On my first ever trip to India, I ended up at a very special place called Dundlod Fort in Rajasthan. It’s a horse stud and stables dedicated to the rare-breed Marwari horse, and run by an incredible Indian man, Bonnie Singh, and his British partner, Francesca Kelly. They’re both real characters - Bonnie always sports a meticulously groomed, pointy moustache, along with old-fashioned khaki jodhpurs and his signature maroon beret; Francesca is equally elegant and amazing. Together they breed and protect these traditional warrior horses, which are famed for their courage, speed and endurance - you can spot them in an instant by how the tips of their ears sweetly curve towards each other.
Historically, Marwari horses excelled on the battlefield, and while it’s a relief they’re no longer needed there, this breed - native to the Marwar region of Rajasthan - has since struggled to survive. Bonnie and Francesca, who have made it their life’s work to save them from extinction, work tirelessly to protect their bloodlines and train them (the horses are renowned for their dancing skills). They also run gorgeous tented safaris to give visitors the chance to experience these majestic, spirited creatures in their homeland. Riding a Marwari horse around Dundlod Fort in the setting sun, with the dust blowing up around me, was a magical, romantic experience that has really stayed with me, and was actually the starting point behind our Marwari horse print, which is based on the large wooden horse statue that stands at the entrance of Dundlod Fort.
Horses have always been important to us as a family. My sisters and I were lucky enough to grow up with ponies at home, and would ride them out from our house, with our dogs trotting along behind. It was all very low-key and natural, and sparked an enduring love and respect for these noble souls. Meanwhile, Rollo’s birthday, on the 9th April, often lands on the day of the Grand National so he has a fabulous collection of great tales from going there as a child. Although I don’t get to ride now, horses will always have a special place in my heart. As soon as I returned from that trip to Rajasthan, I got to my studio and created our dancing Marwari horse print as a linocut - we’ve since digitally printed it onto fabric and wallpaper, and we’ve just released some beautiful olive-green Marwari horse cushions. When you see the horse design printed en masse onto fabric or paper, you really get a sense of these horses dancing in perfect formation; there’s a real energy and spirit that leaps off the print. I can’t think of any corner of a home that wouldn’t be enlivened by their presence.