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 …

Morning Warm-Up

Nea Costel comes trotting on his semi-heavy mare, Ionela. His large, Russian-style hat and the muffler hide most of his face. He closes his eyes as a gust of wind covers him with snow. The sun is up, but it’s bad weather alert, with -16 Celsius degrees temperature and 60 km/hour wind gusts. I had arrived at Rusetu Stud Farm, in Buzau county, just before dawn. The highway was closed because of the heavy snowfall the previous day. My 4am drive, which started with negotiating the 60cm fresh snow in Bucharest, turned into an adventure in the Baragan Plain.  There, …

Lunch Time

I had just finished photographing four of Romania’s most beautiful Arabian stallions at Mangalia Stud Farm and I was heading towards a well-deserved coffee break, when I saw this image. Around 40 young Arabian mares were aligned, heads down, as if arranged by someone for a photo. Dozens of pigeons were walking in front of them. It was lunch time. The grooms had put piles of hay in front of the mares’ paddock and the pigeons were the uninvited guests at the feast. As I walked by, they started flying around, making noise and blaming me for ruining their meal. …

The Gallop Bet

It was 5.30am when the phone alarm rang. It was still dark outside. My plan was to be at the Sambata de Jos stud farm, in the middle of Romania, just before sunrise. The lake in front of my hut was frozen and a white frost covered the trees around it. I drank my morning coffee and started the 20-minute drive on the icy route to the farm. The entry gate to the 300-Lipizzaner ranch, which is to be included in the UNESCO heritage, was open. The stable men were waiting for me. They knew I wanted to take a …

Horse riding in Kyrgyzstan

In a few seconds I’ll see the meadows of Sarala-Saz. Vast, overwhelmingly green, surrounded by 4,000 meter high mountains. The horse senses my emotion and neighs. We start galloping. Fast. Faster. The wind blows in my hair. Faster. We jump over a ditch. The others are far behind. It’s just me and my horse. And the mountains. In an empty and unknown land in Central Asia. I let the horse run as fast as he can. My legs start shaking. It’s dangerous. It’s beautiful. I can’t stop. I don’t want to stop. This is the moment I’ve been dreaming of …

Esala Perahera elephant festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka

I knew it was a must see. I wouldn’t have missed for the world a parade with more than 100 elephants covered in colored costumes and thousands of dancers, drummers, whip crackers and fire jugglers. All celebrating Buddhist traditions and beliefs I barely knew before going to Sri Lanka.


I arrived at Kandy during the sixth out of the ten-day festival. Quiet afternoon at the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth), where the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha is held. Mahouts walk their four-ton elephants like dogs in the streets. Huge puppies. My head doesn’t even reach the height of their chests.

Guide for dummies: How to sink a boat in 8 easy steps

Step 1: Rent a boat and bring professional crew with you. Make sure they have at least four years of experience as skippers. The sea waters are shallow and you never know what can happen.


Step 2:  Form a solid team, made of young men capable of facing bad weather and unexpected situations. Bring aboard only absolutely necessary stuff such as car keys, smart phones, internet sticks, expensive cameras, money, cards and watches.

Magda Munteanu