SkyLimit Photography | Dressage and Driving

Dressage and Driving

April 12, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Well hello there spring! 
This month began with a morning photographing our sponsored rider, Anna Brown's, yard. We began with a few in hand shots of her beautiful young horse, Freddie, who is just coming back into work after an incredibly unfortunate injury. We decided that the top yard, which featured brick built stables, and a beautiful little collection of trees in the middle would make an excellent location for shooting. Freddie proved to be a total natural at the job, posing himself as if he'd been doing it since the day he was born. The aim of our in hand shots is to show what a loving relationship Anna has with her horses, and it certainly shines through when shooting, the horses always respond well to all of the fuss and attention they receive. After shooting on the top yard, we headed back down to her main yard, the American barn style stables providing a relaxing and airy home for schooling liveries who come to stay, and her own horses. All the horses are stabled according to their individual needs, if one prefers more to be more social, he is put next door to a suitable companion, if a horse needs a quieter, more secluded spot, then he will be put further up the yard away from the arenas, sometimes without a horse directly next door if he prefers space, horses who like more going on tend to be closer to the arena entrances, to keep them entertained. Anna does her best to make sure that every horse has their individual needs catered for, along with the help of her hard working groom, Amy, who makes sure she knows each horse inside out, to provide the best care possible. Between them, the horses are kept in a relaxed routine, revolving around feed times, turnout, and ridden work. 

After the beautiful Freddie, we had a brief in hand shoot with another of Anna's gorgeous horses. The normally compliant Favita really wasn't feeling it this particular day, preferring to stand and go to sleep instead of making herself look alert (Goes to show how relaxed Anna's horses are!). We worked to get a handful of shots, without boring Favita too much, before moving on to Willbury, a handsome young training livery that Anna has in her care to start under saddle. We began with a few ridden shots, Anna working him in slowly before showing him off in front of the camera. During this short time, he put up with the camera clicking away loudly, and myself rolling around on the floor to get the most impressive angles, this was one extremely tolerant young horse! 

Training livery, Willbury. Ridden by Anna Brown
After the ridden shots, I wanted to get some of him stood with Anna on him, so we headed to the top yard. Initially Willbury wasn't sure about being up on this yard, but after walking him around, with Anna gently soothing him, he decided that this yard wasn't so bad after all, the priority during every shoot is that the horse is happy and comfortable, we work around him. We moved around to change location briefly, getting a few different shots, and the change of location assisted in keeping him alert and bright eyed for each photo. This really helps to keep a horse looking his best for a shoot. 

Things don't always go to plan! Willbury telling us that he didn't like the top yard.









In between changing horses, I took the chance to capture a few moments which really showed the calm atmosphere of the yard, moments of peace between Anna and her horses, Amy taking the time to groom and care for all them, a way to really express the feeling of what it's like to be on this lovely yard. 
If I'm being honest, these are my favorite kind of shots, the ones where my subjects don't fully realise that I'm shooting, they often produce the most emotion and I personally feel that this is what my style of photography is all about. 

Amy Tomkins giving Favita a good grooming

March also gave me a very unique opportunity to shoot an equestrian discipline that I never expected to be shooting, I was lucky enough to cover the Chester Horse Driving Trials' final indoor event at Reaseheath College. I tried to research the discipline to the best of my ability to know what to expect, but still felt like I was going in blind. There's a quote from Richard Branson which applies to this situation very well, and I often live by it: 

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

So that's what I did. I learned on the job, and it was a fabulous experience! This was a huge learning curve in the art of driving and how the events were run. It was indeed a challenge as I initially struggled to get the right angles and timing from the places I had to stand, but as a photographer you must work with what you are given. By the end of the day, I had 2000 images to work my way through (Which can be found here), I was exhausted, but had enjoyed a truly unique experience, met some wonderful people, and was working on planning my attendance at some of the summer driving events.
Taken during the obstacles phase of the indoor driving trials

The joy of photography is that you never know what lies around the corner and in what way it may push your abilities, testing both your creativity, your equipment, and push you to solve the ever tricky question of getting the right shots to satisfy both your client, and yourself with potentially limited resources.

As we move into April, I'm setting my sights on yet more dressage, and also assisting the outstandingly talented Steve Wall for a one day event at Lincomb Equestrian, as well as assisting to shoot a spot of polo! Like I said, you never know what's around the corner. 

Stay creative,

Emma :)


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