Why I'm Travelling the Globe to Photograph the Last of the World's Wild Horses
8th August 2018
Long before I tamed wild horses, travelled the world, or became a bestselling author, one of my biggest passions was photography. So what better way to combine all my interests than to travel the world photographing wild horses for my first large format photography book.
Last year I pitched the idea to my publishers, Penguin Random House, and they loved it. Since then I’ve spent months researching wild horse populations on every continent and working out the parameters in which I want to photograph. First and foremost, I wanted wild horses in every sense of the word.
Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by my exposure to wild horses to date, but to me wild horses are those that roam in regions uninhabited by people, have herd dynamics that defy human intervention, and live out the true meaning of survival of the fittest. It is these horses that I want to live amongst, in a bid to better understand horse behavior and herd dynamics.
Having photographed feral herds in New Zealand, Australia and America, I’ve seen some of the wildest horses on the planet. Some flee as soon as they lay eyes on humans, while others are instinctively curious. I’ve been privileged to have wild horses approach me, some watching mere meters away; but these horses are wary, ready to flee at any sign of danger. Their ears are cocked, their muscles tremble and if I move even a hairs width they spin and take flight.
In contrast I’ve also photographed semi-feral herds in France, Germany, Mongolia and the UK. All of these roam free, yet many are privately owned, gelded, branded or fed during harsh climate conditions. Then in other iconic herds across the world, wild horses have become tourist attractions; their senses dulled by constant exposure to people. For me there is a finite difference between a truly wild horse and these managed herds who no longer have the same fight and flight instincts of their forefathers.
Another factor I considered when selecting the herds and regions to include, was the population size. In too many areas, extensive management has resulted in low genetic diversity which not only puts them at risk of disappearing forever but also influences the way herds interact. As I mapped out the semi-feral and feral herds I was dismayed to find that only a handful of countries have more than 1000 wild horses.
And so began my quest to search out, and photograph, the world’s last truly wild horses. The first leg of my journey began today, after booking impromptu flights to the Australian Alp’s in the aftermath of a blizzard, to capture what life is like for the Snowy Brumbies in the harshest of winter conditions. I'll be living out under the stars (in a swag, in true Aussi style) for the next few days, following these wild herds from sunrise to sunset, but once I'm back in civilisation I'll share my adventures with you all (use the keyword 'Wild Horses of the World' to follow the full series of blogs)! It’s going to be a wild ride."