Photographer Lucy Sewill captures the special relationship between horse and human

PUBLISHED: 11:01 08 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:01 08 December 2016


Lucy Sewill explores the significance of horses in her own life and in the lives of others in a new book and exhibition where human and equine reveal their special relationship

Dorset has always felt like home, even before I lived here all the time. Maybe that’s because of the horses I knew here and the ponies I rode as a child on Studland Heath. So it seemed only natural that I should begin and end my latest project in this beautiful county with the animals closest to my heart – horses.

My professional work has taken me and my camera to some incredible places and I’ve met the most fascinating people along the way, photographing some of our nation’s best known faces - from prime minster to pop star. But when the work is done I happily return home to my family and to my stables and its horses.

It’s here that I’ve found such strong levels of connection, and I wanted reveal this connection in the lives of others too.

Horses and Humans is all about this powerful link. The project, which I started earlier this year, has taken me on an amazing journey of discovery across the UK, to Ireland, North Africa, the USA and back to Dorset.

Overall I met hundreds horses and their humans. Here are some of my favourite Dorset horses and humans plus one very special image featuring a truly remarkable man who can talk horse.

Louis Muspratt with Dance Floor King

Louis Musprat and Dance Floor KingLouis Musprat and Dance Floor King

This beautiful race horse lives in the next valley to me at the racing stables belonging to the lovely Nick Mitchell who trains over jumps. Racing is a sport that isn’t known for its tenderness but this image captures that special relationship between jockey and horse.

Sorrel Russell with Hotwash

Sorrell with HotwashSorrell with Hotwash

One of the first local shoots was with Sorrel Russell in Blandford. Sorrel is very natural with her horses and has an unusual gypsy cob thoroughbred cross call Serge. He has a blue or ‘wall eye’ traditionally this was viewed with suspicion. But Sorrel thinks he is beautiful, and indeed he is. She also owns the diminutive Hotwash. This determined little Shetland proved an irresistible addition to the shoot as he climbed onto the sofa to join her. He was not going to be left out!

Amy Panter

Amy PanterAmy Panter

As an aerial acrobat and skilled equine performer Amy Panter travels all over the world. I invited her to my home in Cheselbourne to meet my horses. Amy hung up her silks in the paddock and I let my horses free to meet this amazing woman hanging from the branches of their favourite tree. The bay in this image is call Isis, after the Egyptian deity; we have had her since she was a foal and she is very much part of our family.

William Fox-Pitt & Chilli Morning

William Fox-Pitt with Chili MorningWilliam Fox-Pitt with Chili Morning

William Fox-Pitt and his famous horse Chilli Morning are based at his HQ in Sturminster Newton. By this stage of the project I found that the horses were very much leading things. Chilli Morning, who unusually for an event horse is a stallion, was the perfect gentleman. However he knew that William needed to get on with things as they were about to fly off to Rio to compete in the Olympics so he signalled the end of the shoot by dropping his head and biting a hole in the backdrop!

Hennriette Von-Stockhausen & Saville Row

Hennriette Von-Stockhausen and Saville RowHennriette Von-Stockhausen and Saville Row

Hennriette Von-Stockhausen lives in Frampton with her daughter Lily. She is also one of a small number of people who can ride side-saddle. I had shoots with both of them, Hennriette with the stunningly handsome Saville Row and Lily with Otis her mother’s enormous horse, showing just how gentle a horse can be with a person so very small.

Monty Roberts the Horse Whisperer

Monty Roberts in his bar with Shy BoyMonty Roberts in his bar with Shy Boy

I went to California at the request of Monty Roberts, a man who has the most remarkable connection with horses. There could be no better place to end this special equine project than with the world’s best known ‘horse whisperer’. I wanted to photograph him with Shy Boy the Nevada mustang which featured with him in a BBC documentary in 1997, ultimately propelling him toward international recognition for his understanding of horses. I spent four extraordinary days with Monty at his ranch seeing the ways in which horses and humans can step into each others lives. On the final evening I asked if Monty could take Shy Boy into the bar at his home for this rather unusual portrait. Monty agreed and in front of an audience of students, staff and family Shy Boy stepped, without hesitation, into Monty’s world.

Horses & Humans by Lucy Sewill, with foreword by Monty Roberts, is published by Peridot Press at £35. Dorset Magazine reader offer - You can get 50% of the RRP of £35 if you buy direct from using the discount code HORSES where prompted on the Shopping Cart page. Offer available until 31 December 2016.

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