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When I became an equine photographer

It was 4 months after Eliza was born that I established myself officially as a photographer of horses. In May 2016 we welcomed Eliza into the world and had two weeks of enjoying life as our new little family unit. After that, everything got turned upside down, when my left leg swelled up and I couldn’t walk on it. It was a weekend stay in hospital over the bank holiday before I was sent home on blood thinners. 

Less than a week later, I was re-admitted to the hospital because it had got worse. To cut a long and stressful tale short, the blood thinners didn’t work. After multiple blood tests and scans, I was hooked up to a drip for 72 hours to try and break up the clot, which was now from my groin to my ankle. There were a lot of painkillers for those few weeks, and the muscle wastage was crazy. I spent a couple of months recuperating at home and having to re-learn to walk properly. It was here that I realised life really is short.

I knew what I wanted to do, and made the decision that once I was able to, I’d be out photographing horses with their people, doing what I love best! On October 1st 2016 I was ready, and launched Laura Fiddaman Photography.

My horse Rio

Backing up a bit further, I set about finding a 15.3hh schoolmaster aged 8 – 12 back in September 2013. After trying a few unsuitable equine partners, a friend of a friend had a horse she was selling. He was stabled 20 minutes away, so it was worth the drive just to see. Glenalla Rio Grande was a 4 year old Welsh D cross, very green, and absolutely not what I’d set out to find. I felt an instant connection with him regardless, and after a few trial rides and a hack out, my mind was made up and he came home with me in November 2013. 

We had five and a half years together, and spent a big chunk of that out on the trails. We would regularly box out with friends and spend a day in the forest, or on clinics. We were even lucky enough to holiday together in the New Forest before he started coming up lame behind. 

Hind limb lameness

It was a difficult time, and we tried all we could to get Rio comfortable, but despite our best efforts we couldn’t. 12 months on, I had to make the decision to let him go before it was taken away from me. I couldn’t see him uncomfortable in the field, and he needed 2-3 sachets of Danilon per day to keep him happy.

I’d always said I would do anything to keep him happy, except keep him on drugs long term. It was gut-wrenching, as I’d always thought we had a good 15 years together having found him so young. Some things in life are just meant to be.

For me, losing Rio has given me even more purpose in what I do. 

One in a million

He really was my one in a million, and in those 5 years he got me through so much. I know that I’m not alone in feeling like this. Horses, like dogs, can really make our lives better. I had always dreamed of having my own pony, for as long as I can remember. I spent hours at my local riding school as a youngster, running around in classes, mucking out and sweeping down the yard. It was always worth it when I got to have my lesson on a Sunday! 

So currently, I am horseless. For now, I’m all about spending time with Jim & Eliza, which is one thing that this pandemic has really doubled in on. I feel so grateful that we got these extra weeks with Eliza – she’s starting school in September already! I just don’t know where the time has gone. 

For the next few years…

I love doing my job as an equine portrait photographer. Capturing people with their horses makes my heart sing. We all have our own special bonds with our animals, and they become a solid member of the family. If I didn’t have the photos of Rio that I do, I would have felt lost. Every day since I said goodbye to him I have looked back on them. It’s with great thanks to Gemma Scopes (Heels & Horseshoes) and Evie Lewis (Photography) that I had two wonderful shoots myself. On top of the countless phone snaps I have, he’s always with me and continues to inspire me. 

I know what it’s like to be on both sides of the camera, and my number one aim in a photoshoot is to help everyone to be relaxed; because when you relax, your horse relaxes, and we make the magic happen! 

Take care, stay safe

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