“There is not much difference between shooting a portrait of a star and a horse. The secret is always in empathy, in creating a connection with the subject being photographed. Horses, like stars, need to be calmed down, they need time to adapt to the situation and give their best. ” Tony Thorimbert immortalized with his reflex Jennifer Lopez and Willem Dafoe, Giuseppe Tornatore and Alessandro Borghi, Giovanotti and Marcella Jacobs.
Now, after hundreds of portraits, reportage and fashion shoots, the Milanese photographer wanted to reveal the relationship between horses and people in nine shots that will be the heart of the advertising campaign for the 125th edition of Fieracavalli, one of the most important equestrian events on the international scene, scheduled for Verona fair from 9 to 12 November 2023.
Battero Ernesto with his horse from the Maremma M. Doriano, blacksmith Stefano with AC Mirak, groom Lavinia and Ballantins 39, two young riders Nicole and Anastasia with their Ghosts Gotta Diamond and Emperador posing in front of Thorimbert’s lens. Angelo and his Arab Thoroughbred Jasmine Zee, model and equestrian reviewer Isabelle, along with Quinn, show director of Jumping Verona, the only Italian Longines FEI Show Jumping World Cup event, Riccardo Boricchi with his Design de Riverland. Finally, Pietro and Mary, symbols of the Riding in The Blue project, dedicated to assisted therapy with horses for the treatment of young people suffering from autism spectrum disorders.
Tony, how did the collaboration with Fieracavalli start?
“Although I have been into horses for forty years, I had never been to a fair until a few issues ago. I was there on reopening after closing for Covid. Seeing what this means for the equestrian world, I told myself something needs to be done for this event. Thus the idea of portraits was born.
How were the items chosen?
“We were interested not just in depicting horses and riders, but in immortalizing their relationship, the passion that connects people with these animals. And in fact, in not a single photo does the depicted person look at the camera, does not look at his animal.
How did everything go on set?
“Everyone did great, including the horses. Which in our case were real stars, with their animal instincts.
You have an old photo shoot in your portfolio called Urban Cowboy. Can you tell us how he was born?
“It goes back to the 90s. Maybe earlier. At the time, Marlboro advertising campaigns were my passion, with a cowboy smoking a cigarette, and at some point I was one step away from getting the job. Unfortunately, the project came to a standstill, and I created a “homemade” version by photographing a friend from Capalbio who was passionate about the West.”
The Maremma was the foundation of your passion for equestrianism.
“I have always had an inexplicable passion. There are children who, despite living in an urban setting, bond with the horse for mysterious reasons. I was one of them: I came from a small, middle-class family in a suburb of Milan who didn’t really consider riding. At that time, even the real bourgeoisie did not ride horses, maybe only the nobles … When I started working, with the first money, I enjoyed the fact that I learned to stay in the saddle. And it was in Capalbio that I bought a mare, a cross between a maremma and a thoroughbred, who lived with me for thirty years. When she died, I gave up riding motorcycles, my other great passion.”
Will you put your feet back in the stirrups?
“I already did. However, if I used to ride in the countryside, now I like some Western disciplines, such as team penning.”
With your new horse?
“Not yet. But I’m thinking about it.”
What struck you when you returned to riding and discovered Fieacavalli late?
“I discovered how this environment has changed for the better in recent decades. If you remember how horses were tamed when I started … Today, previously ignored knowledge of ethology is widespread at all levels and these wonderful animals are treated with great respect.