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Wild: The Legendary Horses of Sable Island by Drew Doggett


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  • Wild: The Legendary Horses of Sable Island

    Price as reviewed:

    £100.00 for hardcover

    Author: Drew Doggett
    Published: 2022 – pre-order available
    Available as hardcover

    View now at drewdoggett.com

    About the book

    This large-format coffee table book tells the story of Sable Island’s wild horses. The author, Drew Doggett, has been collecting imagery of the island since 2012, including the first-of-its-kind aerial documentation captured by drone.

    It features never-before-seen images from Drew’s archive and personal writings that invite you on an intimate journey through a day on the island. This book is an ode to the incredible horses that have thrived, despite all odds, in a place man has failed to conquer.

    Review

    Sable Island is a narrow, crescent-shaped strip of land, often nestled in a thick blanket of fog, over 100 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada. It is home to one of the last herds of completely wild horses, who roam freely over the island’s 26 rugged miles.

    Award-winning photographer and film-maker Drew Doggett spent more than 70 days, over a period of nine years, on the island (one of the few artists granted overnight access), to create a comprehensive record of this unique microcosm of life.

    The magnificent double-spread photos do the talking in this splendid coffee-table book, but the foreword and Doggett’s artistic statement preceding them are important to understand the enormity of this work.

    Doggett says his book is meant to “transport readers to this stretch of undisturbed land and honour its only inhabitants”, the Sable Island horses, descendants of animals brought there and abandoned three centuries ago. Against all odds and despite the unforgiving nature of this little island, some of the horses managed to survive.

    There are currently around 550 horses, but their population can dwindle to as low as 150 in harsh winters. However, nearly 80 foals are born each spring – a perfect example of survival of the fittest. It has taken them just 300 years to adapt to their harsh landscape – eating the tough grass, digging for water under the sand, and building up strength every summer to survive the winter in this bleak and barren land.

    Doggett writes: “Sable’s beauty is her wildness, her freedom and her horses. It is a place man has failed to conquer, and a graveyard to so many who have tried. I am entranced by the vibrant reminders of nature’s majesty and the glory of her brilliance as well as the solitude of the island and the resilience of these horses.

    “I gravitate towards the ones that best represent the island’s wild essence. These are the stallions with a tangible energy or those with beautiful manes that cascade towards the ground in rich layers. Other times I’m drawn towards the older horses with time etched into their coats and a peaceful aura, or the younger foals whose heads barely stick out among the tall grass and never leave the watch of their mothers.”

    Even without this extraordinary context, the photos are breathtaking. The horses are indeed wild, beautiful and noble, with gloriously shaggy manes, golden with highlights, and short fluffy ears. The black and white frames enhance the bleak and lonely landscape, and the resilience of these indomitable creatures is writ large on every page.

    It is hard to describe the emotion provoked by these photos. Of course, they are spectacular, but it’s the horses’ otherworldliness, their connection with nature and Doggett’s passionate vision to tell their story that makes this so much more enriching and significant than most coffee-table books. It is an eye-opener to another equine realm and gives a deeper understanding of the spirit of the animal we all know and love.

    Verdict

    An emotive story that is so much more enriching and significant than most coffee-table books. It will introduce you to another equine realm and give you a deeper understanding of the spirit of the animal we all know and love. 

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