Caroline is the author of the Gloucestershire-inspired play, 'The Tree Charter Tapestry', which celebrates our ancient woodlands and forests, and the deep connection which we all share with Nature. The recording of the production, at the Everyman Theatre Cheltenham, is available to listen to as a podcast on: https://anchor.fm/caroline-rose-summerfield
For further information about other plays going into production and touring, in 2021, please refer to the Natura Contemporary Theatre's website:
'Photography is a hobby for me along with writing and travelling. I enjoy taking pictures…. it is a distraction from daily life, especially at the moment with the pandemic. I often find the best pictures I take are when I am on a walk ……… and can capture a scene or a moment in time. This one came gift-wrapped.'
The photograph was taken during the recent snow but we were delighted to be told the background to it, a friendship with the horses that began in May last year. The picture of the foal (not part of the competition) was taken at that time.
It might appear, from first glance, that there is nothing exceptional about this image. But for me, it reminds me of a new discovery, be it in a very simple way.
It was taken on the 7th May, when we were in lockdown. Our outdoor activity was restricted to one precious walk per day, near home. I had discovered some common land, very close to where I live, which I had never walked or explored before. Spring had arrived and there were hawthorn bushes everywhere, in beautiful white blossom. The walk takes you slowly uphill to an old, rugged and lone tree. And looking back, there is a glorious view, leading to the Malvern Hills in the distance.
There were horses grazing here. I have learned since that they are Gypsy Vanners, whose history begins with the Gypsies of Great Britain, who sought a horse with strength and build to pull their caravans. They wanted a horse that was not only strong, but that was mild-mannered, gentle and easily trained. They are relatively small horses, but are broadly built and sport heavy feathering, starting at their knees and hocks. A long, full mane and tail are also common traits.
Knowing nothing about horses to that day, I was to embark on a very special journey, when I discovered a new-born foal. I watched as she lay so tiny, close to her Mum. She was beautiful, with a black and white coat. Always armed with my camera, which goes with me almost everywhere, I was very cautious, as I didn’t know how the mares would respond, so I kept a respectful and safe distance. I returned the next day and then became very excited when I realised that another foal had been born.
During the next few weeks, I watched their growth and development. I discovered that the mares were protective, but gentle and not at all worried about my intrusion. They became very used to this strange person with a camera, who photographed them constantly. One of the foals was much more confident than the other and quickly trotted to me when I approached, tentative at first, but then with increasing confidence. She seemed to welcome the human contact and would allow me to stroke and talk to her. Totally besotted, I relished this new experience. I didn’t take food, as I quickly learned that the adults would become very competitive for carrots and there was a definite pecking order. Being full grown mares, they were still big enough to knock you over, if they so desired.
Even several months later, they would still come to me, although they quickly grew in size and height. Observing their way of life, they seem to live a harsh way of life in some ways, though they have plenty of grassland and water. But they do not receive any real care or grooming, which is such a shame, as they are majestic creatures. And I wonder what they are bred for……
However, I feel privileged, to have witnessed the growth of a devoted family of beautiful and gentle horses. In the midst of the horror and worry of COVID-19, I have felt for the first time what every farmer must feel, that special connection with his animals……. . It is something I will always remember with joy!