For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to go to Sable Island. I am not quite sure how I knew about the horses on Sable Island, other than loving horses and ponies while growing up, and hearing stories about them. In the 1960s, people believed  the horses on Sable Island should be removed. I remember references to turning the horses into pet food or glue when I was young. In response to the proposal, there was a huge public outcry, and hundreds of children wrote letters to Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, asking him to save the horses. A bill was passed and the horses were saved. The Canadian Government gave the horse population full protection from human interference. I was born in 1964 after the fact, but knew all about it as a child, through stories.

“Visiting Sable Island is a dream come true! Sable Island Wild Horses have always had a special place in my heart. Growing up, Sable Island was a magical place I could only dream of escaping to—the idea of this place where horses roam free, amongst shipwreck ruins, and sand dunes, free as the wind--free to live, free to die. My lifelong dream became a reality this past June with Adventure Canada.

This expedition with Adventure Canada allowed me the opportunity to travel to a remote island that is hard to access. Travel, be it Southern France, the American West or Sable Island allows me to explore and see new places and meet new people. Travelling with Adventure Canada was an incredible way to meet people I wouldn’t normally meet, it was a privilege to learn from so many experts on board the Ocean Endeavour about subjects that I didn’t know about. I never knew that Sable Island was the largest breeding ground for the Gray Seal as an example. This incredible expedition reminded me of watching Jacques Cousteau's many televised voyages. He inspired so many with his interest in wildlife and natural history and his love for the sea, and most of all for exploration. I felt like an explorer! Adventure Canada made that happen for me. The whole experience is what is important to me--it is all about fun, adventure, exploring, the people, it’s about the overall experience. The photographs are the icing on the cake. It's about living with purpose and having an interesting, meaningful life and enjoying the journey.

 

Why do I make art?

“Creativity is characterised by the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to generate solutions”.

For me, creating art through my photography improves my mental, emotional, and physical states. Photography is more than just taking a picture—it’s about recording fragments of thought, feeling, and memory. Photography allows me to focus and fine tune my thinking and my vision. That is the best part of it all, it allows me to be present and involved in the process as it is happening—it is where the magic happens. I just absolutely love the process: Be still, watch, analyze, listen, process, and then create. I’m just doing what I feel I am supposed to be doing, doing what I feel I was meant to do. Work hard, make art and stay humble--working towards the greater good.

“To practice any art….is a way to make your soul grow.”~ Kurt Vonnegut

 

Why Horses?

There is something about horses that I just love, their movement, their grace, the power, their freedom of movement. Sable Island horses just seem the perfect fit, they are part of Canada's heritage, they have a special place in our hearts as they are a national treasure.

 

Wild horses are majestic, beautiful and exciting to photograph. The horses on Sable Island come in many colours: Chestnut, brown, black, and Palaminos and stand anywhere between 13.2 to 15.2 hands high, appearing pony size. When we saw them in June, they were shedding out their long scruffy winter coats.They live amongst beautiful wind swept sand dune where predators are non-existent and were easy to spot amongst the dunes. The temperament of wild horses can range from extremely shy to approachable—as part of the ongoing stewardship and conservation of this remote island, and to protect the wild horses, visitors to the Island are asked to maintain a distance of 20 metres. When our Zodiac first landed on the shore of Sable Island two bachelor stallions came trotting along the beach to see what we were up to. The horses seemed curious, appeared to accept us, then ran up a step sand dune to graze on Marram grass, our presence didn’t seem to affect the wild horses on Sable Island. Parks Canada staff guided us on our hikes and we were divided into smaller groups that focused on different interests and levels of hiking the island: birding, flora and fauna, the south shore to view seals, as well as two photography groups. We hiked across sand dunes and along horse paths in the vegetated areas. We avoided walking on steep dune slopes to prevent erosion. We hiked to Bald Dune, Fresh Water Pond and avoided trampling rare plants in wetland and nesting areas, and hiked to the South Shore another time, and had free access to the Western Spit of the Island for a “free walk” with horses grazing and walking around us.

 

After my trip to Sable Island and experiencing it firsthand, I am an advocate for the ongoing stewardship and conservation of this remote island. As much as my photography enriches my life I hope that sharing my collections can enrich the lives of others too. I am thrilled to be able to share my Sable Island collection with you!

 

Heather