A few weeks ago, I went over to Weely Heath, to meet Sommer and her mare, Phoenix. Sommer had booked a shoot back in 2016 but Phoenix had had some health problems, so we put the shoot on the back-burner with the intention of rescheduling when she was well again.
Sommer then contacted me again in September, just to let me know that her mare still wasn’t quite right but she hoped that she would be soon. And then finally, in October, she sent me a message to say that she wasn’t sure if Phoenix was going to get better, so could we get a shoot in the diary.
On a dreary looking Thursday afternoon, we met up and created some beautiful memories of Sommer and a very cheeky Phoenix, who looked so well, it was hard to believe it was the same horse Sommer had been telling me about.
Phoenix was an eleven year-old Irish x Warmblood, known as Phe Phe. And she’d had a bit of a rough start in life. Sommer bought her when she was turning five and describes her as being in a ‘sorry state’ at the time.
Phoenix didn’t trust people, which resulted in her being very difficult to handle, but Sommer was determined to win her around. And over time, they developed an unbreakbale bond, that often comes from winning the love of a horse with a bad past.
Sommer tells me that there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears (quite literally) in those first years and describes Phoenix as ‘the devil’, but says that, over time, she become the most loving, trusting horse and something of a Mummy’s Girl.
Phoenix and Sommer had a fun few years, hacking out, concentrating on ground work and having regular lessons together. However, the last year has sadly just been one medical condition after another. This pair seem to have had no luck whatsoever.
Phoenix has had an operation on her front left fetlock, problems with her eyes and ovaries, lameness issues, she’s been kicked in the field, which resulted in a ruptured stomach and she also contracted a virus.
And just when Sommer thought they were out of the woods and through the worst of it, the lameness returned with avengance. And this time, the vets said they couldn’t fix her.
So, heartbreakingly, just four days after our shoot, Sommer said goodbye to Phoenix for the last time.
She says that they had the best last few days together. Lots of grooming, cuddles and all her favourite food. I’m so, so sad for Sommer, because honestly, it sounds like she did such an incredible job with this little mare and gave her a wonderful, safe and loving few years, after she had such a traumatic start to life. Every horse deserves that kind of love and I’m sure if love could have saved her, she’d still be here today.
Sending the biggest of hugs and all my love to Sommer. What a blessing that we booked that shoot when we did. I’m so honoured I got to meet your girl, who was such a huge character and really tugged at my heartstrings. Thank you for having me. x