Did I tell you all that October was a busy month? Like, really super busy! 

So last Sunday was another stunning Central Coast spring day – perfect weather, great location and another group of very talented riders and their beautiful horses!!

This was my first introduction to Working Equitation and I must say, it’s a great horse sport, it has a lot of elements  – some new to me some familiar.

The day started with dressage and it was great, there was some very ‘classic’ style dressage tests performed and then there were some very ‘working’ style tests performed, it was a fantastic mix and no matter which style you prefer you have to agree that any rider/horse combination that work well together look great in the dressage arena….this is a short explanation about the main difference in working equitation dressage taken from the ‘Working Equitation Today” website…. “In Working Equitation Dressage you and your horse are judged with the breed and conformation of your horse in mind.” When researching Working Equitation in preparation for photographing the event, this was my first indication that this is a sport for all horses!

Here are some dressage images for you…







Next, the horses competed in the Ease Of Handling or Style, phase – this is basically an obstacle course and the aim is “Fun and Finesse” depending on the level of the horse/rider combination this course was performed at either a walk/trot or walk/canter speed and either double or single handed.

I am going to explain some of the obstacles for anyone who has not experienced working equitation before….

All levels started with the gate, the lower levels had to open the gate and walk through with a halt and immobility in the centre, while the higher levels have to open, walk through and close the gate without letting go of the gate.



The highest levels even have to perform the gate a second time but reverse their horses through – still without letting go of the gate!

There is a bridge that is crossed at the walk…


There are Clover-Leaf-Barrels which are a set of 3 barrels that are to be circled in  a specific pattern (similar to sporting or barrel racing barrels)


Next was a Side-Pass-Pole – here the lower levels had to walk over the pole and show immobility while the higher levels had to show a side-pass movement and the poles were configured differently from a single pole, to a double pole, to an ‘L’ shape and a “Z” shape…


Now, the next obstacle was new to me, and takes some serious skill and training! The Garrocha (a long bamboo pole) and the Bull (not a live bull) – so the aim here is to pick up the Garrocha from a barrel, head to the bull – who has a ring mounted on his top-line – pick up the ring by placing the end of the Garrocha through the ring, then proceed past the bull and drop the Garrocha and ring into a 2nd barrel….




Next came the Bell Corridor (another new obstacle for me) here riders had to enter a straight corridor for the lower levels or an “L” shaped corridor for the higher levels, halt beside the bell pole and ring the bell, then depending on the level either exit the corridor forward or in reverse.



From there riders headed to the Stock Pen, now Sunday’s stock pen contained plastic chickens in the centre corral, but I did hear stories of one event where all the horses were surprised to see real live chickens in the stock pen! The aim here is to enter the pen clockwise – exit the pen – half circle around a cone then re-enter the pen anti-clockwise…




There is a jump, which as with all jumps, some horses like to ‘skim’ and others like to ‘leap’…





The final obstacle is the jug – where the horse must come to a square halt beside a barrel and the rider raise the jug above their head to signal completion of the course…


The third and final phase is the Speed phase and the speed phase can get very exciting! A description of the speed pages is “The Speed phase is designed to provide evidence of the rider’s coordination and anticipation, and the horse’s qualities of submission, speed, attention, and finesse. The obstacles should be performed as quickly as possible, without any concern for style. The test is judged solely on the time taken to complete the course plus any time adjustments that may accrue.”

The obstacles are essentially the same as in the Style phase, but there are less of them and they are performed faster…. much faster!





There are other obstacles that I didn’t include in this post, but did photograph, if you would like to see all the images from Sundays event – you can view the galleries here – I would like to thank the committee of the Working Equitation Hawkesbury 2 Hunter club for inviting me along on Sunday and to all the riders another horses for putting on a great display of horsemanship.

I hope you all enjoyed my insight into Working Equitation.


Sharon Stokes ~APP

Central Coast Pet Photographer

Hi everyone, wow, what a weekend the Hidden Valley ODE was!

The weather was perfect, the horses were stunning and as usual the backdrop of photographing horses at hidden Valley was amazing!!

It’s weekends like this that remind me why I love to do what I do.


As usual with a ODE we started with the dressage phase, in the morning sun-filled valley – beautiful horses danced with the light….




By the time the show jumping started, the sun had really warmed up and this little pet photographer was getting fried!

But just look at all these happy flying horses! It was worth every extra sun kiss (freckles, but Mum always called them sun-kisses)









Everyone had a well earned rest on Saturday night and when Sunday dawned fine and clear it was back out to the valley for cross country…











I would like to thank all the Hidden Valley organisers and volunteers, you guys again, put on an awesome event. Thank you for having me on the grounds and on course to photograph all of the stunning horses!

If you are a rider and have not already found the link to the full gallery…you can view the full gallery here…..

I am already looking forward to next year!

Sharon Stokes

Central Coast Pet Photography

Well, it seems that I have been rather slack in updating my blog with new posts!

I do apologise for that, there is no excuse, I have just been slack!

But guess what…here is a new post, yay!

Back in August, for the Horses Birthday, I ran a competition to gift a photography session for 1 horse to celebrate, well Ruban won this competition, but as he is 22 years old and had been having some health issues we put his session on hold until he was feeling a bit better.

I am very happy to say Ruban is now feeling awesome – and looking awesome as well…..


Ruban was such a lovely, easy going, laid back horse to work with, ok, he was maybe a bit too laid back….he really made me work for those ‘ears’! As any horse owner knows, when you photograph your horse you want ‘ears’ it’s all about the ears!! But we got there in the end, with the help of a few cows in the next paddock and a tractor slashing another paddock!


We even had a little calf wander through the fence and add some ‘interest’ to our background…not that Ruban or his Mum, Jasmin were worried…


It’s a beautiful bond between these two and it was very plain to see…



Jasmin has done such an amazing job caring for Ruban during his health scare, it’s always hard when any of your animals are ill, but even harder when they are a senior!

Ruban is looking and feeling fantastic and it is all due to the love and care of Jasmin and the great vets and farriers she has been able to work with. Jasmin, you are wonderful and it shows in Ruben’s beautiful eyes xoxo



Thank you for giving me the opportunity to photograph your beautiful boy

Sharon Stokes

Central Coast Pet Photographer