Horse of the Year Show is a highlight in the Equestrian calendar, and a show that means so much to riders up and down the country. There’s a reason it’s known as ‘The World’s Most Famous Horse Show’ – there really is no other show like it!
For myself on a personal level, it started as a dream to qualify to compete there and I achieved that dream in 2013. Then, as my career as a photographer developed, the dream altered slightly as I thrived to photograph there under press accreditation. This year, I have started to work with more brands as a commercial photographer. And in particular, with Horsequest and Horsequest Advantage, through our mutual sponsored rider Bex Mason. I love to team up with equestrian brands, so when they suggest we collaborate in the run up to and during HOYS, I jumped at the chance.
Funnily enough, before these arrangements were in place, I’d had a holiday booked and was due to arrive back at Bristol Airport just before Midnight on Tuesday 3rd. So after a quick turnaround, I set off for HOYS for the Wednesday and Thursday performances. I’m very lucky to have had both my sponsored riders, Lila Bremner and Bex Mason qualify this year for the first time (Lila in the Pony Newcomer and Foxhunter championships, and Bex in the Senior Newcomer Championship). As Lila’s Dad, Rory said, I “picked my riders well!” considering that when I took them on last Summer as the first two ambassadors for my business, neither of them had ridden at HOYS, and this year they both qualified! This is a testament to the hard work and dedication they’ve put it this year and I can’t think of two riders who deserve it more, especially considering they were both riding horses they’ve produced from the start.
So I arrived at the NEC Genting Arena, was shown to the press office, checked in, then headed down to the Retail village to meet up with Horsequest. I was told they’d upped their tradestand game this year, but WOW… I wasn’t expecting white ‘trees’, a bar with iPads, fluffy seat covers, a photo-booth, LED lighting and free prosecco! It looked absolutely stunning, and I was in my element getting some shots for them. One side was Horsequest based, where you can scroll through horses for sale, and the other side was more focused towards Horsequest Advantage where you can find out more about it, and sign up! For those who aren’t so tech-savvy, you can of course, also find the latest Horsequest ads up in print. You can also keep an eye out for some of the Horsequest advertised horses and ponies competing at HOYS this week!
For those who don’t know about Horsequest Advantage, it is a members only equestrian club, allowing you access to exclusive offers, discounts and giveaways. The beauty of signing up at HOYS, is you can benefit from discounts right away, as a number of Advantage brands are at HOYS this week (Treehouse Sporting Colours, Kate Negus, Haygain, Snuggy Hoods and Equissage to name just a few!)
Wednesday Evening brought us the Senior Newcomers Championship, with our rider Bex Mason competing. Bex qualified David Fudge’s homebred mare, Vancurtis, and this was their first time competing here at the NEC. Bex was drawn second to go and it was great to get some behind-the-scenes shots of her before the class started.
Vancurtis rose to the occasion and jumped a super round. They were very unlucky to have 2 rails down along a tricky combination, but the team were rightfully thrilled with their perfomance round a tough track! Bex finished 14th overall, an amazing achievement from the thousands of first round starters that contest this final.
Thursday was the day of the Pony Newcomers final with our sponsored rider, Lila Bremner competing on her young pony, Lapislazuli. We joke that we’re lucky to have ‘Lappi’ on the team as he’s such a handsome model, and the duo certainly looked a picture warming up in our branded gilet.
Lila and Lappi jumped the most fantastic double clear to finish 5th in a very fast class, against some of the country’s top Junior riders! An unbelievable achievement and so well deserved. We were all so proud to see them in the line up, and wish them the best of luck in the Pony Foxhunter Championship over the weekend.
Thursday evening is a hit for Dressage fans, and we enjoyed a wonderful demo with Carl Hester. It was great to hear him talking about some of his young future stars, and also to have a special appearance from his London Team Gold Medal ride Uthophia, who still looks fantastic at the age of 18.
From one Dressage extravaganza to another, it was then the turn of the Dressage Future Elite class, which saw 8 of the country’s up and coming top horses ‘dance’ to music. It was Charlotte Dujardin and the gorgeous grey mare, Florentina, who took the honours in a competitive class.
Before heading off, we paid a visit to Horsequest Advantage sponsored rider Georgia as she warmed up in the TopSpec arena. Her pony Lisa wasn’t at all phased by the arena, and went on to finish 3rd in her Working Hunter class the next morning! Such a shame we couldn’t be there but what a fantastic result!
As Thursday evening came to a close, it’s back home and another quick turnaround before heading to the NSEA Eventing Championships this weekend. Feeling super proud to have now ticked the box attending as a visitor, a competitor and now an accredited photographer. HOYS have certainly pulled out all the stops this year for their 70th anniversary, and the atmosphere has been electric. Those of you attending over the weekend are in for a real treat! Do also make sure to head over to the Horsequest stand, and sign up for Horsequest Advantage. Members benefit from 15% off of our Photoshoot Packages, amongst other exclusive deals! So make sure to pop in, have a chat with their lovely team, and a glass of bubbly whilst you’re there!
Thank you so much to HOYS and Horsequest for having us!