I have loved the idea of a true horse/ rider partnership since my childhood days of dreaming of one day owning a horse. It was a romantic fantasy born of the novels and T.V. shows of my childhood. Where people understood horses and horses understood people, to the point of being able to save the day after some dramatic crisis! OK, not very realistic but it started my desire to have a sane and sensible, go anywhere, horse that worked with me, rather than being just controlled by me. Many years later I still aim for co-operation through communication rather than force. It may be a little fanciful but we all need something to strive for and this is mine. It’s been a lifelong passion which will never truly end and the process of learning has been, and will always be, the reason I ride horses. I take every opportunity to learn from the horsemen I admire and I learn every day from my own horses and fill in the gaps with my best experience of watching and observing.
I have been lucky enough to own a horse that I am completely in tune with, a mare that I bred called Jade. I am just about at the stage of saying I have it again with her brother Greg. What I do know is that it takes a long time; years, to truly get to that relationship of trust and respect, and it builds and develops for as long as you are partners. Once there, the sense of accomplishment and complete satisfaction is immeasurable. Although not desperately ‘competitive’, I do love to compete and test that partnership.
In many ways, the way I approach my sculpture is the same way. It’s never enough for me to depict a generic horse with ’no purpose’. When I’m riding I know that I will get the best out of my horse when he is relaxed and that an excited, distracted or spooked horse will be difficult to work with. To the observer the whole picture of horse and rider will be of conflict and disharmony, rather than the relaxed picture of co-operation. This is what I mean about the subject for my sculpture having a purpose. It is important to me that the theme of the piece is backed up by the horse’s form and expression. A horse’s whole being will change with its mood and outside stimulus. I want to make sculpture that will make sense and be recognisable by the most discerning horseman and this applies to all my animal subjects; I need to be able to ‘get under the skin’ of my subject.
I don’t believe I could do what I do without my passion for the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the horse. Through horses I have learnt to explore other species and try and see them as they are with their specific characteristics and needs. Time watching and observing is never time wasted, and everything I learn in either of the two passions of my, life are invaluable to the other.