Three in one

Today’s picture shows Sam, my friend Bruce’s grandson, wearing a garment gifted to him by Mrs Tootlepedal.


It was a perfect summer day for sitting about outside not doing too much and this was very fortunate as this was exactly our plan.  After a quick visit to the local monthly producers’ market for fish and cheese, I had a moment to watch some very low flying swifts.  They seem to be nesting under the eaves of my neighbour’s house but I couldn’t take a picture to prove it and had to make do with this one.

Swift by name and swift in flight.

I had received a suggestion from Mel, a fellow local photographer, that Sandy and I might enjoy a visit to a local horse trials.  Sandy had thought that this was a good idea and Mrs Tootlepedal fancied an outing so when he arrived, we piled into the car and set off for the intriguingly named Nord Vue Farm and equestrian centre at Armathwaite, just south of Carlisle where the event was to take place.

(Warning: there are far too many photos in this post. Blame Mel.)

At the top level, these trials are held over three days but for a local event like the one we were attending, all three events, dressage, show jumping and cross country, are condensed into one day.

There were about 300 entries for the various events which were at graded levels from novice upwards so there was plenty of action to watch.

dressage arena
The dressage arena

Sandy and I were keen to try to develop some action horse photography skills.  We started by looking at the show jumping.

show jumping

Unlike top events, where the jumps are highly decorated and ingeniously designed, the course was very plain and didn’t offer a great deal for us so we moved on to the cross country where the jumps are more varied and the scenery more interesting.

Someone had told me to make sure I got my shot in early or I would only catch the passing tail of a horse.  I took this advice to heart but the result was that all my first shots were taken too quickly and the horses still had their back legs on the ground.

early shot
A typical example.

The fact that this was an intermediate class and the jumps were quite small didn’t help.  If the fences are bigger, you have more time to catch the horses in the air.

We moved to the other side of the same obstacle and I caught my first horse in flight.

horse jumping drop fence

In the background you can see a mobile palace that had brought a horse and rider to the event.  This is probably not a sport for the very hard up.

The going was good on the cross country course and although we saw a few refusals, there were no falls to alarm us.  Horses and riders concentrated hard.

rider concentrating

Mind you, I would concentrate pretty hard if I was in danger if banging my knees on a big log of wood like that.

This was a contestant clearing the final jump of the course in good style.

final jump

Mel arrived and we met her for lunch.  She had an assignment for a horsey magazine and needed to photograph every contestant in the main event of the day to make sure she had a picture of the eventual winner so we went with her back onto the course to find a good vantage point.  On our way we passed the water hazard.  At this level, riders don’t have to jump a fence and land in the water.  They just splash through it and jump out of it at the far end..

water hazard

We followed Mel to her chosen spot.

Mel's vantage point
This was it.

It was at the highest point of the course and we had a good view over the whole farm and the Eden valley beyond.

Eden valley

She had chosen a good fence for us to focus on.

Clearing the timber
I got the timing right at last.

I went to have a look at the next obstacle, a big drop fence on the way down the hill.

drop fence

It looked even more impressive from below.

drop fence

The riders were an undistinguished lot for the most part but the horses were magnificent.

Up and over

clearing the fence

While we were snapping away, Mrs Tootlepedal was taking in the scene and chatting to a rider from Langholm who was in one of the classes.  Sandy and I walked along to where the course ran through a wood for a short time.

through the wood

Mel had told us that she sometimes had to discard really good action shots because the horse had its eyes shut.  In the woods, I found a case where the horse had its eyes open and it was the rider with the shut eyes.

eyes shut

It was pleasant to stand in the shade for a while….

over the brush fence

…and watch the equine athletes doing their stuff.

We walked on to where the obstacle wasn’t a fence but a substantial drop instead.

drop obstacle

This gave us the best opportunities of the day for aerial photography.

drop obstacle

drop obstacle

As well as jumping the obstacles, the horses have to complete the course within time limits which meant some quite vigorous galloping for the higher class contestants.

nearing the finish

It had been a perfect day for horse watching, with a crisp breeze keeping temperatures very reasonable on a lovely sunny afternoon but as tea time drew near, we left Mel to it and drove home, crossing the River Eden on our way.

The River Eden at Armathwaite
The River Eden at Armathwaite

The drive home along the Eden Valley and over the hill to Brampton would have been worth an outing in itself for the lovely views but we had taken enough pictures by this time..

When we arrived home, we had missed the women’s final at Wimbledon but were able to catch the final climb of the day in the Tour de France by using the catch up programme on the TV.  Sandy went home for a snooze but I expect you will be able to see his take on our day on his blog soon.

After a rest, Mrs Tootlepedal went out into the garden to plant out some of the plants she has raised from seed in the greenhouse and which should have been in the ground a week or so ago.  I joined her and mowed the middle lawn, sieved a bucket of compost (which she promptly used for her planting out activities) and picked a good bowl of strawberries for our evening meal.

They are slightly firm in texture but have an excellent flavour.

While I was out, I took a picture of one of the white roses which are enjoying the sun as much as we are.

white roses

And checked on the siskins.

No change there.

I am very grateful to Mel for suggesting the visit to the horse trials and I will keep an eye out for another opportunity.

The flying bird of the day is a siskin in the low evening sunshine.




Published by tootlepedal

Cyclist, retired teacher, curmudgeon, keen amateur photographer.

27 thoughts on “Three in one

  1. What a wonderful way to spend a summer day! The photos are incredible. If I may ask – what camera are you using? I’m looking into getting a new one and I love the quality you’re getting from yours.

    1. It’s a Nikon D7000 and the lens (which was much more expensive than the camera body) is a Nikkor 70-200mm. It focusses quickly and gives nice sharp photos.

  2. For a moment, I was concerned there wouldn’t be any bird photos apart from the opening swift. I like the term, mobile palace. I’ll be sure to add that to my vocabulary. I suspect you are right and very few of the participants were on any form of public assistance. Congratulations on some excellent equistrian photography. Your portfolio continues to grow!

  3. Very much enjoyed accompanying you to the horse trials. That downhill jump looked very alarming, but you captured an excellent picture!
    Strawberries look delicious.

  4. If I was a horse I would have refused at that downhill jump for sure. I thought there might have been a flying horse of the day photo today!

  5. Brilliant shots of the riders 😉

    I’ve just finished making ‘Strawberry Conserve’ with 1lb of strawberries out of my garden. Never made it before and not sure how it will turn out. It’s cooling in two jars as I type 😉

      1. Do you know, I’m not entirely sure. I think it’s largely to do with the how the ‘whole’ the fruit is when the making process is finished.

        For a conserve I think the idea is that the fruit is largely whole and in more of a syrup, so the end result is looser.

        Jam, on the other hand, is where the fruit breaks down pretty much entirely and the end product is firmer due to the pectin used.

        I think! 😉

  6. Lovely flying creature shots! I used to love horseriding in my youth but didn’t care much for the jumping aspect of it. The only jumping my Quarter Horse breed did was when a “blessed” quail shot out of hiding right underneath his nose whilst we were galloping by!

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