I don’t usually do a lot of event photography but when I was asked to be the photographer at an all-day clinic with British eventer Ben Hobday, I jumped at the opportunity. I ride western, so eventing is a sport I am not very familiar with or get to witness particularly often. I love equestrian sports in all their shades and colours though and it is so exciting for me that photography gives me the opportunity to witness so many different styles of riding and meet human-horse-teams from all walks (or perhaps better canters?) of life!
The clinic took place at Home Farm Hothorpe, whose amazing outdoor facilities I had already seen in photos. When I arrived, the facilities didn’t disappoint but unfortunately we were blessed with the finest British summer weather: The skies had opened up and it was pouring all day long. Luckily, horse riders don’t mind a wee bit of rain and I had come prepared to protect my gear.
What can I say - I had a fantastic time! Alright, I didn’t necessarily feel my feet by the end of the day, I was drenched and to make matters worse I also had to deal with a last-minute equipment failure. However, it was nothing a hot bath and my purchase warranty couldn’t solve.
I was really impressed with the riding I saw. There were riders of all ages, fearless kids on little ponies alongside experienced adults and not everything always went to plan.
The conditions were atrocious and some horses were not sure what to make of the unfamiliar looking jumps. What I really admired was the grit that I saw. Turning your face into the rain, ignoring the mud when you fall, and finding the balance with your horse again, that is was real equestrianism is all about!
I hope that everyone was able to take something away from the day, no matter how well or badly they felt it went on a personal level. I think everyone can be really proud of themselves.
What I took away for myself is that it doesn’t matter how terrible the weather is or if all my equipment is working perfectly, I can find a solution to it and still create images that I am happy with – and hopefully so will be the participants, when they receive their viewing galleries.
The other thing I took away from this day is that eventing is a fascinating sport but that I am quite happy in my western saddle for now... but I doubt it was my last time watching and photographing it! Eventing takes courage, grit, a spatial awareness that I lack and - like all equestrian sports - years of hard work and training.