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  • Caroline Nijs

Caroline & Aurelia, the black Trakehner mare



When I sent out my horse photography 2022 model call in January, I was not sure how many reactions I would get. After all, I just started out as a 'pferdefotografin' in Switzerland.

My husband knew of a colleague who loves horses so he put it out there as well. And guess what, Caroline and Aurelia were excellent candidates for this adventure!


About Trakehner horses


I honestly don’t know anything about this breed. I came across it once, in a book I read as a teenager. So I decided to do some research. After all, maybe it’s a good breed to consider for myself 😉.


Origin

According to the Equine Welfare Society it is one of the oldest riding horse breeds in the world. The Trakehner horse originates from the Schwaike horses in East Prussia, which were known for their versatility and endurance. It was then crossbred with the English thoroughbred and Arabians. The resulting horse was named after the stud farm it came from: Trakehnen.

Don’t you just love little gems of information like this ☺️.


History

World War II was disastrous for the breed, many of them died in the exodus of the people fleeing East Prussia, also known as ‘The Trek’. At a certain point, these refugees had to cross the frozen Baltic Sea. The ice was not safe and to stay in front of the cracking ice, the horses had to keep galloping, sometimes in knee deep water. Stopping meant being shot by the Russian planes overhead, or freeze in the water below.

Only about a hundred made it to safety in Germany. And they became the foundation for the breed as we know it now.

Reading that story gave me the chills. And even more so in light of the current events.


Characteristics

The modern day Trakehner horse has an elegant appearance with great lines, that exudes nobility. They have an uncomplicated, calm, and friendly temperament and are willing to work.


pferdefotografie horse photography black trakehner mare

About Aurelia

Now it’s time to introduce Aurelia!


Aurelia is 7 years old and has been with Caroline since the age of 2. Aurelia spent some time with friends but is now back with Caroline. They used to ride on competition level but now they ride just for fun. “Fun” can be anything, from playing games, cantering through the woods, to some good old dressage or jumping, to … hold it … skijoring 😳!!


According to Caroline, Aurelia is indeed mostly calm, even in new situations. Apparently, Aurelia isn’t even fased by a huge shredder! Once, on their way to a dressage training, they found their way blocked because some cut trees were being shredded. Caroline trusted her horse and decided to ride past the ridiculously loud obstacle. And they did, without any issues, showing that Aurelia is a indeed an unflappable horse.


Of course, not everything is rosy all the time. Aurelia definitely exhibits a strong character, is high energy and can be dominant, to the point that she had to be separated from the group stable 😄.


About Caroline

According to Caroline, she and Aurelia share the same traits 😄.


I want my clients to be super prepared. Prepared clients are relaxed clients. Which is so important because it means the entire experience is genuinly authentic and we can create the best art.

As soon as the session is booked, I send all my clients a Welcome Guide with a lot of useful information. I also share a Style Guide with them. Caroline had obviously read all of that very carefully because she came prepared with very nice outfits and accessories. And a basket to carry it all! I will definitely have to add that to my list of what to bring to a photo shoot!


horse and owner shoot black mare and woman

About the shoot

At the time of this horse and owner photoshoot, there was still snow on the ground in this part of Switzerland: the ideal backdrop for a winter photoshoot.


The barn

The barn is situated on the west side of Lake Zürich, in the middle of beautiful hills.

I arrived too early, as usual 😏, and had a good look around. They also have cows, so I was a bit limited on where to go. But it had some interesting wood siding that worked well to use as background. And a nice big barn door was excellent for those black background images.


The surroundings

In the immediate proximity of the barn were a few houses with cute little streets and lush (yes, even in winter) hedges.


And then of course the hillside, still covered in snow, with woods in the background.

I have noticed that beautiful landscapes in Switzerland are often littered with a mass of utility poles and wires. That was the case here too, resulting in a lot of editing work. Because who wants thàt in their images, right!?



Cute tidbits

Caroline wanted a nice photo of her son and herself with Aurelia. So we all walked around to the various locations, snapping beautiful shots, and ending up in a meadow alongside a walking trail.


A few ladies with yapping dogs walked by and stopped to watch. The dogs weren’t very well behaved, one even broke free and came running at us. Understandably, Aurelia became rather nervous. Also, she probably had had enough of all the posing.


For a moment there she showed all the character traits Caroline had told me about. A bit of rearing and circling was going on so, before Aurelia would decide to return to the barn on her own ☺️, we decided to end the shoot.


By this time, Aurelia was really tense, so I told Caroline to go and take care of her. Caroline’s son and I walked back at a more leisurely pace, sliding over ice puddles, throwing sticks, and climbing on snow covered slopes.


I love how being a horse photographer never allows for a dull moment!


 

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