give my all at every single shoot. I feel emotion, I shoot emotion, I do emotion - I've spend too many years of my life trying not to feel that now I make no apology for feeling it.
So with Angel's last days here with Emma, I drove my car full of camera equipment, feeling a bit nervous because I know Emma will have been feeling it too. I was on high-alert for emotion, knowing it will be high and how emotions can affect horses. Angel handled all the emotion in her stride as her 20 years had shown her - a calm loving natured horse, full of love of grass and spending time cuddling with her Mum.
I heard about all the lovely stories of Angel and Emma, growing up together, the times especially when Angel had stood and been on 'guard' duty when Emma had fallen off due to a jump in the countryside they'd gone for and Emma had been knocked unconscious and how Angel stood by and grazed waiting patiently for Emma to come around.
Possibly the hardest thing for everybody is how well Angel looks - but being on so many painkillers and being in constant pain is no life for any horse; a tough decision taken over a period of many many months with lots of vet visits and so much pain - a really tough job for any horse owner but ultimately a decision made from a place of absolute love.
When I heard news on Facebook that Angel had been taken to the rainbows, I pulled out all stops and edited 400+ images, mainly due to the absolute patience of Emma and Angel on the day to just take time to love each other and spend time in my company.
I'll never forget the time I got to spend with two kindred spirits, so united in their love for each other - RIP Angel, may you be running in the wind with the shore of the sea by your feet. You'll never be forgotten by your Soul Mate.
Thank you Emma for allowing me to share your story - such a brave lady - a heart the size of a lion.
I'll never ever forget our shoot and having the honour of being part of your everlasting memories.
This is what Emma wrote about her beautiful horse:
Needless to say I cried in the carpark and all at the way home but i love my job - I believe everybody should have images that will last a lifetime and will reflect emotion and the connection we have with others.
I know Angel will be running free over Rainbow Bridge with all the other horse, pain free, you've set her free. A very difficult decision but one ultimately made out of absolute love and a place of unselfishness and a desire to set free what we may otherwise hold onto. You have my heart.
Big Hugs Emma x