Bramham International Horse Trials is one of the most popular events in the British equestrian calendar, with showing, jumping and eventing to satisfy everbody.
Most event photographers, including ES Photography, the official photographers at Bramham International Horse Trials, do not employ permanent staff, instead they hire freelance equestrian photographers on a day-by-day basis, as they are needed.
In my case I have had the pleasure of photographing this fabulous Yorkshire event for quite a few years, and this prestigious Yorkshire event has become one of my firm favourites.
This year, unusually, I have not been at the event every day, as I had promised the organiser of the Belvoir Hunt Midsummer Ball that I would cover their event before I was booked for Bramham.
On Thursday I was covering the two dressage arenas in the main Equi-Trek Arena. In order to try to get good medium trot images - the "money shot" - we shoot across the two arenas from the side, rather than from end on, as I would if I was only covering a single arena. We also employ two camera bodies in order to keep the images from the two separate arenas, in this case two D4s bodies, one mounted with a 200-400 f/4, the other a 70-200 f/2.8. It is not a perfect situation by any means, as it is very difficult to shoot over the boards in the far arena without being in a raised position.
Dressage continues on Friday but I hand over responsibility to a colleague and head instead to the TopSpec arena to cover the Dubarry Young Event Horse classes. This popular feature, with classes for four and five-year-old, is a qualifier for the final of this series which takes place on the Friday of Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in September each year. Horses perform a dressage test, a round of show jumping and are then assessed on their conformation, type and suitability as an eventer. This year at Bramham, I had the pleasure of photographing the jumping phase which was being judged by Yogi Breisner, a most entertaining and informative person to share the day with.
After returning home to fulfil my commitments to the Belvoir on Saturday I returned to Bramham International Horse Trials on Sunday morning to complete the main CCI3* eventing competitions. The main ring is dedicated to show jumping for the day with the U25 and senior competition final phase jumping rounds being interspersed with National show jumping competitions, including the Wetherby Skips Grand Prix to close the event in style.
In order to get a decent selection of both landscape and portrait images of each rider I chose to shoot from inside the ring, between the fences. This requires a good understanding of the course and timely movements from fence to fence so as not to ever be in the rider's or horse's line of sight. Course Designers and Judges can always be consulted if you are not sure where you should stand, and they will be quick to move you if they don't think you are working safely.
A note here on remote cameras and show jumping. If you plan to leave a remote camera in the ring near a fence you need the course designer's permission to do so. If the event is an international FEI event then you should also consult the Technical Delegate so that he or she can confirm that where you plan to leave the camera is safe. They will generally insist it is there for the whole competition to ensure a level playing field for all competitors.
The CCI Under 25 competition was won by Will Furlong and COLLIEN P 2 despite adding nine penalties. Gina Ruck and REHY TOO were second, Alicia Hawker and CHARLES RR in third. The Senior CCI3* competition was won by Yoshiaki Oiwa and CALLE 44 who jumped a clear round and moved up from third place overnight. Five penalties for Gemma Tattersall and QUICKLOOK V knocked them down a place into second. Sammi Birch and HUNTER VALLEY II also had a pole down and dropped to third.
Bramham International Horse Trials always has a wonderful atmosphere and is definitely one of my favourite events, with good facilities, great ground and very welcoming organisers. I would highly recommend it to anybody who has not visited before.