The Quintessential Heart Horse - Three Red Ponies

Quintessence Series - Limited Edition Horse Fine Art Prints

There’s a saying you may have heard, the one that goes ‘Every Rider has that One Special Horse, That One Horse Who Changes Everything About Them’.

My beautiful princess pony Tessa, (red pony #2 and the only mare in Three Red Ponies), is that ‘one special horse’ for me.

Limited edition Fine Art Print Black and white abstract horse photograph by Michelle Wrighton Three Red Ponies

Tessa came into my life at a time when the last thing I planned was to get another horse, let alone an un-broken 10yo ex-broodmare.  After nearly a decade of living with a very traumatic and life threatening illness in my family, PTSD and severe anxiety were daily struggles.

But when I saw her advert online, even with photos that didn’t do her justice *at all*, I knew immediately that she was special and I needed to bring her home.

Fine Art black and white limited edition fine art horse prints by Michelle Wrighton

I had re-educated a few horses over the years and started several standardbreds under saddle, but Tessa was the first horse I started myself right from the very beginning.  Between my nerves, multiple hospital admissions for my hubby and a horrific gate latch injury Tessa suffered to her shoulder, it was probably the longest its taken anyone to start a horse under saddle ever, but eventually I was  not only able to rider her and by doing so, I also learned how to control my anxiety.

Tessa helped me get through the hardest years of my life and in the process showed me that even on the darkest days there is light to be found if you just look for it.

Tessa has the character and calm demeanour that even wins over people who  normally don’t like arabs.  She is elegant, courageous, tough as nails, graceful, patient and forgiving of my many mistakes. 

She’s also highly opinionated, a touch arrogant and will make her feelings clear to anyone or anything that doesn’t meet her standards  – but she’s too well mannered to be nasty about it (I call her my princess pony for good reason!).   

Fine Art black and white limited edition fine art horse prints by Michelle Wrighton

She is willing to please and has the kindest eye that is only eclipsed by her kind heart and soul.  Not mare-ish at all but not overly affectionate like the boys are, Tessa can be aloof and reserved with strangers and will definitely give me the cold shoulder to express her displeasure if I have been absent for more than a day.

Tessa has never won a ribbon, and now at 17 probably  never will.  She’s still green as grass as she only had about 8 months under saddle before injury sidelined her 5 years ago, but she’s still the lightest, most responsive horse I have ridden in my life, she’s incredibly special to me and has made such a difference to my world. 

I have been able to bring her back into regular work earlier this year which has been absolutely incredible, but the connection we share is not based on our achievements riding, anyone who has experienced sharing their life with their heart horse will understand, its so much more than just the riding.  

Recently I posted on my facebook page, asking if other people had a heart horse, and what the term meant to them (you can read the post here).  

Trust, freedom, friendship, love, unique, happiness, partnership, teacher, understanding, connection are just some of the words we use to describe a heart horse.

Fine Art black and white limited edition fine art horse prints by Michelle Wrighton

While our stories differ and the journey is not necessarily an easy one, the unique bond shared with that one special horse makes us all want to be a better rider and caretaker, to make life better for them.

I’m not sure if its destiny or co-incidence, but Tessa’s registered name is ‘Ruby Park Quintessence’.  Her breeding is 75% crabbet arabian and her dam was Anglo Arab. 

The Oxford Dictionary’s defines:


1  The most perfect or typical example of a quality or class. 

2  The aspect of something regarded as the intrinsic and central constituent of its character. 

3  A refined essence or extract of a substance.

4  In classical and medieval philosophy,  a fifth substance in addition to the four elements, thought to compose the heavenly bodies and to be latent in all things.

I know I am terribly biased, but my little red mare represents everything that I love most about these beautiful animals as a group,  as well as whole heart horses as individuals. 

To me, everything about Tessa, even her name, defines the quintessential heart horse. 

One of my favourite things to do (and I can only assume its one of hers too as she actively seeks me out), is to go out and sit in her paddock. 

Fine Art black and white limited edition fine art horse prints by Michelle Wrighton

As soon as she sees me, Tessa will come over to where I am sitting, drop her head to say hello then either rest a leg and have a snooze by my side, or stay with me and graze.  Its a pretty special feeling to have a horse willing to leave her friends just to spend time with you when she has a 20 acre paddock to roam in and no halter and lead rope to restrain her.

It’s during these experiences that the Quintessence series of photographs are created.  They are truly a collaboration between us, Tessa is free to move around as she pleases while I sit on the ground at her feet. 

All her movements, actions and behaviours are 100% natural, authentic and unguided and my hope with the black and white treatment is to create imagery that reflects not just my horse, but the quintessence – the typical, intrinsic essence recognised by all horse lovers in the belief in the Quintessential Heart Horse.

Limited edition Fine Art Print Black and white abstract horse photograph by Michelle Wrighton Three Red Ponies

This limited edition series of fine art horse prints is available on fine art paper in several sizes and is delivered ready for framing.  Please contact for details.

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