Anna Rainbow Photography: Blog en-us (C) Anna Rainbow Photography (Anna Rainbow Photography) Fri, 26 Jan 2018 18:11:00 GMT Fri, 26 Jan 2018 18:11:00 GMT Anna Rainbow Photography: Blog 80 120 Sunny – a very special guide dog After two years of waiting, Sunny a four year old yellow lab, was introduced to her new owner Harvey in 2017 as his guide dog. She’d had a difficult few months having originally been placed with another partially sighted lady, it became evident that she wasn’t well enough to look after Sunny, so the dog was taken back to live with her original trainer.

When she was then matched with Harvey, Sunny arrived unharnessed and took to Harvey very quickly. Much of this was down to the fact that Harvey has bred Labradors for many years, so his affinity with the breed is very strong. The support from Guide Dogs for the Blind is vital in these early days, making sure that dog and handler create a good bond. Six months on this bond is clear to see.

Any potential guide dog is bred very carefully. Even before they are fully weaned the breeder starts their acclimatisation to the job they will do later in life and they are then placed with a puppy walker for a year or so. This time is in part fun, but there is some particular teaching that is incorporated too. Next they go to be trained to become a fully fledged guide dog (not every dog makes the grade). And such special training it is. Looking at Sunny, she is as any young Lab should be – cheery, welcoming, bouncy and if there’s a little food about she’s your very best find. However, the minute Harvey appears with her lead and harness, she changes. All the jumping stops and she stands stock still while her harness is attached and set, and her lead attached. One reason this is so important is Harvey has just 20% vision in only one eye, so if Sunny was to move, it would be far more of a challenge to get ready to go out. As it is, getting ready to go, takes no time, but the steadiness is now very evident.

As Harvey opens the door of his Wiltshire home, Sunny will always be between him and the door, thus ensuing he doesn’t walk into it or her lead/harness hooked up. Step outside and she’s told to stay as Harvey collects his stick.  She doesn’t sit, but stands exactly where he left her with her harness down and the lead on her back. Once Harvey is ready, a one word command ‘forward’ and she’s off – at his pace – until they get to the road. She’s very aware if there’s a car coming and will the coast clear, she sets off. Had a car been coming she would have waited; likewise, if they are walking along a road, a path or pavement and a vehicle or bicycle comes towards them, Sunny will stop. She won’t move sideways as this would unbalance Harvey. Once the car/cycle has gone, she will move on. There are two types of walk – lead and harness. Walking on the lead allows her sniff about and if necessary stop to wee etc. Walking on the harness is when she is working and unless desperate for a wee, she won’t step away from Harvey’s side. When I met them, Sunny was principally just on the lead, with the exception of crossing the road.

Other amazing things, Sunny and many other guide dogs like her do, seem inbuilt as they appear totally intuitive, but show how intelligent these dogs are. Going downstairs, Sunny will travel at Harvey’s pace and after three steps, stop sideways in front of him, look back, check he’s balanced and ready to do the next three all the way to the bottom. When at home relaxing, she has half an eye on Harvey, even when asleep as she will regularly lie at his feet with her head resting on his foot, so if he gets up, she knows and will follow him about the house, just in case he might need her for something.

Sunny has some other special tricks up her sleeve; they are for the next edition about her London life.

]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) guide dog sunny yellow labrador Fri, 26 Jan 2018 11:54:14 GMT
Behind the scenes with equine manual therapist Louise Mauferon Vernet As part of a great collaboration idea, I met equine manual therapist Louise Mauferon Vernet on site at her client Jan to capture her ‘on film’ treating Jan’s two very special boys Ben and Bo.

French born Louise is on the Register of Animal Musculoskeletal Practitioners, putting her right at the top of the profession. She studied equine, cranial and visceral osteopathy for five years in Brighton before setting out as a freelance therapist treating both horses and dogs.

Based in East Sussex, Louise treats her equine clients across much of the south east, often spending 90 minutes with each to ensure maximum benefit from each treatment. I met her at a yard in Surrey where Jan keeps Ben and Bo. They live out all year round with a small herd, and to attract their attention, Jan uses a whistle. Ben was in sight when we arrived and happy to follow Jan across the field for a nibble. Bo was ‘hiding’ while Louise treated Ben but soon reappeared when he heard Jan’s ‘call’. The benefit of this is that she doesn’t get mobbed by a dozen other horses!

Louise started her session on Ben, a nine year old 15hh Welsh Section D. He’d had a bad start in life, rescued initially at about five, gelded and backed.  He went on to be quite successful at dressage and rosettes were a plenty. However, as a result of nasty kick to his chest, he retired from competing and Jan now has him on loan. He’s not been ridden for a couple of years, in part because he’s been uncomfortable, particularly in his left hind, Louise thinks as a result of being gelded badly and Jan has worked hard to gain his trust as well as build his confidence.

Ben can be quite gobby still – Jan describes him as nine going on two – so will walk off when he thinks he’s stood long enough, but a little persuasion brings him back to us and Louise continues. Much of this session is very gentle manipulation, with Louise laying her hands on Ben to check all his muscles, palpating as required and watching for any restricted movement.  All the while she talks to Jan explaining what she doing as she does it. It’s so clear from Ben’s face that he really enjoys his sessions and is now physically well which is very rewarding to see.

Next up, Bo or Mr Bojangles, a very different horse altogether.  Jan has owned Beau since he was five, purchasing him for her daughter to compete on. However, it soon became evident that Bo was very troubled and began to behave quite unpredictably. After some veterinary intervention, it transpired he was suffering from a back injury that was causing him discomfort and stress. With much patience Jan and her daughter have nurtured this little horse for almost 17 years and although he is now ‘an expensive ornament’, he does respond to her kindness.

Bo has always been very reticent when it comes to physical intervention so Louise has to take her time when working with him as unlike Ben, she can’t tell him to let her treat him, she has to ask. While most of the time, he relaxes into the moment, he does occasionally just say no, move away and Louise has to wait. So it’s full credit to Louise that he does allow her to treat him at all. To prove a point during our session, Bo moved out of reach, opting instead to work out an itchy wither under a tree branch. He took some persuading to join us again! However, once he allowed Louise to continue, he really relaxed for several minutes, a real bonus and one that she decided not to exploit for more time than she felt necessary, ending on a good note. It’s a relief to Jan that he is now far more accepting of Louise and her methodology, so she knows that he can continue to be comfortable as he grows older.

A huge thank you to both Jan and Louise for allowing me to follow their afternoon session.

]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) equine manual therapist louise mauferon vernet register of animal musculoskeletal practioners Mon, 08 Jan 2018 18:15:00 GMT
“I bought the photo, so it’s mine – right?” No … Just because you bought a physical copy of an image does not mean that you can use it as you might want because, in legal terms, you are not the owner of the image copyright. And just to be clear, copyright of any artwork remains with its original creator for 70 years after the creator’s death; almost a generation.

While this post doesn’t go into minute legal detail, I hope the points outlined below will help when it comes to knowing what you can and cannot do with the images you purchase whether they are digital or physical. The legal aspect is complicated and changed quite significantly when the current Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA) came into force on 1 August 1989. This piece is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding the minefield that is image copyright.

Leaving aside digitally created graphics, copyright, in most circumstances, belongs to the originator – whether a photograph or artwork – and while copyright can be transferred, sold or have permitted use under licence, it’s important to understand the basics. 

You purchase a print at an equestrian event and want to share it with friends via social media when you get home – that’s a no, no. The picture’s copyright belongs to the photographer who took it, not you the purchaser, so making a copy (by taking a snap on your mobile for instance) and putting up on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp or Snap Chat is an infringement of copyright. However, for a small additional fee, you can almost always purchase a digital image of the same photograph, which you can, in most circumstances use on your own social media feeds. And many photographers, if you ask them, may well be happy for you to share the print (given you’ve purchased it) and just request that you credit them for taking it.

Another no, no is browsing a photographer’s website, finding pictures you like, taking a screenshot and sharing them on your social media pages - with or without a watermark.  The same applies for saving images a photographer has added to their social media pages, copying them and posting them on your own feed. While in some small way it’s flattering that you like them, the time and effort put in by a photographer in taking the pictures in the first place (and at an event there’s rarely payment for taking pictures even if a photographer is on site from 8.00am-6.00pm), editing and uploading them, makes it a soul-destroying task to effectively see their images stolen – call it shoplifting if you like.

What is quite acceptable is to share images of yourself and others that you see on the photographer’s Facebook or other social media platforms.  You can also tag others along the way. For a photographer taking pictures at a public event, it’s unlikely they will know who was there, so if you see yourself or your friends in posted images, sharing them is helpful to both sides and avoids the issue of copyright infringement.

Want to go under the radar and hope you aren’t noticed? Loads of people do, on the basis that social media moves so fast, the photographer won’t spot it if you save an image and repost it somewhere else.  Nowadays, photographers are very quick to spot their images and know only too well if they’ve been ‘illegally’ posted. This can be the watermark positioning, having a watermark visible at all or knowing the watermark has been cropped out to try and get around being spotted. The whole purpose of blasting a watermark across images is so it’s obvious they haven’t been purchased. Bought digital images won’t have a watermark on them (albeit they are not copyright free)

Using bought digital images for advertising is happening more a lot too, but when you buy an image it will be for personal use only.  If you then want to use that image to sell your horse, the polite thing to do is contact the photographer and ask permission – they don’t bite and would rarely say ‘no’ if as it’s a one-off ad. 

If, however, you want to use purchased images to advertise your business, then you need to have permission to use those images under licence. And for this you need to pay. How much you’ll to pay will depend on the use you have in mind for them, but make contacting the photographer a priority and not an after thought once you’ve posted them. You may think ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’. After all the photographer may not spot it. But if they don’t someone who knows them will. 

You may be politely asked to remove the ad. Equally, you may receive an invoice for the image’s commercial use (which will be higher than if you’d asked originally). And if you don’t pay, the photographer is well within their right to go to the small claims court to recover the money. The result is bad for everyone, not least for you who will have a court judgement made against you, but also the photographer who will have had to spend many hours to get very little recompense.

The upshot of all these points is hopefully to educate, not alienate! I’d like to think that us merry band of photographers are here to help and build respect among those that like what we do. 

Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions –

]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) copyright digital legal issues photography print Thu, 30 Nov 2017 19:00:00 GMT
Maddie and Rooney Qualify for Winter Regionals It's been a busy week for sponsored rider Maddie O'Carroll and the gorgeous Rooney.

Not only did Maddie turn 21 on the 1st November, she also qualified for the Winter Regional finals taking place at the end of February 2018 with her beautiful test to music.  In a big class, the pair were third, less than 2% behind second place - so huge congratulations.

What is so lovely to watch is how this partnership puts movements to music, seemingly effortlessly matching the pace with the chosen musical composition. Within the remit of compulsory movements, the test can be choreographed to show Rooney off at his best.  Once again they worked in absolute harmony finishing in a beautiful square halt as the last note played.

And qualifying isn't just one score at one competition. To get to the Winter Regionals the pair have to have achieved two scores higher than 66%, so achieving 68.85% was more than good enough on top their previous 68% in another tough competition at Hartpury in August - and that came after scoring a brilliant 73% in their dressage to music the previous day!

Credit too to Rooney, who at 19 shows little sign of slowing down.  He's also had a busy few days, travelling down from Cirencester to home in Farnham to prepare for this week's competition and then back again immediately afterwards. But he's a seasoned traveller and very chilled. So long as he's rewarded with lots of sugar lumps, a Polo or two, haylage and lots of love and attention from all his human handlers, he takes travelling in his stride and is now settled back at his university home for a few more weeks before the end of term.



]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) british dressage dressage to music wellington riding winter regional qualifier Wed, 08 Nov 2017 18:20:22 GMT
Storm Brian, product testing and a winter qualifer A week ago Storm Brian certainly made his presence felt across the South coast. The warnings leading up to Saturday were pretty accurate and yellow weather alerts meant anyone planning a day out needed to take appropriate care.  I was one of those committed to work that day, photographing the Hampshire Rural Riding Club's Area 17 Dressage Qualifier at Crofton Equestrian Centre in Fareham.

Making sure I was prepared for both wind and rain, I dug out my Op Tech rain sleeve for one camera and recently purchased a Mudder 2-stage rain cover to ensure that both cameras had adequate protection from whatever Storm Brian would throw at them during the day. He didn't disappoint! While the early morning was quite deceiving, by 9.00am, the rain clouds were looking ominous and the wind was certainly in evidence.

I set one camera up with the Op Tech easily enough, but my Canon 5D mrkiii needed the bigger protective sleeve and it wasn't easy.  Covering the lens was simple enough, but ensuring the body was fully protected needed a lot more work.  The cover itself is robust and it is waterproof, but there's an assumption that no camera strap is in place as there's no strap holes although there is a good zip on the base should you wish to use a tripod or mono pod. That meant dismantling my camera strap, taking it out of the arm holes and reattaching it.  The result wasn't great and I spent much of the day undoing and doing up the base zip so I could get access to the LCD screen. I so liked the idea of having a robust waterproof cover that could protect my prized camera and 70-200 lens, but I was disappointed and even frustrated given the battle against the elements. On the other hand, while I'd had reservations about the Op Tech sleeve, it kept my camera and lens dry and while I wasn't using it, the camera was still safe with no rain penetration.

Having fought with the Mudder-2, I still had to ensure that I was both dry and not too cold (I daren't say warm as that takes a lot). Layers and layers I took and for the most part it worked, particularly my lightweight Musto and QUBA coats which kept the wind and rain out. But in all honestly, preparing both yourself and your equipment to work in whatever the British weather delivers is so important. Ensuring not only your camera, but batteries and CF/SD cards are all safe from the elements, makes for an added level of complication that you ignore at your peril. 

As it happened, while the wind was everything the forecast predicted, the rain was less intense which was a bonus!  However, the wind played havoc with the timing as about 30% of competitors didn't feel they wanted to risk travelling their equine partners for a six minute dressage test.  Those that did come, did brilliantly well, particularly when their horses encountered dressage boards floating across the arena mid test.  More than once well-pegged boards were picked up by the 45mph gusts and scattered where the wind left them.  Amazingly the horses didn't panic, they just suspended their test while judges, writers, stewards and friends realigned and pinned the boards back in place and continued their test where they left off. In all of this the junior competitors had the benefit of performing in the indoor arena, a bonus at any level!

Credit has to be given to the few riders and their horses who jumped on an early ferry from the Isle of Wight to compete.  None seemed to be affected by a blustery journey over and completed their tests in some of most testing weather of the day.

For me, I was lucky to be able to retreat to the indoor arena when the rain was horizontal, but with three arenas to cover and a difficult timetable to follow, I braved the wind, rain and at times some very harsh sunlight for six hours.  Looking now at some of the images, it's difficult to visualise just how wet, blustery and bright the day really was, but I was grateful, more than once, that I had a solid fence to use as a brace to take photos!


]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) area qualifier dressage hampshire photography musto quba storm brian Sat, 28 Oct 2017 08:00:00 GMT
Why I got a professional to ride H at his first horse trials Having owned my horse, H, for nearly two years and brought him on slowly from a clumsy, unbalanced five year old to something resembling respectable performer, now came the time to up the ask and take him to his first horse trials. While I've show jumped and hunted him as well as spent many hours in a school, I wanted his first experience of doing all three disciplines in one day to be a positive one. Based on this forethought, I knew that I wasn't the right person to ride him. In part because my nerves get the better of me watching, let alone riding, but also while I've ridden all my life, it's many decades since I've been eventing.

Who should ride was a much easier decision! Event rider Katy Dziedzic has ridden H before and both she and her mother Ingrid, who run Klass Equestrian instructing and competing across the South, have taught both us so I asked Katy if she would take H round Tweseldown's unaffiliated pre-intro course. Preparation went according to plan. More fitness work, a couple of days' hunting, physio and quite a lot of pampering. A pre-event schooling session for Katy and H also went well, so we were all set. But it's amazing how doubts creep in. I began to think H wasn't fit enough.  He seemed quieter than normal, almost too well behaved, but I didn't want change anything so close to an event.

I needn't have worried! He breezed through Storm Brian, not fazed by the wind and rain, nor did he over react to having a bath and his mane bunched ready for plaiting 48 hours ahead of time. Such a cool dude, who possibly thought he was off for a day following hounds. 

We got to Tweseldown in good time, tacked up, studs in (another first) and Katy set off to warm up for her dressage test. As she did so, the local blood hounds spoke up and H was convinced a day of speed and jumping with his horsey mates were on the cards, so when Katy asked him to focus on a dressage test warm-up, he set about being his most belligerent. He just couldn't see why he should bring his head back from the sky (no martingale didn't help), but he did momentarily and then completely lost it, leaping upwards, losing his balance and sinking to the floor. Katy totally anticipated his reaction and got out of the way, escaping with a muddy leg, but without injury as H set off - solo - to find his friends. Caught in the lorry park, Katy remounted (without her spurs this time) and continued her warm-up. That incident alone is why I chose not to ride, I wouldn't have anticipated his over-reaction and would undoubtedly have come out of it hurt and unable to continue. As it was, H had to be vet checked as did Katy. Both were passed fit and went into their test on time. For a first test, it was good. Fair comments from the judge (he was against Katy's hand whenever he felt he could get away with it), made her life quite hard for 40 penalties.  Typically once dressage was done, he completely calmed down, thinking possibly his job was done!

Not so, just boots and a breastplate added for the show jumping phase. He seemed back to his laid back self, strolling down to the warm up arena. Once there, he was keen to get on with the job, but quite distracted by the other horses busy around him. Again, Katy sat quiet, warmed up and went into the arena. While he was only jumping 80cms, he was very green in his approach. He hasn't done much jumping on grass and while neither the jumps or filler worried him, his concentration was definitely lacking by fence four as he just didn't pick his front feet up, but that was his only faults as he kicked the top pole out. He did though need quite a lot of help to get round the remaining fences, even getting two strides in a one stride double!

Again, he was convinced that having show jumped, his day was over and he needed lunch! A cheeky nibble of grass and he set off for the XC warm up, where once more, he came alive taking Katy into the practice fences as if he were drag hunting, excited to be with other horses all doing the same thing. Katy was almost concerned that she wouldn't be able to hold him or that he wouldn't listen to her. At the start H was keen to get going, no napping or hesitating which was a great sign as he was leaving his friends behind. He set off full of energy, jumping the first two obstacles. It was then it dawned on him that he was 'all alone' and his focus started to waiver slightly, but he didn't hesitate, going straight into the water (which was causing other some difficulty), but when he got to the open ditch, he was convinced a monster would get him. A stern talking to and he went on the second time of asking.

The rest of course went without incident, returning with 20 jumping and 15 time penalties and although H was very tired by the time he got home - physically and mentally - he still had his ears pricked and seemed pleased with himself. 

H didn't disgrace himself (totally), but watching Katy ride, confirmed that my decision to get a professional event rider to take my very inexperienced (and as it turned out unpredictable) young horse to his first horse trials was absolutely right. 

The pressure is for me to pick up the competing mantle, so my brave pants will have to come out of the cupboard, but in the meanwhile a few more lessons needed!


]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) eventing horse trials irish sport horse katy dziedzic klass equestrian tweseldown Mon, 23 Oct 2017 19:39:39 GMT
Maddie and Rooney share a bit of down time After a busy summer competing and teaching, Maddie and Rooney had a little down time this week before they return to university. 

We were more than lucky with the weather and Rooney was on very good form. Interestingly, as the morning progressed, it was clear he really just wanted her to ride him rather than be alongside him on the ground.  And on the basis that he'd been bathed, bandaged and plaited, I can see his point - usually this amount of pampering means only one thing - a trip out to a dressage party. No such thing, he stayed at home for a walk about his fields. 

His character really shone through and the relationship the two have is lovely to watch. Rooney usually loves a treat (in fact sugar lumps are by far his most favourite), but playing to the camera for one didn't cut it at all. Even photographer props had little impact on his demeanour, he just looked at them a little sideways on and moved on, literally.  If Maddie hadn't followed, he would have carried on walking anyway.

However, once Maddie decided that getting on board might get a better reaction, Rooney was almost relieved. He's become such a part of her life and while the back-up crew (Mum Nikki, Dad Ronan, sister Olivia and instructor Annie) all have vital roles to play in Rooney's day to day life, it is Maddie he looks to when it matters. 

This summer, as well as teaching the Hampshire Hunt Pony Club, Maddie and Rooney competed at the Pony Club Area Qualifiers, South East Regionals, Pony Club Championships and the Midway Champs. Rosettes a plenty, but there was some tough competition out there, which Maddie took in her stride, such a mature attitude even on the occasion things didn't always go according to plan. We all know that Rooney's reaction to performing on grass can be mixed and our 'relaxed' session this week proved exactly that. Put him on a surface and he seems to grow an inch or two, but at nearly 20, he's allowed a quirk or two.

A second year at Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester is around the corner along with a placement in Ireland in 2018. Looking forward to more excitement to come from these two.

]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) connemara dressage sponsored rider tuition Fri, 22 Sep 2017 20:26:58 GMT
Ingrid and Paddy with Katy and Kalli The weather gods were shining on Wednesday afternoon when I went to photograph Ingrid and Katy and their beautiful horses Paddy and Kalli. One could be mistaken for thinking they were twins, but the characters are so totally different. Both horses performed brilliantly for the camera and the relationship they have with Ingrid and Katy is lovely to see. Paddy is a true gentleman and while Kalli doesn’t interact with her human counterparts, she most certainly knows who is mum.

Based in Tilford, Ingrid and Katy Dziedzic run Klass Equestrian teaching private clients, riding and pony clubs as well as competing themselves. They both offer freelance instruction in all disciplines in the Surrey and Hampshire area. Ingrid is a BHS AI and has over 35 years’ experience of teaching. Katy is also a BHS AI and has her BHS Stage 4 in Riding & Horse Care. Katy has been qualified for over 10 years and specialises in schooling and competing. She also competes up to 2* Eventing, Advanced Medium dressage and Foxhunter show jumping.

Katie’s horse Kalli (A Splash of Class) was born at home nine years ago. She’s very much Katy’s horse of a life time taking her to her first 2* competition. Occasionally described as a little evil, she is nonetheless one super talented little horse. Ingrid’s horse, affectionally known by all who him as Paddy (Me Bee Brown), has been there, seen it and done it, although Ingrid has only been competing him this year. There’s no mistaking his occasional sense of humour, but Paddy has worked hard this summer qualifying for the Riding Club Eventing Championships where he and Ingrid finished 10th overall. 

]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) dressage eventing klass equestrian show jumping tuition Thu, 07 Sep 2017 21:10:39 GMT
Ebony Horse Club comes to Hampshire Once again this year, I was lucky enough to be part of Allegra's Ambition Ebony Horse Club Day on 24th July. And what an amazing day it was.

Following the success of last year, Allegra's Ambition and the Hampshire Hunt Pony Club co-hosted a day of tuition and fun for almost thirty children and young adults who travelled from South London to Herriard Park just outside Basingstoke.  Some came last year so knew a little of what to expect, but for others, it was their first visit and for a few, the first time they had ever been out of London. Imagine then turning up to rolling countryside and having the place entirely to themselves for the day.

The other element that makes a day like this so special is the ponies that are lent by the pony club members and friends.  There was a pony or horse for every rider who came, ranging from the typical small kick along to the Thoroughbred event horse. Imagine the thoughts going through both rider and horse. Can I really do this? Credit to all, the horses were amazing. Bear in mind, some were dragged from a field and others had been competing up and down the country just 24 hours before they were expected to be the perfect schoolmaster with a jockey who had never sat on them; and usually lucky to ride just once a week, such is the demand for places at Ebony Horse Club. The bond generated in such a short time was extraordinary.  So much so, that had there been room on the coach, a couple of horses may have found themselves accompanying their new jockeys back to London.

Bringing an event like this together takes a huge amount of effort from lots of people, all of who give up their time. Allegra's mother Lucy is central to this as it was her idea to bring Ebony to Herriard as part of Allegra's Ambition (more on this in a bit), but without the HH ponies it wouldn't be what it is. Add to that, the five instructors (Julian, Ellie, Ingrid, Eliza and Cordelia) gave up their time to teach, Newlyns Farm donated food for the delicious BBQ and many parents and committee members provided the ever popular cakes.  A shout out too to the support crew, those that covered the ground on foot leading their or someone else's pony to give one or two of the more nervous riders the confidence to go a bit faster or jump a little higher than they thought they were capable of. And to the fun had during the lunchtime break when two Shetland ponies in carts came and gave mini driving lessons. As if the riders hadn't done enough in their morning session a full on game of football was a great bonding tool before an afternoon of more riding.

Allegra was an active member of the HH for six years (riding was just one of several sports she excelled at) and it's her friends and their friends who volunteered their ponies and their time to help. And they did it brilliantly again this year in memory of an incredibly talented child whose life was cut so short just 16 days after her 16th birthday. 

Allegra's Ambition, established by her family and friends in Allegra's memory, aims to help other, often disadvantaged young people, to enhance their lives through participation in sport and outdoor activities. 

It also encourages young people to help build the charity - setting personal fundraising challenges and volunteering at Allegra's Ambition sponsored events.   Allegra was always proactive and she had great ideas. If it was fun, if it was a challenge, if it was inclusive, if the goal was worthwhile – then Allegra wanted to do it. 

Ebony Horse Club encapsulates this. The charity was founded 21 years ago with children travelling to riding schools in and around London but in 2011, they achieved the dream of building their own community riding centre right in the heart of Brixton. The centre, home to nine horses, is hidden between high rise flats and the railway line, in one of the most disadvantaged inner city neighbourhoods in the country.  The young rarely have positive contact with animals, especially horses but Ebony Horse Club provides the opportunity to think and gain new experiences outside the box of negative stereotypes - and to benefit from the powerful, life-changing influence that contact with horses can bring. 

Ebony offers much more than riding lessons, it also mentors children who experience significant challenges at school and at home - challenges that can profoundly affect their ability to achieve later in life.

To learn more about these incredible charities, follow these links:


]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) allegra's ambition charity ebony horse club hampshire hunt pony club pony club Fri, 28 Jul 2017 17:23:53 GMT
The Road to Cheshire for Maddie and Rooney On 1st July I signed my first sponsored rider - 20 year old university student Maddie O'Carroll and her 19 year old Connemara X roan pony The Silver Brumby (AKA Rooney) - and what an extraordinary few days it has been.

The last week has been full on. After a good practice training session with her trainer Annie Hunter Blair at the end of last month, Maddie and Rooney were set to compete. The thing is Rooney does very little work on grass - in fact he has only competed on grass on a handful of occasions since Maddie first took on the ride at the end of 2015 - those being the Area 13 qualifying competition and National Championships in July and August.  This will be her third year heading to Cholmondeley Castle to compete at the Pony Club Championships in August.

Once again, as the times were posted on the organiser's website, Maddie and Rooney were selected to be first on.  That meant a 5.30am start to get her boy plaited and prepared, travel to the venue - the beautiful Hackwood Park in Basingstoke - warm and be ready to go at 8.30. With family support from mum Nikki and sister Olivia, the day went as well as the team could have expected. A brilliant win, scoring 73.06% in stiff competition. The second placed combination were almost 1% behind and were second to ride, so it was a long wait until all the tests were marked, checked and posted, but it became clear that Maddie had qualified to go to Cheshire.

For me, the early start was so worth it. For Maddie, it just meant that as she had finished early she was available to swap her riding hat for her teaching tog, picking up the mantel of warming up her co-competitors who were taking part in the same competition.  And there was success here too, with the intermediate and novice teams also qualifying for the Championships. 

There are now six weeks to go before the pair travel to Cheshire to repeat their success.  As part of their preparation, Maddie and Rooney will train most days and fit in at least one more British Dressage competition, this time the British Dressage Summer Regionals at Bery Farm, to push themselves as far as they can without over working. In addition to competing Maddie will spend much of the rest of her summer teaching.

Maddie is a great ambassador for Anna Rainbow Photography and I wish her every success with her summer plans before she returns to her Equine Business studies at Royal Agricultural College, Cirencester.


]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) area qualifier dressage national championships pony club Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:27:01 GMT
Renaye and Vigoro In spite of a rather damp start to the day on Friday, the rain held off and more importantly Vigoro was sound.

Vigoro is a 17hh Dutch Warmblood dressage horse that Renaye has owned and nurtured for the last five years. He struggles with injuries - a small scratch can render him hopelessly lame - and worst still, his nerves often get the better of him on a regular basis.

He has the potential to compete at Advanced or Prix St. George (PSG), but while he's calm at home, the stress of plaiting, travel and warming up can up his stress levels to such a point that competing is too much for him, begging the question 'what happened before Renaye found him?'

To overcome his fear of the unknown, and to keep him at his best Renaye has been training with Jill Stone, not so much a dressage 'teacher' than a biomechanics specialist who works, with both horse and rider to ensure they are working in harmony. For Vigoro, this has made an enormous difference to his performance. They are hoping that with a bit of patience, Vigoro will prove his ability can transfer from home to the competition arena.

]]> (Anna Rainbow Photography) dressage Mon, 03 Apr 2017 17:12:42 GMT