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Dog Shoot, Horse Shoots / 06 Dec 2015
GG, Legend and Flapjack
I wish I had known that this day would be one of the last days I got to photograph this horse.
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GG belonged to my sister and I and he was a huge part of both of our lives. We are very much a animal family and we don’t really see animals as pets. They are part of the family. GG was definitely a part of the family. Every weekend we would spend as much time as possible with him and during the week we would go through to see him and ride him at least once a week. He was stabled half an hour away on a little farm very far from pretty much anything, so it was difficult to get to him as much as we wanted. My sister was a lot more serious about competitive riding than I was, but since we still shared him and we both wanted to ride him an equal amount of times I normally used to get the task of taking him on outrides and doing his fitness training through the sugarcane fields. We spent hours out there! And I would always end up having a good chat to him and pretty much just discuss life. Talk to him about what was amazing in life, what was getting me down, what was scaring me, what I was excited about. Pretty much everything. Its quite pleasant talking to an animal. You can tell them the most ridiculous plans you have for life, the most embarrassing stories, anything, and theres never any judgement or nasty replies.
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We spent a good few years with this little routine. That poor horse must have really gotten quite over hearing about a teenage girls boy stories and school drama! When my sister finished school she moved away to go train young horses. But it was further away in the opposite direction and there was no way we could still split the riding 50/50. So I pretty much took over all the riding. I loved riding, but I found it quite difficult to step in and ride an already competing horse and just take over from my sister. I hadn’t really been jumping him at all before then. Flat work I was still quite comfortable with since I had been doing that too over the past few years, but as much as I loved jumping, I was still scared.
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We still decided to enter him and I in the KZN qualifier show though. There are normally 3 of these shows that you get to do to be selected. I had a serious hockey game on the same day as the one show and the other happened to be a day my sister was back visiting so she got preference over him. That left me with one day to do a show to qualify for the provincial team. To say I felt it was too much pressure would be an understatement, but I went anyway. The show was disastrous. I tend to think too much sometimes, and this was one of those cases. I just over thought it all. Thinking back I know I was under trained, but I also know that I was more than capable. I just didn’t believe it then and so the brain kicked in and ruined what should have been instinct and habit. I think that show sort of ruined riding for me a bit though. I never quite got back the confidence I needed to compete and take it seriously, and a few months later when my sister got another horse and decided to take Legend (the new horse) and GG to a farm where she would move too, I didn’t exactly complain and I never really got to ride much after that.
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Life then happened. School and hockey took preference and later varsity. I never really consciously gave up horse riding… it sort of just drifted out of my life and other stuff filled its space. But after I had moved to Joburg I started missing the animals a lot and especially GG. I would make sure I always got to hop on him and take him for a short little ride when ever I visited or at least go and spend some time just chilling with him if my sister had a show coming up and I couldn’t ride. This was one of the days when I couldn’t ride. My sister was busy jumping Legend while my dad lunged GG and since I know my sister always likes jumping pictures I was with her while she was jumping. And once she finished the light dropped and was just stunning so I spent some time photographing Flapjack. I got to spend some time with GG, but not nearly enough. I watched as he was finishing up being lunged and then it was getting dark so we sort of sped up the packing up and putting away horses thing. A few months later when I was back in Joburg I got a phone call from my sister telling me GG was in hospital with colic. He often used to get colic. He loved his food more than I do and he was a greedy guts. So I wasn’t too shocked that he had colic. I was shocked that he was in hospital and I was shocked that my sister had phoned to tell me. I packed my bags and was planning on driving through the night to go see him, but I had to go to a meeting with my boss first. The meeting ran late (as it always had, and I should have known) but by the time the meeting was finished it was almost midnight and I was far too tired to drive through then. I decided I would go home, have a good sleep and then leave. I woke up to a phone call the next day that GG had died.
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I should have said fuck it to my job for once and visited my horse!

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Johannesburg, South Africa