In the very moment the arresting chestnut mare came trotting into Louise Ferro Martin’s field of vision, the search was over.
As quickly as she knows a great photograph when she’s taken one, the amateur horse photographer knew that the 19th horse she had looked at was in fact her horse.
It was 23 years ago and as she says, “I had been looking for a while and I’d learned to ask all the right questions and look them over carefully. But with Deena, as soon as I saw the dealer ride into the ring on her, I said, ‘That’s the one.’
“I didn’t even look at her feet!”
In spite of that small oversight, the pair went on to face the challenges of riding, as a team. From one of their first trail rides together, which resulted in a spook followed by a hell-bent-for-election race back to the barn, Martin clinging on for dear life, to years and years of brilliant rides, Deena taught Martin to “sit quietly and be quiet with my hands.”
Race name: Double Ego
New name: Deena
Sire: Con Man
Dam: Double Action
Dam’s sire: Count Amber
Foal date: May 31, 1983
She started riding lessons at 30, finally giving into a fascination with horses that probably began at the track, where she made frequent visits with her Dad.
Deena was just off the track and Martin was a green rider when they met. Now the Thoroughbred is 28, long retired, and Martin is drawing on the years of experiences to fuel her own second career, as a photographer.
A retired salesperson, Martin took up photography only about a year ago. Drawing on her background as a painter of watercolors and oils, and with Deena as her muse, she approaches her work with fine arts skill.
Admirers who have purchased her works say she captures a feeling around an equine that tells a story in every scene.
A dozen of which are beautifully displayed in a calendar she has created and will make available for sale in 2012. Titled “Rescue Me,” the calendar portrays the happy side of horseracing, from foaling to race training, to tranquil retirement.
Martin is attempting to raise $2,000 in sponsorships to fund publication of 100 calendars. She is offering advertisement placement in the calendar, and has already attracted a few Pennsylvania businesses.
Her goal is to sell each calendar for $20, and donate the proceeds to the MidAtlantic Horse Rescue in Chesepeake City, Md. It is at this rescue where she photographed her cover shot, a horse named Jupiter.
“He was on his way into the paddock and he stopped and looked at me over his shoulder. It was as if he was saying, ‘Rescue me.’ ”
In that moment, like in the split second when she first met Deena, she was inspired to do something for the horses who fall between the cracks.
“Most people, when they think of horseracing, think of Zenyatta and the Kentucky Derby,” she says. “But there are so many others who try just as hard, but they just never make it.”
It is for the horses nobody remembers that Martin roams the horse country of Pennsylvania to capture the grandeur of an ex-racehorse with her lens.