1,000-star hotel

Early morning. The sun hasn’t risen yet. 5.30 am. Fog. I start walking towards the horses’ meadows. The last house of the village. In a room lit by an old chandelier, the radio plays a merry popular song. As I pass by it, I find myself alone, in the fog, on a dirt cart road. It’s hard to describe how I feel. Fear and fascination at the same time. I’m alone, but surrounded by hundreds of lives. Crickets all over the place. Wild flowers of all colors. The biodiversity of the area is almost touchable. In 10 minutes I reach …

On the spot improvisations

I knew, the moment I arrived there, that my carefully arranged plans for the workshop had to be adapted. It was much too quiet. The quiet before the storm because, in less than a week, a few thousand people were expected to invade the place for the famous Transylvania Horse Show at Cross Country Farm. It had rained heavily during the past few days. Floods throughout the country. But, as it is already common knowledge that the sun is my good friend, the weather was perfect when we arrived. Mihnea Virgolici, the farm’s owner, wasn’t there. The outdoor arena, where …

Horse photography lessons at Potcoava

The forecast was of bad weather. Three days of rain and storms throughout the entire workshop. I was a little worried. What shall we do, as there is no indoor manege at Potcoava? I had to take a quick decision. I was sitting on the terrace, admiring the Leaota Mountain summits threatened by dark clouds. Within half an hour, while drinking my coffee, the plan of attack was ready. Even if it trained nonstop, I would teach my students to take spectacular photos on bad weather. Inside and outside, using studio lights. I even had in mind suitable locations and …

When life thrashes movies

When you see his long, curly hair and the large smile on his face, you could think he’s one of those late rebels who go to Vama Veche and dance barefooted on the beach until morning. Then you see his look. You feel his attitude. His daring. Something tells you he’s different. He can even intimidate you, though he probably doesn’t do it on purpose. At 42, Mihnea Virgolici is one of Romania’s mo st well-known equestrian people. His horse farm near Sighisoara, Cross Country Farm, ranks in Lonely Planet’s top recommendations for Europe, and the competition he organizes, Transylvania …

Blond horses and training at liberty

I found out about the Potcoava equestrian center by chance, when I was looking for locations for my monthly horse photography workshops. I had read all the information on their website, but nothing had prepared me for what I was about to find there. The road is winding and full of pits. From the Brebu village, near the Leaota mountains, civilization ends and hills begin. Pastoral landscape, as if in an Alecsandri poem. A narrow, modern road, a few kilometers long, starts from there. A miniature Trans-Alpina. It is the access road to Potcoava, located in the middle of wilderness. …

Behind the scene stories: horse photography workshop at Villa Abbatis Equestrian Center

We knew exactly what we had to do. We installed the electric fence on top of a hill, where we could see the Fagaras Mountains in the background, covered in white. We walked the horses through the improvised manege to make sure they hear the specific noise of the electric fence. We all gathered in the middle and let them go. Four mares. Two laps at full speed. Perfect for taking photos. Manes in the air, fresh green grass. I could hear the rattle of our cameras. We were all smiling from ear to ear. That’s why I had organized …

The Stable Studio

It was almost evening, so I decided to take a few artistic photos on a black background, using studio lights. I had been at Villa Abbatis Equestrian Center for two days and I had become friends with most of the animals at the farm. I closed one of the two entrances of the stable. I arranged the black background and prepared the studio umbrella and the flashes. I needed only a model to photograph. All the horses were carefully looking at me from their stalls. The goats, at least, were dying of curiosity. They were either at the window, to …

Runaway Horses

The day had started well. We finally had sun after much rain. The dogs were running around the yard. Captain Jack, Roxana’s sport horse, was curiously looking out of his window to see what we were doing. Nothing prepared us for the adventures that were to follow. I knew what I had to do. I had arrived at Villa Abbatis Equestrian Center, in the north of Sibiu country, the day before. It was a gloomy, drizzling weather. I was evaluating the place with a critical eye, looking for locations to shoot horses at freedom. The yard and its surroundings seemed …

Mud Party

It was almost noon when the frost finally started to melt. As I was waiting near the paddock, in the Sambata de Jos Stud Farm, the groom brought the third stallion I wanted to photograph. It was a black, shinning Lipizzaner. He raised his feet high when he trotted, as if in parade. I have to admit I felt a little intimidated by this guy when he passed by me. He was so tall and seemed to have so much force. I wandered if my arms were long enough to hug him if he let me. Then he was free …

First Time Out

It was warm in the stable. The horses’ breath and the straws on the ground made up for the -16 Celsius degrees outside. Some little birds were flying inside, carrying food to their nests. As I walked around, admiring some of Romania’s most beautiful Furioso North Star horses in the Rusetu Stud Farm, I noticed a mare put separately in a stall box. She was tall, with reddish-brown hair and a white spot in her forehead. She lifted her head and stared at me. Her eyes were so tender that I instinctively felt the need to go to her. A …

Magda Munteanu