William Fox Pitt-A shoot with a difference
William Fox Pitt, wow, what a request!
A while ago I had a message from a lady called Sarah asking me if I could travel to a yard to take some pictures. Well what’s so strange about that I hear you say, well the lady lives in America and the yard was William Fox-Pitt’s!
Cue lots of excited/ disbelieving conversations between the husband and I. Why on earth would someone pick me to go to a yard and take pictures, especially someone who lives so far away. A few more messages exchanged between Sarah and I and it became clear. Sarah has a penchant for horses and especially nice ones. She had bought Shannondale Percy and he was being competed in America. However, she believes he is something rather special, as do I, and consequently thought he would do well at William’s.
The story of how Sarah found me is quite bizarre and just goes to show how much of a small world it is. Last summer I ran a competition for an Equestrian Stockholm saddle cloth. The first lady I pulled out of a hat never contacted me. So I pulled another name, Suzi. You may remember Suzi from her shoot with Zammi. Suzi is friends with Sarah and was so pleased with her shoot she recommended me to go and visit Sarah’s horses.
We chatted quite a bit about what Sarah wanted and it transpired that she actually just rather missed them and wanted some pictures of them. Nothing fancy, perhaps them out in the field and some nice head shots. Ridden ones would be amazing if possible. I’ll be honest I was quite nervous at the thought of going into a yard without an owner but I really wanted to make this happen for Sarah.
William Fox Pitt-The shoot
Time went by and eventually it was the day of the shoot. Now it was a quite a long drive but we were very lucky with traffic and soon arrived. The yard was busily preparing for their first clinic weekend. I hadn’t realised it was the first time they had run one and felt their pressure. Jackie, the head girl was very helpful, introducing me to the boys, Percy and Lucky. Lucky is quite shy and reserved but Percy is a character. Over the door and sniffing out any treats. He is super cute and totally won the husband and I over.
Luckily both the horses hadn’t been ridden and Percy was due to be ridden that morning. Rather than ask the grooms to be getting him and out multiple times, I thought it made sense just to capture some ridden pictures. Percy went off for a hack beforehand and Jackie explained that they will often hack before schooling. William very was accommodating and kept asking me what I needed.
William Fox Pitt-My Ethos
I explained that my main focus on any shoot I do is that the horse is happy and I don’t interfere. I just want people to ride as they normally would and if possible ignore me. Obviously its helpful if people give me a heads up if they are about to do a flying change or what jump they are doing. This simply allows me to get into position, and or out of the way!
With this in mind both Percy and Lucky did some flat work. Jumping wasn’t on the schedule and even though William did offer this goes against my idea of reportage photography. Instead they spent time working on loosening up and self-carriage. The yard has the most fantastic outdoor school. Lined by hedges with the most stunning back drop of the Dorset landscape. This coupled with the horses being turned out beautifully meant I was able to get Sarah quite a few pictures. Lots of ridden work and also some simple head shots. The husband also got some fantastic ones that are lovely and natural.
William Fox Pitt-The yard
Situated down a country lane with glorious countryside the yard is an equestrians dream. All the Monarch stables are located in huge agricultural barns, which looks quite rustic from the outside but means there are the pros of being inside but without that stuffy feel. The boxes are huge, and lots have a little window out the back for some daytime viewing. Every floor and walk way is rubber, meaning it’s both kind on the legs but also strangely quiet. A ginormous tack room stuffed with rosettes accommodates the many saddles and it is spotless. There is large wash down areas and an undercover horse walker. Plus, lots of turnout and both indoor and outdoor schools.
It’s not a flashy yard, there’s no bling and definitely no matchy matchy sets. Just simple black and white, but its classy and slick. Understated and extremely well thought out. It works well for the horses and you get the impression that this is the point.
William Fox Pitt-Thank you
Thank you again to all the team, the open weekend looked like a huge success and I would love to visit again.
It’s clear that not only is William a great horseman but also that he loves the boys. Giving them a quick ear scratch and a pick of grass before one of the grooms washed them off so he could get on the next one. William has a hectic schedule and I was tired just watching him.