Photographing The Horse Fishermen Of Belgium

The Horse Fishermen Of Belgium

In September the Draft Horse Journal will be publishing photographs and an article I wrote about the horse fishermen of Belgium (Paardenvissers of Belgium) I photographed them back in late April and wrote the article soon after.

The Draft Horse Journal decided to hold the article for their Work Horse edition which comes out next month. Here is the image that will be on the cover.

I thought I would share with you some of the photographs I took that I took on the April morning and a little bit of information about these amazing men that are not only skilled fishermen but excellent horseman as well.

The two men that I and my husband accompanied that day were Dominique Van Dendriesche a young man in his twenties along with seasoned fisherman Bernard De Bruyne. The two fishermen head to the sea when the tide is just right which is an hour and a half before low tide and they can continue until an hour and half before high tide comes back in which gives them about 4 hours of appropriate time in the water with the horses.

 We left the farm at early dawn with the horses hooked up to a cart containing all the baskets and nets needed for the morning drag for grey shrimp on the sea bottom.  It amazing to watch how well the two horses know the job at hand. When we reach the shore the two men unhook the horses from the cart, with no words or commands the horses walk out of the cart and move over to just the right spot where the nets are laying and ready to be attached to their harness.  All of this is so routine to the horses and the fishermen that it looks almost like a dance.

 Heading Out To Sea

Heading Out To Sea

The fishermen then mount their horses and head out into the sea dragging the nets behind. They begin by going  in one direction for about a half mile before emptying their nets and then return but going out into the sea a bit deeper. This particular morning had the feel of  stormy weather as clouds were building and waves were increasing in size but the two experienced fishermen were not fazed by the ever presence of an on coming storm. They are fishermen first and they were their to do a job.  As horsemen they also understand how horses pick up your energy so remaining calm and confident is necessary to keep the horses from becoming uneasy in the deep waters.

 Sifting Threw The Catch

Sifting Threw The Catch

As Dominique and Bernard bring in their nets of shrimp they then begin to sift through them to throw back any sea life that is not the grey shrimp. It did not take long before many sea gulls began to gather in hope of catching an easy meal.  With storm clouds in the distance and the smell of the salt air along with sea gulls screeching above, you can really feel what being a sea fisherman is all about.

I will never forget this day and the rare opportunity that was offered to us to photograph and interview these amazing fishermen back on that stormy April morning. Not only did I get to photograph two men who truly love their work but it also reminded me of how fortunate I was to have a career that offers opportunities such as this in my life. Each of us with a job to do and loving every minute of it.

 A Calm Horse Is A Most

A Calm Horse Is A Most

You can read the full article in detail in the September issue of the the Draft Horse Journal 

Here is a Horse Fishermen video you may enjoy.


Big Announcement! My husband and I are in the  process of planning a photography tour where we will be your personal host to bring you the "Best Of The Belgian Countryside" being offered for next spring. It will include going to photograph these amazing Horse Fishermen of Belgium.  This is truly going to be a trip of a life time.

For more about the tour sign up below so we can keep you posted as the details come available. 

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