Well what an exciting event Oasby was! It was my first time staying over for a full 4 days of competition, and I thoroughly enjoyed, a fantastic experience!
We rented a wonderful camper van from Bumble Campers (highly recommended) and arrived at Oasby on Thursday (albeit a little late) but I got straight to work, unpacked my camera and made my way over to the show jumping area, while my boyfriend and Mya got to work setting up the camper.
It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and the sky was blue and clear, I photographed a couple of show jumping rounds before making my way over to the cross country warm up/collecting ring, photographing the riders warming up, preparing for their turn, as well as catching a couple of riders going over the first jump.
I found a spot nicely situated between the collecting ring, the start box, the finish line and the first jump. The finish line is one of my favourite spots to photograph as I like to capture the rider's finishing, usually with big smiles on their faces, patting and praising their horses.
I greeted a few riders that I knew and also approached some new faces. I'm a shy person with social anxiety, so going up to new people to say hello fills me with dread, but I managed to muster up some courage at this event, greeting people, introducing myself and making friends.
After a while I returned to the van for some lunch, I always force myself to take regular breaks, otherwise I can get so caught up in what I'm doing, completely focused on taking pictures, that I forget to eat and drink! Our camper van was parked next to the show jumping warm up area so I could sit, relax and eat while watching the horses, perfect!
After lunch I returned to the show jumping ring with my camera, finding a spot directly in between the warm up and the actual ring, so I could capture both areas.
I then headed out on to the country course, capturing some behind the scenes moments as I passed through the lorry park, a busy area with everyone rushing about, riders and grooms working together to get the horse's ready. This is my favourite place to be, and my favourite to photograph. I always try to be discreet and not distract anyone, as they're all so busy and focused, making sure I'm not getting in the way of anyone.
Cutting through the lorry park I reached an area with about 3 separate jumps in sight, with beautiful scenery in the background. When out on the actual course I always watch at least one horse run the course, so I know where I need to stand, and what route they're going so I don't get trampled! Once I knew where I wanted to be and what angle I set the camera up and began shooting away; horse's galloping past me every couple minutes.
Once I felt happy with the number of photo's I'd taken at that particular place I moved along again, this time to the last fence, capturing a few rider's on route.
When the final rider passed the finish line it was time to pack up, I returned to the van for dinner, took the dog (Ozzie) for a walk and a nosey around the trade stands, greeted some of the BEDE officials and checked on the scoreboard, then back to the van to watch a movie, it wasn't long before we all fell asleep, although it was very cold!
We began the second day by taking an early drive out to a supermarket to grab some essentials, then back to start the day with dressage. Because we'd arrived late the day before I'd not had the chance to catch any of the dressage, most of which are run in the morning, particularly at one day events. So on Friday I was glad to start photographing dressage, one of my favourite because both horse and rider are so immaculately presented, with plaited manes and tails, groomed to perfection, and riders looking smart and elegant.
The dressage warm up area always seems so chaotic, everyone practicing their tests while trying to avoid colliding with other competitors!
The weather was dry and overcast, which is actually my favourite weather to work in, especially when the sky is cloudy and white, a perfect clear background for photographs and no sunlight to contend with.
I spent quite a while taking photo's of the dressage, but after a while I returned to the van for a much needed coffee and some breakfast.
After breakfast I captured some show jumping, then made my way out onto the cross country course. I wanted to capture different fences to the previous day, so I had more variety in my photographs, but I still only managed to cover only one half of the course, nearing the end of the day I was using my tripod as a walking stick!
On Saturday however, rested up and ready for a new day, I ventured further out onto the cross country course, out towards the water jump (always a favourite), and captured the Pony Trials and BE90 competitors. Then following the route of the course back round to the dressage area, capturing riders on route. After spending some time taking photo's of the wonderful young rider's and their ponies, I began to feel very poorly and fatigued.
For those who don't know me personally, I suffer from a chronic pain illness called Fibromyalgia. Sometimes I'm just unable to continue doing what I love, which is never any easy decision to make, admitting defeat. However by Saturday mid-afternoon I could barely walk, so I had to make the tough decision to pack up for the day, take it easy and rest. I returned to the van, and started working away on the laptop. Transferring images, backing up and processing.
Sunday, the last day of Oasby, and I was still feeling a little rubbish, I managed to capture some show jumping as it wasn't far away from the van, I took my little fold-up stool with me so I could sit and take photo's. I managed to get some photo's of the dressage too, the weather was miserable and wet, but I still got some good shots. By 3pm however, unable to physically get out to the cross country course, my illness hindering me terribly and the weather not helping matters either, I waved my little white flag.
Although I was extremely upset to have had to finish early, as soon as we arrived home I was straight onto the laptop, working on all the photo's I had taken over the 4 days.
My favourite part of photography has to be when I send the finished photo's to the riders and hearing their lovely comments and feedback. I was feeling poorly, guilty for quitting and tired, but when I hear those positive reactions it definitely cheers me up, makes me feel more confident and makes me smile :)