Show Jumping – The Royal Launceston Show 2017
What does a show jumping event, and a wildlife and nature photographer have in common? If you had asked me that question three days ago, my answer would have been simple. Nothing. I can quite literally count the number of times a human has featured in my images using just my fingers and toes.
Every once in a while, however, life slaps you in the face with an unexpected, yet pleasant surprise. For me, that surprise is show jumping.
Now before any of my mates shake their heads in disbelief, I must emphasise that none of this was intentional. If anyone is to blame for all this, then it’s “Just Cats.” I had two hours at my disposal while Carolyn helped at the cat stall. Rather than sitting on my lily-white ass doing nothing, why not do something I am passionate about…..take photographs!
The fact that those two hours became seven hours. That, I confess, was all my doing. Furthermore, despite my initial reservations, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
As a wildlife photographer, I have had the pleasure of getting up close and personal to a wide range of animals. From great white sharks to snakes, lions, and elephants to mention a few. But in all my years as a photographer, I never had, until this point, photographed a horse.
“My Kingdom For a horse.”
That particular quote from Shakespeare’s Richard III, never really meant much to me personally. All I have ever seen a horse do is walk around a paddock, head down munching grass. Nothing regal about that. At least not when seen through the eyes of the uninitiated. Saturday’s show jumping competition changed all that.
These are indeed magnificent animals. Being able to get so close, to watch every movement, see every muscle twitch combined with the sound of pounding hooves and the scent of trampled grass all made for a memorable day. The excitement seemed almost tangible, filling the air with nervous energy as both horse and rider competed for accolades. If I, someone who doesn’t even understand the sport, could feel that as a spectator, I can only imagine the exhilaration that a rider experiences.
My only regret I suppose is that I know so very little about show jumping. Perhaps it is only possible to truly appreciate the sport once you get a better understanding of the time, training, and skills involved in reaching a particular level.
“For The Love Of The Sport”
I learned that the riders, at this level, compete for little or no financial gain whatsoever. In my opinion, this makes each riders’ dedication to the sport all the more commendable. At least, as a cyclist, I don’t have to feed my “steed” or worry about “vet” bills.
The people involved in show jumping, at least the ones that I met, were not what I expected. Once again, being the bogan that I am, always assumed “horsey” people to be “snooty” and “posh” (I did have other more colourful descriptions, but I am trying to keep this post PG). To all the wonderful people that I met at the show, I would like to give a “huge” thank you.
Thank you for answering all my questions. At least I now know that show jumping horses wear studs, just like rugby players. I also learned that some horses wear ear muffs to muffle sounds. Above all though, I learned that they care for, and love their horses very much.
And that, from an animal lover like myself, has earned my respect (for what it’s worth). And thank you for the privilege of meeting some of your horses, awesome!
…And from a photography point of view…
If anything can be learned from this blog post, then it’s to step out of your comfort zone and experiment. Never could I have imagined that not only would I be photographing show jumping, but that I would be enjoying it too. Don’t label yourself, or compartmentalise to a specific style, or stifle your creativity as a photographer. Learn from every experience, and take each opportunity to practice your skills.
I do however draw the line at wedding photography. If you’re looking for a wedding photographer, I am not your guy.
To all my hardcore mates, if you’re looking for me this weekend…….I’ll be at the show jumping