“MORE than the money,” said Ben Lee, “you’ve got to do something you enjoy.

“I don’t want to be a millionaire. I just want to be able to live nicely and do something I love to do.”

Ben is originally from Nailsworth in Gloucestershire.

He describes his mother, Gilly, as arty, and late father Philip was a clockmaker. Ben credits each as an immense inspiration.

In addition to having a burgeoning career as a sculptor, he is a specialist craftsman at the Swindon workshop of bespoke metal furniture-maker Tom Faulkner.

Ben came upon his artistic vocation by chance.

“I’ve been doing this since 2016.

“I was getting married, and we are both quite horsey. I’ve been working with horses since I was 12.

“I thought I would make all our centrepieces for the wedding. I got a load of old horse shoes from a local farrier – I’d never picked up a welder or done anything like this before.

“I think Lucy thought I was a bit mad for making our centrepieces because you could pretty much buy them, but I wanted to make them!

“I had a load of horse shoes left over. I had a week off work and just started playing with the welder.

“I put three horse shoes together and just randomly thought, ‘The end of that looks like a horse’s nose.’

“I ended up making a horse’s head; I did it on, say, the Tuesday, and then mounted it on this horrific scaffold tubing.

“The head was great, but the scaffolding looked awful. I thought, ‘How can I make this look better?’

“I started bending the shoes – I just put them in the vice and bent them cold – and made a stem that looked like it came out of the ground and flowed to the horse’s head.

“Then I thought I’d try and sell it, and literally within half an hour I’d sold it.”

Many pieces have sold in the years since. Most have gone to buyers in this country, but some have reached France and Ireland and two crossed the Atlantic.

“I’ve had some dogs go out to America – Georgia. One went to the guy who bought it from me, and he then donated the other dogs to a shooting lodge.

“There were two dogs flushing partridge the first time, and the other two he wanted were flushing two pheasants out for himself. They were German short-haired pointers. He originally had two that he worked, and he lost them.

“The majority of my work is with horse shoes, but it’s all recycled metal.

“I’ve done a life-size Andalusian stallion and that was all out of car parts – scrap bits. That one was based on the customer’s horse.”

If any proof were needed about the realism of Ben’s work, that stallion provided it.

“We have horses here. When I was doing the Andalusian stallion, the horses snorted a bit like dragons when they saw it.”

That, Ben explained, is what horses do when they see another horse and are a little afraid of it. He has also seen flesh-and-blood dogs challenge his metal ones.

The works are pieced together using an arc welder: “I’m self-taught – good old YouTube!

“I very much want to capture the life of the animal and capture the moment, and I like movement.

“I like to show the animal doing something, so that it’s not static.

“A lot of it I picture in my mind.

“For Altior, the one that’s gone to Ascot, I drew the initial outline on the floor, just to make the metal frame. The rest I do by eye.

“I just stand back and try to get the proportions right. For the stags I look at lots of pictures and then try to picture them in my mind.

“I don’t really draw and then go by that, or start with a little model.”

His advice to people contemplating following their own dreams?

“Do it – a hundred percent do it!

“I have high goals that I want to set, way beyond what I think my abilities are.

“I’ve never been the most self-confident person - never got on well at school and always used to doubt myself – whereas with this I finally feel I’ve found something I’m good at, that I love doing.”

Ben welcomes commissions, and can be contacted via www.blsculptures.com or his Facebook and Instagram presences.