It’s always been a dream of mine to ramble through the British countryside. As luck would have it, this year the unique opportunity arose for me to combine my passions for horses, photography and travel — attending an eight-day equine photography tour through Great Britain with award-winning equine photographer Katarzyna Krzesik-Mikolajekin.

Katarzyna offers tours and workshops across the Northern Hemisphere, allowing attendees the chance to capture the images of some of the most striking and exquisite breeds of horses, including Gypsy, Iberian and Friesians.

As a mother of young children, I arrived in Heathrow on a crisp September day feeling rejuvenated after a long and much-needed rest on the plane. I followed on straight to Bristol, curious at how quickly the landscape converted from city views to charming English countryside.

An intimate group of four avid photographers, the first day saw us making our way to the quaint township of Llandysul, in Wales. In the miserable, Welsh weather — surprisingly warm for a girl from Melbourne, accustomed to four-seasons-in-one-day — we photographed Peter Jones’s Welsh Ponies from the world-famous Menai Stud.

Travelling on to Rhayader, the group had the chance to photograph a well-accomplished Gypsy Cob stallion, McCartney’s Balios — a 2015, 2017 and 2018 CHAPS show champion, owned by Kim Carrick.

The villages of Rhayader and Saint Harmon were both stunning with picturesque farmland and cosy pubs, which made excellent spots for lunch where we filled up on rich English fare. From here on, the weather brightened up for the rest of the tour and I settled into the joyous rhythm of the days.

Journeying to the ancient and small village of Shap, known for its Neolithic past, we made a delightful base for three nights at Haweswater Cottage on Drybarrows farm, that butts on to the Lake District National Park. If there is ever a place that should be called God’s country, it is here.

After a long day travelling and photographing horses, we arrived well after dark and couldn’t see much at all. I woke just before 7am with light streaming deliciously through the curtains. I eagerly jumped out of bed, gazing out of the window and couldn’t believe my eyes! The sun was spectacularly rising over some of the most scenic countryside I had ever seen. Within minutes, I was dressed and running outside with my beloved camera in hand.

From the wooden gate, the national park beckons. Farm owners David and Gail Thompson let their fortunate mares and foals graze contentedly in the expansive wild. We spent the day hiking the Lake District National Park, and overlooking the dramatic Haweswater Reservoir we snapped pictures of the pretty Drybarrows Fell ponies.

The next day, we drove to Aldingham Beach and photographed a Gypsy Cob stallion by the name of Carrigbyrne Presley. We then ventured on to Austwick where we met Katie Barker and Chris Shackleton, and photographed Gypsy Cob stallions Highfield Grandslam and Mr Moonshine.

With sad goodbyes, we departed Shap and headed to Appleby, a famous town where gypsies show off and trade their horses once a year at the Appleby Horse Fair. We saw a much quieter Appleby when we stopped for lunch at the local pub. We photographed the gorgeous cob stallion Johnny, owned by Kim Carrick.

After a night in Stone, we rose early and headed to Exmoor National Park to capture the native and endangered Exmoor ponies that still roam the region. On the North Devon coast, we visited the sister towns of Lynton and Lynmouth for lunch and enjoyed the spectacular sea cliff views and picturesque harbour — it was truly a standout.

Exmouth beach provided a beautiful backdrop for photographing Gypsy Cobs, with its red sandstone cliffs hitting the sand and water in a breathtaking manner. We photographed two stallions, a buckskin called McCartney’s Regal, and a black and white called McCartney’s Marmite.

Moving on to Nadderwater, amongst the quintessential country fields we snapped up more shots of McCartney’s Regal and a red and white gelding Cob called Biscuit.

Nearing the end of the tour, we hiked through Dartmoor National Park to point our lenses at the hardy, semi-wild herds of Dartmoor ponies. We continued on to Norman Scott’s ancient 11th century cottage to photograph his elegant Connemara mare Bridie (registered name Spiddal Creevy Banks), sired by popular horse show winner Banks Timber. Chickens happily meandered the farmyard, and at one point Bridie was led inside Scott’s house so we could snap photos of her gazing out of the entranceway with its charming stable door.

During our time in Devon, we photographed many of Stephen and Julie McCartney’s Gypsy Cobs, and our last leg of the tour saw us in the ancient tin mining town of Tavistock, photographing onsite at the Collytown Shetland Stud.

Fortunate to have family in England, after the tour wrapped up I travelled to Wigan to visit. We embarked on our own tour, exploring many more beautiful parts of the country. One of the highlights was a private photoshoot in Rainford, St Helens, Merseyside with a Gypsy Cob gelding named Stevie and his owner Paula. Much of the countryside of England and parts of Wales reminded me of my own beautiful hometown, Neerim South.

Well-rested and with my cup filled, I returned home to my family in high spirits after sharing my love of horses, breeding cobs and photography with like-minded souls.

Rachel offers a variety of Equine photography sessions. Her website is full of incredible images and information about her photoshoots. www.equinephotographybyrachelflynn.com

Rachel also has a mailing list that you can join – links to sign up are shared regularly on Rachel’s Facebook page and website. Joining the mailing list avails you of “First-to-know” information about photoshoot events, incredible VIP offers throughout the year and there is a VIP draw EVERY MONTH where you could WIN A PHOTOSHOOT!

To see more of Rachel’s equine photography from the tour and from her home in West Gippsland, Victoria, visit her Facebook or Instagram pages.

error: PROTECTED IMAGE: © Equine Photography By Rachel Flynn