No sooner had my mammoth week at Badminton finished, I received an email from the official photographer at Stonar’s Inter-Schools one day event asking whether I’d be free to help out. Not the first last-minute request I’d had this month to put my camera to use. With my own children fully occupied for the weekend with friends birthday parties I headed off to Melksham with my camera.
Making pictures of horses over such small fences look good can be very tricky, but I was pleasantly surprised how well most of these children rode and this comes across well in the photos. Whilst you inevitably get the typical ‘pony club mother’ dishing out orders and advice from the side lines at these events, as they re-live their youth vicariously through their children, I witnessed some wonderfully touching moments too.
One very nervous mother came and stood next to me as I photographed horses coming through the water fence, armed with her video camera she was willing her daughter on whispering “come on darling, keep coming, that’s it” as her little girl on a solid, safe grey pony came closer and closer. I could see her ‘well-up’ as her daughter disappeared again into the distance and over what must have seemed an impossible looking hedge.
The older children needed little encouragement. Most of them were running round the intro/pre-novice course like experienced professionals making related distances look fast, measured and accurate. If my own children catch the the riding bug in any serious way, I hope they have as much fun as those this weekend at Stonar.
Photographing five or six hundred horses in a weekend is relentless and systematic, so I didn’t really see any of the competition or manage to keep up with any of the results. Photos are almost a prerequisite keep sake for riders at grassroots level, and the tradestand for JP Event photography was overwhelmed judging by my visits back to base.
I was very happy with the photos I took. (see link below) It was great to see so many happy , chatty children browsing through the thousands of photos. This, and the very scenic drive down to Stonar through the Wiltshire countryside alone made the weekend trip worthwhile.