Ponies and Clydesdales on Dartmoor
I recently had the incredible good fortune to be able to combine a trip to the UK with a photography workshop as a birthday treat! Everything dropped into place at the last minute so that I could join a "Discovering Dartmoor" workshop run by Malcolm Snelgrove, a well known Equestrian Photographer based in the UK. The weekend set out to explore Dartmoor tracking the ponies, and in particular, to meet up with the Adventure Clydesdale crew and be able to photograph the beautiful Clydesdale horses up close.
The weather had been looking a little shaky before the workshop but turned out perfectly. Not too cold or windy, and the light cloud cover made for some great soft lighting. We had a small group (three of us in total) which allowed our host to tailor the weekend to suit us as the weekend evolved. Our exploits began Friday night with tracking down some of the native (the darker colored) ponies on the moors before the sunset.
For the Saturday and Sunday, Tim and Aileen from Adventure Clydesdale, and Malcolm, had put together a plan where we would be able to follow experienced riders on the Clydesdales as they rode out across Dartmoor and we'd be able to setup to get some great action shots as the riders crossed rivers, climbed up the hills, rode up and down several tors and cantered across the fields. This is actually quite a challenge as it meant we'd also be hiking across the moors to keep up with the horses, and as was noted... the moors are not flat! ;)
We also got to see these huge, but gentle, giants jumping and racing!
Between the hikes, we were able to spend some time up close with the Clydesdales in the fields. I had to stop petting the horses and remember to take photos several times; it was such an amazing experience to be up close with the fantastic animals.
As part of the workshop, Malcolm set us up in the Moorland Hotel in the village of Wotter. (Great name if you ask me :) . A very pleasant hotel with a great steak restaurant on site. I heartily recommend the Vietnamese Potato soup, and the steaks hit the spot after the day hiking the moors chasing the ponies and Clydesdales.
I had the extra bonus of staying behind one more day and having my own ride on a very handsome Clydesdale named Ecco. I highly recommend signing up for a ride to anyone else taking the workshop or even just visiting the moors. Tim and Aileen are extremely friendly and do an excellent job with the horses. I can't wait to get back there and ride again some day!
Oh, and I need to give due credit to Brimpt's farm. While we didn't get to lodge at the farm itself on this occasion, we were treated to a fabulous English breakfast each morning. A great start to the day. Not perhaps for a diet however but the hiking over the moors solved that !
A huge thanks to Malcolm for allowing me to join the workshop. A truly enjoyable weekend and I picked up great tips for photographing horses which I'm looking forward to applying at the forthcoming horse shows I'm attending. I definitely will be keeping an eye on the other workshops Malcolm has lined up for a future trip to the UK.
After the workshop, I drove on to the New Forest before flying back to the US. My first time to the New Forest, and I'll be posting more about that short excursion shortly.
-- Ian --
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