Updated: May 21
Hlayyil Ramadan, Kehilan Ajuz strain, from Kamar El Zaman by Haboob, b. 1996
This portrait is of the magnificent stallion Hlayyil Ramadan, the 2006 World Arabian Horse champion, born and bred in Jordan and the jewel in the eye of HRH Princess Alia Al-Hussein who manages the Royal Jordanian Stud.
In 2007 I travelled from Sweden, where I was living at the time, to Jordan, to start a new photographic project: studio portraits of the purebred Arabian horse. I had grown up in Jordan, I knew my way around and I had a few friendly contacts who would help me in locating some of the most beautiful Arabian horses in the world. It actually turned out to be easier than I had anticipated. When I contacted various Jordanian horse owners, true to the reputation of the region, they were warm and hospitable, and welcomed me to their stables where they bred some truly splendid horses. Thus I started my project.
The Royal Jordanian Stud - grazing mares and stables area
Encouraged by the results that I was getting, I decided to also approach Princess Alia to ask if I could photograph at the Royal Jordanian Stud. I knew that she would be visiting the place on a certain day, so I took some print examples of the horse portraits that I was doing and I went there with the hope of finding her - which I did. The Princess was delighted that I was interested in her horses and welcomed me with open arms, and kindly asked her staff to aid me as needed. A few days later, I arrived with cameras, lights and backdrops to photograph the horses.
Hlayyil Ramadan before the shoot and relaxing in his paddock afterwards
That year and the following year when I returned to continue with the project, I was was able to photograph some of the Stud’s best horses, including the stallions Shamekh Al-Shaqab, Haleem, Monarcos and, of course, Hlayyil Ramadan, the star of the place. The grace and beauty of Hlayyil captivated me, as did his strength and power. He was clearly an intelligent horse, aware of his status, yet he allowed himself to be playful and cheeky at times with his human handlers.
Hlayyil when led out onto the set and with some of his handlers
The final portrait that I was able to make of Hlayyil Ramadan, shown above at the very top, was captured during my second visit in 2008. After several minutes of fooling around on the set, the magnificent stallion lifted himself up and gracefully posed for the camera. I think I was able to capture a part of what makes him the special horse that he is.
I am grateful to Princess Alia for encouraging and later supporting my project of photographing Arabian horses. And, of course, I must thank the magnificent Hlayyil Ramadan!
Limited edition prints are available from my online print shop.