Riley was a handsome young Thoroughbred gelding who was adored by all. I watched as Naomi took him from an awkward off-the-track young horse at his very first dressage show, to competing confidently (with wins and placings!) at eventing competitions and dressage events. Not only was he an incredibly talented horse, he was also one of the best-natured horses I have come across. When we were out at events he often put experienced horses to shame with his unflappable, lovable nature as he stood patiently by the truck waiting for us to return with his older brother, Snoopy. I often joked that once he was retired from competing, he was going to go be a bomb-proof pony club horse for some lucky young rider! He was truly one-in-a-million and one of my favourite horses of all time.
In mid-2012 I got a call from Naomi. Riley had sustained a career ending injury that left him unable to be ridden or even to stand in his stall comfortably and at the age of just 7, he was to be put to sleep. But before he was put to rest, would I like to come and take some photos and say my goodbyes?
This is one of the images we captured that day.
While this wasn’t an official session, this was the first time I have photographed a pet soon before their death. Over the last few weeks I have been looking back and thinking about how important those images we captured were. The photo of Riley and Naomi together hangs proudly in her truck, taking Riley to every event to look over her and the horses. Over time, memories fade. But these images showing Riley as he was – velvety nose and all – will not.
I have so many people that come to me after their pets have passed and said “I wish I had photos of my pet, but by the time I thought about it it was too late.” So in honour of Riley and all the other pets that have passed away, I am announcing that I am now offering special sessions for elderly or terminally ill pets.
These “Goodbye” sessions can take place anywhere – your home, your pets favourite place or another place of your choosing. Because I want all pet owners to have access to these sessions even in the midst of the vet bills that can pile up at this difficult time, your $100 session fee for this session is put straight into print credit (payment required to secure your date, travel fees may apply for those outside the Hamilton/Matamata-Piako area). Just give me a call when you get the news and I’ll make it a priority to come and photograph your pet and their favourite people as they are, doing their favourite things. When you’re ready, we’ll look through the beautifully edited photos together (no set number of images for these sessions, the final number of images will depend on your pet and what they can cope with as their comfort is my biggest priority) and you can choose what images you would like to purchase to remember your pet by. With any prints you purchase, I will also include a digital copy of that image on USB for you to keep.
While I am extremely proud to offer this service, I also want to take this opportunity to remind you not to wait until the end to have your pet photographed. We never know how long we have with our pets, and by the time you realise you want photos done it may be too late.