I didn’t grow up around horses. On the gritty streets of Buffalo, the only animals in my social circle were badass junkyard dogs and scruffy, one-eyed cats. Now I live at the edge of Saratoga Springs, and my country road, five miles from Downtown, is horse heaven. From my back door, I hear the snorts and whinnies of my neighbor’s horses, and when I walk past their corral and into the woods, I always stop by and say hello. Down the road, a pair of white Percherons, mighty draft horses, tall and big-boned, live at Loon Meadow Farm. French knights once rode these majestic mounts into battle, man and beast cloaked in heavy armor, clink-clanking with every step.
Call me a romantic, but it was a beautiful new book of 150 color photographs that spurred my visit to the Percherons. The White Horse (Rizzoli) by Mary McCartney magically captures one year in the life of Alejandro, her beloved white Andalusian stallion. The stunning book, with its introduction by film director and writer Simon Aboud, hits the streets at the tail end of August. Mary, if you haven’t guessed by now, is the daughter of The Beatles’ Paul McCartney and his late wife, Linda, and like her mum, she’s a highly regarded British photographer and passionate animal rights activist. Shot in the Sussex countryside where Mary grew up, the images uncover her private world, the freedom and joy that she feels when she goes riding and the unique personality of Alejandro. Her elegant Spanish stallion is as ethereal as a white horse can be, pictured in fields and forest, by dark and day, in brassy autumn and sultry summer. In a close-up, a wild white mane falls across his face, curtaining a big dark eye. In another, Alejandro’s long white tail, shimmering in the sunlight as it brushes the ground, is a waterfall of snowy hair; in a third, Mary shows off his Rocky-like muscled neck.
But all is not fairy-tale noble and pretty. We also see Alejandro, dirt-smeared and lying on his back, hooves turned up to the sky. And, oh my, there’s a nighttime image that’s pure Blair Witch Project, as a ghostly horse slips through shadowy trees. As for Mary, you might remember her from her father’s first solo album, McCartney. Flip it, and you’ll see a picture of a wee babe peeking out from inside Paul’s fur-lined leather jacket. Linda took that photo of the former Beatle and his little girl. I remember that album. Teenage girls in Buffalo—and every other city on the planet, for that matter—loved that picture of Paul. But now Alejandro’s giving him a run for his money.
Take a look at some exclusive images from McCartney’s book in the photo gallery above.