The raw beauty of Dartmoor ponies

Karen Chapman
Karen Chapman

On her first visit to Dartmoor, Fi Takács went for a horse ride on the moor. “This decision changed everything: Whilst riding, I was dumbstruck with the wild beauty of the moors and the sense of space; the buzzard’s screech, the gorse, and the bizarre granite outcrops. It got completely under my skin and into my bones.

‘Some ponies approached us as we stopped. I noticed their cheeky ways, entranced by their behaviour. Coming down off the moor that day was very hard; it felt like a severing from the land. A year later, I moved here. A couple of years after that I got my first, basic camera. The ponies have taught me a lot about dropping the need for any agenda and just letting things unfold. I respect them and never want to approach with the idea of ‘taking’ anything from them at all, not even a photograph. It’s important for me to drop any expectation when I’m out with my camera. I wanted to capture how it could feel to be amongst the ponies, to be looked at directly by a stallion, to be enchanted by a wild-hearted foal, to feel peace around a free-roaming mare.

‘If I have the nagging feeling to go out with the camera, I just go. Pretty much every time I do, something wonderful will happen. I’ve stumbled across ponies having morning sleeps, I’ve even had a yearling colt walk over very close to where I was sitting and lie down for a rest. My work has always been inspired by and involved with the natural world. This way of observing and merging when I’m in wild spaces has been going on for a long time.

‘I’ve become proactive on Instagram, sharing stories and photographs and connecting with wild horse photographers and enthusiasts across the globe, in particular the American ones. Several have visited and I take them to see some of the ponies they’ve seen in my photographs. I love doing this. It fascinates me that certain images really speak to people in other countries. There was a particular one, Painting The Prairie Pinto, which was taken near Merripitt Hill and reminded me of Arizona and the colours of the horses that roam the American landscape. The response to it was amazing.

‘My pivotal moment was watching a documentary about American wild horse photographers called ‘Strong Women, Wild Horses’. I wanted to feel what they felt when they were out amongst the horses. Photographing the ponies has definitely changed me and besides feeling peace around them, there can be laughter, tears, joy and a whole lot more.”

Fi Takács exhibition, ‘Ponies of Dartmoor’, is at the Barn Gallery, Stone Lane Gardens, Stone Farm, near Chagford, TQ13 8JU ( and runs from 28th September to 28th October 2018, 10am until 6pm daily. There are framed works, limited edition signed prints and gift cards. Commissions and orders are welcome. If you’d like to meet Fi in person, she will be at the show every weekend and by prior arrangement during the week.

Visit or email to find out more about Fi’s work. Go to earthadorfi to connect with Fi on Instagram.

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