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‘The best photo I ever took’: husband’s last cross-country picture of his wife wins national prize four years after her death

A photograph of a rider at her last cross-country event, which her husband believes sums up the partnership they had, has won a national photography competition.

Steve Bull’s picture of his wife Kathryn and her horse Harltons Field of Dreams (Ollie) won the “enjoying life” category of the British Horse Society’s (BHS) Big BHS Photo Show.

Steve told H&H the picture, taken in 2015, was the last cross-country his wife rode before her death, aged 39, in an accident in 2016.

“Sometimes you capture a moment, and don’t realise it,” he said.

“They had a unique partnership, and this picture sums that up. It’s probably the best one I ever took of them.”

Steve said Kathryn, who ran a livery yard, went to catch Ollie and another horse for the equine dental technician on the day of her death.

No one knows exactly what happened but she was found in the field with a lead rope round her neck; a coroner concluded she had died instantly.

Steve took over running the yard, and riding Ollie, a 17.3hh former racehorse who has his quirks.

“He’s not an easy horse; I broke my pelvis falling off him,” he said. “He’s lovely but it’s taken me four years to build a bond with him because he’s a one-person horse.

“I promised her in the field that I’d look after her horse and dogs and the yard so I kept that promise — but Ollie saved me too.”

Steve slowly built that bond, through dark days, which he has documented in his book The Return Journey, an Expedition of Loss and Love.

“The other day, we had to feed a couple of horses, and I said to Claire at the yard ‘you feed Ollie and I’ll do the other one’,” he said. “I came back and his food was still there, and she said he hadn’t budged, he’d just been looking at me. When I went back, he came over and ate his tea. It’s taken four years to get that.”

Steve said it was emotional to win the competition.

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“It was impressive that day as he never went through water, and she’d spent months and months working on it, so I stood there,” he said.

“She was always smiling, and in that picture, she’s got a massive grin on her face, and I think he has too; they’re both smiling.”

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