On Monday, I had an amazing opportunity to not only meet up with some fabulous equine photographers, but to enjoy a tour of the King’s Troop Royal Artillery, purpose built, state-of-the-art equestrian training facilities, in Woolwich, London.
This all came about thanks to a little Facebook group called Small & Supercharged. S&S is a group for likeminded small business owners. It’s run by Rhea Freeman (who we all know I am a big fan of) and so, naturally, it’s mostly full of equine and country business owners. However, it is open to all.
There are quite a few equine photographers on there, so we decided to have a little meet-up. One of the lovely members suggested that her friend was in the King’s Troop and went about setting up a visit for us.
First and foremost, I have to thank the people behind this wonderful day out. To Rose, for initiating the entire thing. To Katie, for pulling strings and to Sgt Leighton, for being the greatest tour guide and being endlessly patient with us snapping away at everything and anything.
So, on to the day… I don’t even really know where to begin. It was so educational and absolutely fascinating to get in an inside view into the lives of the RHA soldiers. One thing I was pleasantly surprised to find was what a fun, light hearted atmopshere there was about the place.
Whilst every parade and ceremony is approached with professionalism and focus, daily life at the stables seems much less strict. There was laughter and chatter ringing down the walkways, evidence of past practical jokes in every room and music blaring from tack rooms, as the soldiers spent the required hours polishing their equipment to gleaming.
It was also lovely to see how much the soldiers adore their allocated horses. When some of them were given the opportunity to have photographs taken with them, they were so excited and I believe one mother has already been in touch with Katie about getting hold of the pictures. So, although these horses are most definitely working animals, with a very important job to do, they are also very much loved, too.
We began the day watching the horses coming back from their morning’s exercise around London’s roads. And what a sight they are to see. Perfectly behaved and completely relaxed, hundreds of hooves clattering against the tarmac as cars pass by and everybody within viewing distance stops to watch.
We then visited the stables, the riding school, the tack and equipment rooms, the tailor, the saddler, the forge, the pharmacy, the history room and the gun room. These guys are completely self sufficient, with their own cafe and bar on-sight, to boot.
After we’d thoroughly exhausted and photographed everything there was to see at the barracks, we then made our way over to Westminster, to get some photographs of the household cavalry at Horse Guards Parade.
It was fabulous day. Ironic in the fact that ten equine photographers, who spend most of their time in the countryside, met up in the middle of London, to photograph the capital city’s finest horses. And I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the new faces and catching up with those I’d already met.
But the thing that I took away from this day, above everything else, was the incredible sense of support, inspiration and friendship, that we are building.
As we chatted, it became clear that most of has had, at some point or another, recieved a frosty, closed reception from older, more established photographers, when we first started out. And that’s pretty daunting for a newbie, trying to find their place in an industry.
But the nine of us that met up on Monday, and the lovely people of the Small & Supercharged community are hard and fast proof that working together is so much more effective than working against one another. We are building a new era of photographers and business owners who are happy to share their lessons and their wealth of knowledge. Who are happy to help others and provide advice and a hand to hold.
Thanks to this, nine of us had an incredible opportunity on Monday and have already talked about planning the next one. Also because of this forward thinking attitude, we are seeing connections and collaborations being made every day in the S&S group. It’s a mindset that has been changing over the last year or so. When I set my own equine business Facebook group (which I nolonger run, due to lack of time and other commitments) there wasn’t much in the way of support in the equine and country industry, and to see that turning around, now, is just so inspiring!! It’s definitely about time and it’s a movement I’m extremely pleased to be a part of.
Before I leave you with the rest of the images below, I want to finish by posting this fab group photo (with permission) taken by Katie Mortimore. And, to all of the lovely ladies that were involved on Monday, I have left everybody’s business links underneath and I’d like to thank you so much, once again, for a fabulous day. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with you and we must do it again soon.
I also managed to get lots of vlogging content, so be sure to catch that on my Youtube channel on Monday evening.