Teamwork, appreciation & results

Wow, singularly the most boring title in the history of titles, and pretty much stating the obvious.

So what’s this all about ? Well lets set the scene…

On Thursday 18 September 2014, I jumped in my car and drove 340km to the neighboring City of Port Elizabeth. The purpose of this road trip was two fold.

1. Address the camera club at the Collegiate school for girls (Future blog material I think)

2. Photograph the Port Elizabeth Riding Clubs Spring Show … (Oh you noticed I take photos ? well done)

So lets look at Item 2, Equine shows differ from from any other sport I know of. The levels of ‘teamwork’ are numerous.


As a rider, first and foremost you need a reliable team mate in the form of a horse or pony, or you are heading for a very quick fall. This human / horse team then rely on a support team of family, friends, possibly a groom and generally a coach.
This team in turn is often part of a given stable yard, because people love belonging to groups that compete with other groups. However they often find themselves pitted against their stable yard team mates…

Now as show photographer, for the most part I am ‘Switzerland’. I don’t pick sides, I don’t show preference, I treat all as equal. However I also am in a position to see (and often hear) everything that goes on in that arena. I see the good, the bad and the ugly. It goes with the territory.
Because I am human (apparently I am ?) I am drawn more to riders who have good horse sense, who ride with empathy and understanding of what there team mate (who never asked for the job I might add) goes through on their behalf.

Kelly-51843I don’t necessarily salivate over the perfect jumping position, style or technique… I prefer to see a bond of understanding and … well appreciation.

Enter this young lady and her two ponies that she jumps. The first time I saw them in action she bowled me over. No not by riding over me, although that would make a great story too, but by displaying the qualities I mentioned above..
She rides pretty well, and in fact at this last show got some really good results, but what moved me were her actions after completing a round. Not content with a simple pat on the horses neck, or a murmured ‘Well done’ oh no, this young lady gives the pony a bit of freedom to enjoy a job well done, and also gives herself to the horse completely ( about the best way I can put it )
Huge amount of praise and affection is passed to the pony, and watching the ponies respond you know that they ‘get it’ , they are left in no doubt that she is happy with them.

Kelly-50529I would like to think that this show of appreciation motivates them to perform better, I don’t know enough about horse psychology to claim it would. But certainly most animals will keep doing things that result in a positive outcome šŸ™‚ so… maybe it does



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