Ok so I started writing and then didn’t finish about 3 different updates between my last update and now but because I couldn’t finish them they then got outdated so I binned them.
So last time I wrote I was at Badminton and from there I shall continue. Most importantly our bar was ultimately (to start) understocked but we soon rectified that with late arriving guests restocking the Pimms and Lemonade which was definitely the drink of choice for the week. We didn’t drink a bottle a night promise!
I didn’t actually get chance to meet up with Eliza and the ‘Scottish lot’ mainly due to me being in the Media Centre or thereabouts the majority of the day each day and evening but they very kindly left me some Tablet which is oh so very very yummy so thank you and next time we will get chance for a drink! 😀
We also managed to keep up our gazebo record that being that we go through one a year. 2011’s was crashed into by a mystery assailant and 2010’s although surviving Badminton itself committed gazebocide by throwing itself over my garden fence soon after despite being tied down. This year’s gazebo was seemingly a little errr delicate and when the wind picked up on the Saturday it simply buckled at the knees in fear and 3 of the 4 legs were promptly bent beyond salvage so in the bin it went!
In terms of the competition itself wow what an experience, the cross country admittedly I didn’t stray far situating myself at the market place and then the Mitsubishi Hollow later in the day. I chose these fences for a very simple reason great light, plus as a bonus they both had 3 elements allowing for a range of shots and both were big accuracy questions so not ‘boring’ fences.
My favourite shot of the day had to be of Michael Jung’s Sam crossing his legs over the first element of the Mitsubishi Hollow. He actually seemed to do it to a degree over every fence but it was particularly prominent over the rail into the hollow especially as I was positioned to catch him head on.
When Susanna Bordone fell when her horse left a leg it was a bit of a heart in mouth moment especially as from where myself and a few other photographers were sat we couldn’t see her as she landed in the hollow itself. Thankfully after an anxious few minutes Susanna got up and was escorted off course by the medics. A few other riders nearly suffered the same fate when their horses left a leg but somehow they got the landing gear out in time so preventing a fall, it was quite illustrative though how several horses on spotting the hollow forgot about their legs!
I must say even at 4* level as someone completely non qualified there is a very apparent difference in the level of riding and horse power on display. Andrew Nicholson and William Fox-Pitt were two that on both horses came through making it look easy. Vittoria Pannizon’s Penny is just superb, although at times could almost do with jumping a little less height wise if only to save time and energy not that she looked in anyway tired the next day. Nicolas Astier really impressed me with the way I saw him ride throughout the competition. There are many others as well who rode particularly well but those are the ones that stood out for me. I must say on the Sunday I felt rather special with my fluorescent orange photographer’s bib which clashed quite beautifully with my e-Venting jacket, being allowed to sit the other side of the ropes to get an uninterrupted view was near heavenly, well other than when another photographer came along and sat in my way but professional etiquette dictates you shouldn’t move in the way of someone there first so they were all politely asked to move which they did 😉
On the Monday I became even more privileged and was given opportunity to sit in the main arena for the top 20 showjumping rounds. A limited number from those photographers that requested access were assigned an area within the arena, mine being the top corner where once again I was blessed with almost perfect light. Also once the jumping was finished we were able to move forward for the prize giving as well.
I will admit now having watched the trot up and seen why Clifton promise was sent to the holding box I did state I would be surprised if he jumped clear to the point I would eat my hat. But he did and thankfully I wasn’t wearing a hat as otherwise I would have had an extra meal! Also not only did he jump clear he jumped an exceptional one and there wasn’t a hint of an issue with him when he did which confirms why the vet and ground jury are in charge of who goes through and not us spectators! 😉 Ultimately the horse doesn’t need to be 100% sound but the vet has to be happy that a round of showjumping will not cause further issue. It is often the case that after a night stabled even with walking/exercise prior to the trot up a horse that ran late in the day will still be sore but given a few more hours to free up its muscles will be fine by afternoon which was I suspect the case with Clifton Promise.
After Jock had jumped clear I got this strong feeling that he was going to win and said as such to the other photographers round me, As Michael jumped round this seemed to be less and less likely and over the last he jumped and the crowd roared thinking he was clear, but I had a clear line of sight to the last and saw that top pole just slowly fall out the cup meaning Jock had done it, he had won. No one predicted it but he was more than a worthy winner being in the mix from the beginning. When I mean no one predicted it the entire media centre entered a prize draw choosing the winner, no one, not one single person picked Jock. It’s not that no one thought him a worthy winner but more that other combinations (Michael, William, Andrew) seemed more likely winners when choosing before the end of dressage.
The prize giving followed where it was rather emotional to see three eventing greats in the form of Inonothing, Headley Britannia and Lenamore retired. You could see with all three and Lucinda especially just what a close bond she has with Brit who is most definitely more than just a horse to her.
Afterwards it was a quick dash back to the media centre to upload just a couple photos of Jock and for the press conference. I will admit to being cheeky and asking Michael if he regretted having Jock for training over the winter, he took it in good humour replying next time he will go to Jock for training!
We then packed up our camp site in record quick time and we were all VERY thankful it was dry for folding up the tent and were then on our way back home, and guess what yes on getting home I started sorting through photos, an awful lot of photos. I should mention how very very impressed we were by our cool box. At the beginning of the week it was filled with ice, come Monday it STILL had ice a full 6 days later!
I had hoped to have sorted through more photos by now but other things have had to take precedence namely a proper website for my photography as I am now officially a semi professional photographer. I am still doing the normal day job (for now!) but utilising my weekends and evenings to work self employed and this weekend I am the official tog at my first equestrian event a small hunt SJ show in Somerset, so if you’re there please buy my photos. The site isn’t quite ready to go live but it will be by this weekend as I intend to have all photos online within 24hours, actually will need to be less than that as the Sunday I’m helping at my RC’s ODE, I had considered entering but thought that would be somewhat mad/brave considering I will be in Somerset all the previous day!
Pony wise Fleur fingers crossed is working well, we are putting the tweak down to a particularly heavy season she had that week. I’ve ridden her 4 times now this week quietly long and low stretching so now just need to work her up to schooling and check that the tightness doesn’t return. She is also doing her daily carrot stretches and we are entered up for the Novice at Pontispool so all things going to plan that will be our next event.
Oki I was having a few saddle issues with because as she is building top line the saddle was sliding forward on to shoulders which caused her to understandably cramp up. I tried a collection of different pads and the winner seems to be a good old front riser which seems to be doing the trick nicely! Getting on for the first time since Badminton I thought myself brave as we had strong winds and she was very heavily in season and I prefer not to lunge and just get straight on, but hey she still likes to surprise me 😉 Yes a bit tense/excited at first meaning we started with some lovely jogging but soon settled down and produced some lovely work. Pad obviously making her a lot more comfortable with correct strike offs every time without question and just feeling a lot happier through her frame. I think I have also found her first outing as well in a couple of weeks. I have the choice between two dressage venues, one is even in hacking distance both lovely and low key so perfect for her, shame they are both the same weekend! It has taken nearly twice as long as I wanted but life has got in the way which is blooming inconsiderate of it 😉