Last weekend I had the opportunity to shoot the two-day 'Fiber Fresh International CIC Horse Trial' down at Woodhill Sands, which this time included some international and NZ star riders in the upper levels, going up to CIC (Concours International Combiné) 1-star and 2-star classes. This is a step above what I've previously shot - I've done 1-star and 2-star levels in the national competition, but not international level, and haven't seen these champion and Olympian riders before! The highlight of the day was shooting Blyth Tait and Jock Paget, being in my limited knowledge the top two names in NZ equestrian! There were some other big names including Athens and Beijing Olympian Heelan Tompkins, Athens Olympian Matthew Grayling, and young stars Charlotte Grayling and Lauren Alexander. Apologies to all the other excellent riders not mentioned by name, my equestrian knowledge is still a bit limited! And if you're not interested in my very amateur commentary, you can check out all 3000 images on my equestrian website here!
Woodhill Sands posted a good run down of the day's events on their website here, but suffice to say that Blyth Tait was the big winner, to nobody's surprise. Jock Paget did well also, riding on three different horses in different classes, so I got quite a few shots of him. It's quite common FYI for the professional riders to have several horses at each event, but it must make for a busy day! It was a good competition, and an interesting cross-country course. I'm slowly learning some of my preferred locations to shoot out up on the ridges above Woodhill, but for the top level I chose to shoot down by the last few jumps before the finish line of the cross country.
The showjumping and dressage rounds were another story altogether as the weather was quite windy and rainy on the Saturday afternoon. I stuck it out all day, hiding behind a judges booth between rounds, which gave me just enough time and protection to wipe the raindrops off my lens each time! The top levels were on at the end of the day, in the worst weather - I still managed a good selection of shots for each of them, although they don't seem to show quite how wet the weather (and me, and my camera) were by this time! Luckily the weather sealing of the camera held up pretty well.
Shooting a two-day event is a lot of work, with around 16-18hrs of shooting time and taking around 5500 photos over the weekend, and at least as much time again in front of the computer processing the photos! But I'm definitely getting faster at this part, and it took me a lot less time than my previous two-day event. Which is good because I just agreed to shoot another two-day event next weekend in Kumeu!