Carina Mac Laughlan is an art photographer whose first book of photographs, Clan of Vagabonds, Confessions of Rebel Horses, sold out instantly. Her second book of equine photos, Clan of Vagabonds, Freed has just been published, perfect for holiday gift-giving.
One could refer to Mac Laughlan as an “accidental” photographer because she arrived at her art form because of her love of horses, it wasn’t her first career choice. She was working as an IT engineer when she first began rescuing stallions that had become difficult to handle for abusive owners and were headed to the slaughterhouse. “Then in 2003, there were too many and I had to reorganize my life, so I left my job and moved,” she says.
Now settled on rural property in Burgundy, France, she is able to care for her horses. “I made the choice to dedicate my entire life to them, we became the clan of vagabonds,” she explains, citing the titles of her books. “I started to photograph these horses to allow them to present themselves and tell their story and how tremendous they really are.”
She had always loved horses since she was a child and knew that all horses aren’t always blessed with a good life. “I was also aware that stallions rarely have a chance of being rescued due to the problems and difficulties they can create,” she says, explain her choice to have a stable of stallions. “It became clear to me that I wanted to help and protect them.”
Mac Laughlan adds that by the time she has rescued a stallion he is usually too old to be safely gelded due to inherent health risks. Currently her clan includes 15 horses and three donkeys (also not gelded for the same reason).
So just how does she manage to maintain the peace with all that equine testosterone? “It’s imperative to offer them an equestrian structure that is truly adapted to their temper and organize a pleasant and safe place for them to live,” she explains. “Knowledge and skills are essential to manage and take care of stallions and limit risks of accidents. Stallions who have suffered violence and abuse, when they revolt and become dangerous, require patience, calm and empathy. Then when they offer their confidence and resilience, it’s important to have a good sense of humour, as they can be full of playfulness!”
Despite her hard work saving horses and caring for them, Mac Laughlan is not an official charitable organization; all the funds she receives come from her own work and profits from the sale of the photographs and books offset the expenses of running her farm.