As part of my Wild Heart project, I travelled to Wales to meet with Roger Davies of Llanwrtyd Wells who kindly offered his expertise on the Hafdre Welsh Mountain Ponies and guided us through rural Wales. Esther discusses her experience.
My assistant and I met with Roger on a lovely autumn morning.
Roger suggested that we climbed into his Landover Defender, a wise move considering where we were heading!
Roger had planned in advance so we knew where the ponies would be. We drove up and over some beautiful terrain. As we climbed, you could see for miles, looking out across an area of truly outstanding beauty.
However, I also noticed that there had been a lot of deforestation in the area where we drove and it saddened me to see the land so exposed and cleared. I imagined how much the land has changed over the years as Roger had lived in this area all his life. He knew every nook and cranny of this area. As we climbed higher and higher looking out in all directions for the ponies I asked Roger about what negative impact the deforestation had on the Ponies over the years. We chatted about the vast privatisation of land and the crucial impact on the pony’s habitat and grazing. Rogers’s wealth of knowledge is clearly astounding and was very helpful to which I will be eternally grateful.
As we climbed even higher searching for ponies the weather, unfortunately, started to change for the worst. The ponies were nowhere to be seen, unfortunately. Roger was determined that we would find some ponies in the hill-tops but as the cloud moved in we decided to go to lower land where Rogers knew of ponies which were more accessible. As we arrived at our final destination, the bracken-filled land looked beautiful as the low sun started to shine through the cloud. The ponies were relaxed, grazing and soaking up the glimmer of sunshine that had appeared. I stayed there photographing the Hafdre Ponies peacefully for a few hours but to be honest I could have stayed for days! One of the best parts of my Wild Hearts project is simply spending time with the ponies watching and anticipating their moves whilst in awe of our wonderful native breeds.
I would like to thank Roger for his time and for giving me this wonderful opportunity to photograph his beautiful Hafdre Welsh Mountain Ponies.