Blazing Saddles with Leon Foggitt

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Credit: Leon Foggitt ID: Back of mens heads in the foreground from a wagon that is being pulled along by a horse. Along the road more hoses and cowboys are along the road.
Credit: Leon Foggitt ID: A heard of horses gather.

Once a year, in the dusty beaten plains of Almonte, Southern Spain a tradition over 500 years old takes place. Proud cowboys saddle up, squint under the beating summer sun and ride across the landscape, looking for their prize. The prize itself, over 1,000 horses which are owned by the men yet live freely in the wild spaces of Almonte’s national park. 

This tradition allows the men to connect with one another at their camps in the evenings, drinking, playing guitars and singing songs, setting scenes which jump our brains to imagery from classic westerns. Documentary photographer Foggitt took part in one of their round ups in his project titled Yeguerizos - The Horsemen of Almonte.

Credit: Leon Foggitt ID: A saddle of a cowboys horse. A roll mat at the back and a plastic wine glass is strapped to the saddle.

Horses play a huge part of day to day life, Foggitt explains how the bars themselves are the same height as a horses mounted saddle, so you can enjoy your cool beverage without leaving your trusty steeds back. This connection to animals and landscape is one to be celebrated, which is felt within Foggitt’s photographs which themselves feel like an open love letter to tradition and a level of respect for this way of life, and those who keep it alive. We see young and old men, horses charging towards the camera, men laying on the earth together tired from what can be back breaking work. These photographs feel not only a documentation of tradition, but a celebration of it, with warmth and respect bouncing from image to image. 

The purpose of this great ride out to find all of the men's horses isn’t just to have a good time with your friends on horseback. All of the horses once herded up are led back into town and rushed through the streets as locals clap and celebrate the sight of 1000 horses thundering past their homes. Once the applause dies down, the horses are either branded according to who owns them, manes are cut back and some are sold to those who wish to purchase. When all business is done, the horses are led back into the wilds, left safe to graze and live until the next round up begins in a years time. 

Credit: Leon Fogitt ID: A cowboy sits upon a horse on a dusty track. They have a large stick which is warmly resting in the cowboys hand and reaches the dirty track.
Credit: Leon Foggitt ID: A group of cowboys sleep on their blankets in the mid day sun. One is using a hat to cover their face from the sun.
Credit: Leon Foggitt ID: A young man holds onto a stick. They are wearing a grey top with blue jeans in a golden lit field.

See more of Leon's work here -