Get ready for an emotional equestrian rollercoaster on our interview with marvelous and brilliant Eloise Stevenson @artisanbaby.nz . We promise: she will put a big smile on your face!
“My average ride time when I am at home would be about thirty minutes and then I’m back to homemaking. I savor each moment from zipping up my boots to undoing my girth – each process a privilege and each action filled with familiar sights sounds and smells that I can’t wait to experience over and over again”.
1. Dear Eloise, tell us something about you. Where are you from and where do you live?
Hi Flyinghorse, my name is Eloise, I’m 36 and from Sussex in the UK and I have lived in New Zealand for the last 13 years. I came here on my travels and fell in love with the lifestyle so much, I never went home. Horses are kept differently here; they are rarely stabled with the majority (even some of the most valuable ones) simply living outdoors. The traditions of British courtyards, frosty mornings and immaculate horses riding out in Newmarket stripes are generally amiss yet equestrians here tend to enjoy a more equal partnership with their mounts – less admin, lots of space and more riding.
2. What is your first memory of horses?
My mother recalls pushing her pram through our village when horses would come clattering by, she says I would sit bolt upright in amazement and laugh and clap… I don’t exactly remember that but I love the story! My most vivid memory is that deep-seated wonder and fantasy associated with the notion of horses, connecting with them and riding on their backs. I lived through books and movies, yearned after horses grazing in paddocks and imagined myself flying over fences as we whizzed along in the car on long family journeys. Glimpses of stable yards around our local village and a single breath of oiled leather would have me transfixed. Unfortunately, my equestrian passion was not embraced by my parents – I recall the agony! Some of my friends had their own ponies, we used to cycle around knocking on doors looking for waifs and strays for me to ride. I bought my first horse when I was 18 and I bought my first quality horse when I was 30. Look at me now – I’m reliving my childhood the way I would have written it!
3. Who are your soulmates (human and equine)?
Adam my husband is my equestrian savior! I doubt he ever set out to have a rural property or the responsibility of horses and their associated facilities but he has wholeheartedly embraced this lifestyle for our family. Together we have worked very hard to create a home life that we cherish. I love to hear him describe my hunting friends; he says we have this fire, a passion – like a secret only we share that makes us reach highs in life the most natural way. He is pleased to have a wife with a solid avenue of elation and escapism right in the back garden. Having young children is challenging yet the moment my bum hits my saddle and I trot up the hill to the woods I’m feeling brand new again. Adam has promised me that when he has accomplished his business goals he will buy a big steady hunting mount and we can chase each others coat tails around the countryside until our hearts are content.
Rua my grey is a typical New Zealand Stationbred. A no-nonsense sturdy horse of mixed blood, he was bred and raised in the beautiful Hawkes Bay of New Zealand. With long days under saddle working sheep and cattle on rough and steep country, self-preservation is his mantra. He is virtually unflappable with a clever can do attitude. Rua is a textbook hunter and jumps full wire fences with ease and precision. Although he has a rather unusual confirmation he can turn his hoof to any discipline and always brings me home with a smile on my face. We have competed in showhunter and showjumping but I love eventing and horse trials. Cross country is his forte, he relishes the challenge of a tricky combination. We were sitting happily at pre novice but our dressage would have needed improvement for us to move up! Rua is my horse of a lifetime and I am so proud of everything we have achieved together.
Esmé and Georgette are my two little sweethearts and our other trusty old station-bred gelding Othello is their ‘pony’. Adam and I used to ride Rua and Othello together, we’d a buy coffee at the café and ride on the beach at least once a week. The last time we rode together was a special treat for our wedding anniversary.
4. How would you describe your approach to equestrianism?
My approach to equestrianism has changed dramatically since I became a mother, I suppose there has been a shift in my mind lately where for me it has become less of a sport and more an appreciation for the senses! Pre-children I would enter so many events and train every day. There was always lots to work on (there’s that dreaded dressage again) and hunting became a carefree release at the end of the season. The icing on the cake! (Just reading this, I realize my horse must have been quite tired!) I’m very lucky that I have a mount that can be left for days, weeks or months and be exactly the same ride each time I get on. My average ride time when I am at home would be about thirty minutes and then I’m back to homemaking. I savor each moment from zipping up my boots to undoing my girth – each process a privilege and each action filled with familiar sights sounds and smells that I can’t wait to experience over and over again. Hopefully in the future in the company of my daughters and their ponies!
5. Your IG feed is highly inspirational and shows a great eye for composing and a consistent color palette in your real life shots. What’s your IG vademecum?
I’m happy to share my secrets with you Flyinghorse J I try to keep my account as authentic as possible, I carry my phone everywhere it’s like a gun in a holster ready to be whipped out at any moment. A simple task like going to feed or catch the horses can often be the most beautiful – we are lucky with the position of the sunlight where we live and I have learned the pretty spots at different times of the day – of course, little girls and horses are always a feast for the eyes too! I find staging shots so rarely works out and I try not to constantly prompt my husband to take pics (although he often misses Instagram gold, sometimes I just have to let it slide and know when to live in the moment with my friends and family!) The equestrian style galleries with professional shots of immaculate riders and horses are so inspiring to me but this level of detail is definitely not where I am at in life right now. See the beauty in your daily routine and work with what you have before you.
For editing, I use VSCO and simply lighten and brighten all pics with the same formula. I went through a phase of using a dark moody filter but when I look back through these – my treasured memories they seem rather spoiled. I try to keep everything as close to original as I can so my girls can enjoy the images in the future and they don’t date.
I aim to post a picture a day, although sometimes I have a little break and return feeling refreshed. Often I don’t post a picture straight away, I edit, save it to my camera roll and then pop it into the ‘preview’ app. Here I simply shuffle them around and match any colour trends occurring and look for a nice visual balance. It’s a crazy thing, a few weeks ago I had a cool minty green colour theme showing through on my gallery, when the farmer called to say he was coming to do our wrapped hay bales. I hopefully asked him ‘what colour is the wrap?’ ‘a kind of light green’ he said. Warm fuzzy feelings of excitement for me. Hay bales are a thing to be celebrated and I knew those bales had a use other than to feed horses!
6. Looking at your jumps just gives us a feeling of happiness. A good advice for your fellow equestrian followers?
Slow down and enjoy every aspect of equestrianism. It’s easy to become so submerged in competition goals and training that we forget to see the magic. Be grateful for your horse, the discipline and patience he teaches plus the trust and effort he offers you. Most importantly give daily thanks and hugs to everyone that supports you.
For an everyday extra dose of freedom and beautiful equestrian pics, follow Eloise artisanbaby.nz