Posts Tagged ‘Clydesdales’

Big guns of the horsey world

October 15, 2013

Horse of the year show

Horse of the year show

When Annie suggested I join her lot at the Horse of the Year Show I don’t think she ever thought I’d get accreditation as an official photographer at the LG Arena.  But here I was in Birmingham, official red armband at the ready and just feet away from the creme de la creme of glossy, groomed equine talent. On the way down with Annie’s friend Jackie, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect but the scale of the show, and the atmosphere was really amazing.

We were chiefly there to watch Poppy, aged ten, riding Egypt in the coloured, ridden, non-native pony class (navigating all the categories is tricky) and she did brilliantly. Egypt didn’t put a hoof wrong and Poppy held her nerve through all the required manoeuvres. She didn’t ‘place’ but even being there puts Egypt in the UK top 20 and it was a brilliant experience.Martin clunes

It’s always good to celebrity-spot at these things and it was no surprise to see Martin Clunes enjoying the heavy horses. He famously sent his own Clydesdales, Ronnie and Bruce to hoof camp, describing them as “loveable but uncontrollable teenagers”. It was hugely entertaining watching these giant beasts of burden being paraded around the ring by chaps in bowler hats, with legs flying as they stretched to keep up. They looked almost like ants and one minder was so diminutive he swapped his bowler for a top hat to give him a couple of extra inches.

Horse of the year show

Luma the Lion caused some controversy. Luma was actually a Shetland pony dressed up like a lion, led by a girly gladiator and performing tricks involving a circus style podium, a jump cane and a ring of fake fire. I thought it was harmless fun but Jackie felt it was deeply demeaning for one of Britain’s noble, albeit miniature breeds and I’d say our divide of opinion was reflected across the audience.

Horse of the year show

The pony club team events were a frantic affair with riders flying here there and everywhere and their trusty steeds doing there best to help them mount, dismount and race around obstacles in a flurry of beanbags and other paraphernalia. Everyone was screaming at this bunch of kids, I guess about 10-12 years old as they hurtled round and there were floods of tears and squeals of delight in equal measure as the dust settled and the victors emerged.

Horse of the year show

My personal highlight was probably the Royal Horse Artillery – teams of six perfect horses each pulling a gun weighing several tons with speed and pinpoint accuracy as they delivered a choreographed display with skill, trust and huge commitment. The sheer power was incredible and you could imagine that in battle it would be hard to stand your ground in the face of such a charge. We covered our ears as the guns were fired…I’m guessing not with real canon balls…’elf and safety and all that.

Horse of the year show

So, have I any plans to pursue a new career at Horse and Hound? Well not quite yet but…equine photography does feature on my new website and I am looking forward to more close encounters with these amazing creatures. At this rate I might actually have to invest in some new wellies.

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