Equestrian & rural business blog posts

Blogging has been so beneficial for my business. I enjoy it too. I started off in copywriting and, for me, this blog is a great way to share equestrian and rural businesses as well as PR, marketing and social media advice. All posts have been written to inspire, educate or to share something that is important to me, my business, or my customers.

The blogs you’ll find in the category are likely to be varied in content. Yes, there will be an equestrian, rural or country connection in them (mainly because that’s just who I am!), but be prepared to see a range of subjects. From business profiles, sharing information about the people behind the brand to social media know-how and how to promote your equestrian and rural business more effectively, you’re likely to find it in here.

Do you use social media in your equestrian business? If you’ve answered this question with anything but ‘yes’ (and ‘meh’ and ‘kind of’ counts as no!), you’re missing out. Social media can be game changing for your equestrian business in lots of ways. I don’t want to overwhelm you and leave you tutting/shaking your head or throwing your computer across the room… so here are just five reasons to use social media in your equestrian business…

5 reasons to use social media for your equestrian business

Reason 1- Equestrians are on social media!
It’s so, so important to be where your customers are. And the good news is for you, you equestrian business owner you, THEY’RE ON SOCIAL MEDIA! With over 2 billion monthly active users on Facebook and 1 billion on Instagram, there’s a LOT of people to go at… and a number of these are equestrian!

Reason 2 – Your equestrian business can reach new people if you use social media

social media for equestrian businessYour social media won’t just reach your current customer pool – depending on how well you use the platforms, you have the opportunity to reach new people interested in your brand/products and services all over the world… or just a few miles away.

Reason 3 – You can use your social media to show behind the scenes of your equestrian business

Customers and people who might be future customers love this. This might be you receiving a new delivery, opening corporate clothing, visiting a sponsored rider at home… you name it. This allows your customers to see what really makes your equestrian business tick. And you can utilise this ‘behind the scenes’ story telling in so many different ways with video, Lives, filters and effects… the social media world is your oyster.

Reason 4 – It’s free to get started

How many ways to market your equestrian business start at zero cost? Completely free? You can get yourself set up on all the places your customers are NOW and start promoting your equestrian business through social media. Within the next hour you could have fans and followers on all these platforms for nothing. How good is that?!

Reason 5 – People buy from people

Don’t just use your social media as a way to tell people to ‘buy stuff’. No. It’s social media for a reason. And a good reason. It’s the perfect place to be sociable. The internet is the most amazing tool but the screen and a lack of face to face contact can make customers feel distant. And they feel the same distance too. So how can you address that? But using your platforms to communicate directly to them. Become the face of your equestrian business, like you would if someone walked in your shop. This is a great way to bridge this gap in the digital world we live in.

I’m hoping this ‘take five’ blog series will inspire you, make you smile… maybe it’ll just get your head nodding as you enjoy a well earned cuppa and a biscuit. Either way, I’d love you to carry on the chat over on Instagram or Facebook. Hope to see you there.

In this episode, we’re talking about collaboration. Oh – I LOVE collaborations! My most recent TEDx talk at TEDxTelford was all about it (it was called ‘Killing it with creativity and collaboration), so don’t just think I’m wittering on about it… I love it! This is a solo show, so I’d like to start now by thanking you for hanging out with me for the next few minutes. I hope you love it…

Have a listen here…

Let’s talk about collaboration and why you need to get on board with it for your equestrian or country business

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 6 – collaboration… what you’ll hear in this podcast episode…

  • We talk about the power of collaboration and how my latest TEDx talk was all about it.
  • We chat through an example of a recent collaboration between Karen & Clan, Hiho Silver, Morris Richardson Watches and Fairfax & Favor.
  • We talk about how to find the perfect business to collaborate with and talk through some examples connected to equestrian businesses, to help inspire you.
  • That whatever business you have – whether you have a service, product or experience- you can find one that matches
  • We talk about why it’s important to make sure the companies you pick to collaborate with share you ethos and values… and why that matters.
  • Why aligning your audiences is important when you’re planning a collaboration.
  • Why it’s important that there’s something in it for everyone, and other ways you can add value to bigger brands if you’re a smaller one.
  • The importance of not being limited when you’re thinking about collaborations. Giveaways are great, but there’s a lot more you can do if you want it.
  • Why it’s important to make sure that it’s easy for your customers to get involved. And why simplicity is good.
  • We talk about how you can collaborate with more than one brand at a time… but also talk about the limitations to this.
  • We speak about the cost of collaborations (spoiler alert… this is exciting!)
  • And we talk about how to find these people by getting to know them before you ask about working together.

Subscribe to the Small & Supercharged podcast on iTunes

In this episode, we’re talking about Kylie Jenner, augmented reality… and how all this matters to your business! This is a solo show, so we’ll be hanging out for the next few minutes. I hope you enjoy it. So, without further ado… shall we have a chat about Kylie Jenner’s Face Filter, augmented reality… and why I’m very excited about both!

Have a listen here…

 

Let’s talk about Kylie Jenner, augmented reality and why Face Filters could rock your business

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 4 – augmented reality, Face Filters and Kylie Jenner… what you’ll hear in this podcast episode…

  • What augmented reality is and how you’ve (probably) already used it.
  • How Kylie Jenner’s Face Filter didn’t just make me look a whole lot more polished, it also signalled the start of new applications for this function inside an app.
  • How powerful Instagram really is and how many users it has.
  • How the Face Filter and its application connects to real life sales.
  • How filters could help to bridge the gap between the online and in store shopping experience.
  • How augmented reality could make shopping from home even more realistic and useful than going to a shop.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the Small & Supercharged Podcast so you don’t miss an episode! You can find it on iTunes, Spotify and Podcast Player – just search ‘Small & Supercharged Podcast’ or my name. Another perk of having a weird name!!

In this episode I chat to special guest, equestrian photographer, vlogger, blogger and all round legend, Sophie Callahan. You’ll know I love Sophie from, well, most of my content(!), but on this episode we’re talking about commercial photography. Commercial photography sounds a bit scary, but it isn’t – and more than that, it’s really important for your business. So, over to Sophie… and a huge thanks to her for her help with this episode.

Have a listen here…

Sophie Callahan on commercial photography

Show notes for the Small & Supercharged Podcast – Episode 3 – Sophie Callahan on commercial photography… what you’ll hear in this podcast episode…

  • The scope of commercial photography, the kind of shots that can be taken and why. Sophie has done a lot of work for country and equestrian brands and she shares some quite eye-watering examples!
  • How to organise a shoot, whether you’re a brand or service provider
  • How to work out which photographer is the best one to suit your needs, what kind of questions to ask and more.
  • Even though it’s a good idea to find a photographer whose style aligns with your business, a photographer will usually adjust their style, if requested, to align with your brand better… but it’s also important to remember why you chose them.
  • You can be as involved (or not!) as you like. Some photographers will source models, locations and everything else – you just send the product. But there are opportunities to be more involved with your commercial shoot too.
  • What to send your prospective photographers to ensure they understand your vision and can do what you need.
  • Why it’s important to be clear about what you want to do with the images after the shoot. Images for social media, like Instagram, will be taken in portrait rather than landscape, for example.
  • Copyright and what you can do with the images you have taken.
  • The importance of communicating with your photographer to establish what you can and can’t do with the images you have taken.
  • How you can cost shoots and possible different options available.
  • How often you should have a shoot for your brand, whether it’s a service or product based business.
  • Why phones are great, but the camera isn’t what you’re paying for!
  • The importance of good photography on social media.
  • The difference good photography can make, even to eBay sales.
  • Combined shoots and how these can keep the cost of photography and commercial photoshoots down.
  • The difference between lifestyle and packshot photography, if there’s a place for both and how to know which to pick.
  • The value of using photographers who are skilled in your niche for lifestyle images – so using an equestrian photographer for your equestrian business, for example.

A HUGE thank you to Sophie Callahan for being an amazing podcast guest and for helping to demystify commercial photography. Sophie is EVERYWHERE on social media – here is where you can find her:

Thanks so much for dropping in. Don’t forget you can subscribe on Spotify, iTunes or Podcast Player, just search ‘Small & Supercharged Podcast’ or my name.

If you’re an Apple fan, you can subscribe here.

I’m a teeny tiny bit excited about this – welcome to the Small & Supercharged Podcast – episode 1…

Yep, the Small & Supercharged Podcast has officially launched! Named after the Small & Supercharged Facebook group (the group I set up to help support small businesses, particularly in the equestrian and rural sector), this podcast is going to be embody the group. It’s going to talk about PR, marketing, websites and social media (of course!), but also interview a range of business owners about their skills and knowledge too. The aim of the podcast is to be a real hub for small business. To help business owners feel a whole lot less alone, more informed and ready for whatever challenges their business life brings.

And, of course, for people who want to join the Small & Supercharged Facebook page and feel more of that community love and support, please accept this as an invitation to join the group… just please fill in the questions!

So, without further ado – here’s episode 1, enjoy!

 

If you liked the Small & Supercharged Podcast (and I’m kind of hoping you did!), the please consider popping over to iTunes and subscribing. And if you’d like to leave a review and rating I would be SO grateful. Thank you.

They say the consistency is king, and I for one preach that. But what happens when your life and work mean that you can’t be as consistent as you want to be? Do you throw in the towel? Do you just struggle on? Do you become completely overwhelmed and brand yourself as a complete failure? Well over the last few weeks I have not been as consistent as I want to be with my blog, just because I have not physically had enough hours in the day to do the work I need to do and do the blog as well. And I wanted to explain a little bit more about why that is. I’m also here to talk about how I am getting back on the path to being consistent. Because it really is important.

Ahh – September…

September is always a really busy month in my world. I have Christmas things that are kicking off for PR and marketing clients, but I also have Burghley Horse Trials and Blenheim Horse Trials. And this year I’ve chucked in a couple of extra fun things too. So first there’s Burghley Horse Trials. A number of my clients attend Burghley Horse Trials and it is a really big deal for them. I don’t actually attend in person and haven’t for a few years, but I am very involved in all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make the Horse Trials a big success for my clients. One particular client is Hiho Silver. Not only do they have a stand there, but the company also sponsors the best dressed at the first trot up. Because it is a sponsorship, a lot of preparation goes in behind the scenes before the event even starts. I was absolutely thrilled with how all this came together during the event, but it does take a lot of time. Worth every second though – seeing a big project come together perfectly is a real buzz and one I wouldn’t trade!

Then there was Style, Skills & Silver

A few days later we embarked on Hiho’s very first instameet which was called Style, Skills and Silver. This took place at The Fish Hotel in Broadway and was absolutely amazing on every possible level. I loved every minute, but it took a lot of work behind the scenes too. Emma Warren, Hiho’s Queen Bee, was the person who came up with the idea and did do a huge amount of work, but everyone involved also worked their socks off on their respective elements to make the day the huge success it was. 

Then there was Blenheim Horse Trials

The next thing was Blenheim Horse Trials which, again, was a brilliant event. I did actually attend on the Friday too. Again, Hiho Silver sponsored the best dressed at the first trot up, and there was quite a bit to do around that. I did go for the day on the Friday as I mentioned, and met up with a few people and had a really great time. But it’s another day out of the system and when I have a certain amount of work to do, it’s my blog and content that takes the hit (and so it should be!).

And then there’s my second TEDx talk…

And then this month, just for a laugh, I was very very pleased to accept the invitation to do my second TEDx talk. This one is at TEDx Telford in 10 days time. Not only did the application process take a little bit of time in terms of having to submit various things, but also preparing a talk. I’ve got another rehearsal to go and then the actual event itself. At every stage, this does take quite a lot of time, and so it should do. TED and TEDx are big institutions and when you have the privilege of being invited to speak at these, you need to pay it the respect it deserves. This means time, energy and a whole lot of sweat(!) go into making sure that what I am presenting is useful to the audience and withholds TED and TEDx’s values too. I take this quite seriously because I think it’s such an honour to be invited not just for one talk but for my second. I kind of think this proves that the first one wasn’t all that bad!

Excuses?

I’m not trying to make excuses but I’m being realistic here. My blog and the content I create have to support my business. When I have plenty of work to do, and the reason I have created this content (as in, to help people, create opportunities and show what I can do) has created the work I want, it would be crazy not to do those things in order to create more content, to get the opportunities that I’ve already been given. See what I mean? So the blog is the thing that’s taken a hit. I do tend to schedule my blogs in advance and I have a load saved as draft, but being a bit of a perfectionist (which is not a great thing), I like to proofread, tweak, add links and images after I’ve written them. This means that although I have quite a few saved and ready to go, they still take quite a lot of work to get to the final stages.

This isn’t a bad thing. I did really beat myself up about it because I do preach that consistency is king. I’m not changing that – it is!

But it’s not everything…

I haven’t dropped ball on everything. My social media is still pretty strong. But that’s how I think it should be. I like to experiment, try and test different things on different platforms, so I can pass this learning on to my clients and then they get the to use my ‘testings’ on their own accounts. Also, I feel that the referrals and everything else from my social media to my website and to my other social media platforms makes them really really valuable. And as someone who teaches and lectures on social media, I need to be on the pulse on that.

I really love writing and sharing what I’ve been up to with you all. Because of the amount of time and energy each blog takes to write, that tends to be the thing that gets the biggest hit when I’m busy. So I’d like to apologise. I’ve still been putting out at least one blog each week, but it can be up to three (as per my schedule). I’m thinking of revising the schedule too – but that’s another blog!

What do you do to get consistency back?

If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls and want to get your consistency in content creation back again, I have some tips…

  1. Don’t beat yourself up. These things happen. We all make mistakes and when things get busy it’s very easy to become less consistent because you’re overwhelmed everything else. Accept that this is life. But also accept that you need to pick yourself up and crack on. Don’t dwell.
  2. Start with one thing. If you feel like you’ve dropped all the balls don’t try and pick them all up and start juggling at the same time because you’re just going to feel overwhelmed. If you think that you can pick up one social media platform at a time, for example, then do it. And do that one well. You can then add the rest in when you’re feeling a lot more confident in what you’re doing. So rather been completely overwhelmed by everything being thrown at you all over again, just add one thing at a time into your schedule so you know that you can cope.
  3. And last but not least – you need to get back on it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with work, you might wonder why you need to get back on it. Because things have been going well without being consistent in your content. But I think it’s because you’ve been consistent for so long. And this means it’s not something you should consider stopping too quickly. I’m not prepared to drop it. I’ve kept my social media channels running as I said above, but the blog for me is really really important for so many different reasons. It’s been so useful for me. I know how much it helps people and I get lots of lovely comments from people saying they’ve read something on my blog and it’s changed the way they view something. That, to me, is so important. 

So I hope that’s helped. Being consistent is king. It really, really is, but I also want to acknowledge in this blog that we all make mistakes and we all drop the ball. What’s important is how we pick it back up and carry on. 

 

The Fish Hotel BroadwayThere are going to be a few blogs about Hiho Silver’s amazing Style, Skills & Silver event, because I’m still buzzing from it. Last Thursday (6th September) was the day of the event we’d been working towards for a while. And I say we because it really was a we. The event was the brainchild of Hiho’s Queen Bee, Emma Warren, but the two workshops that were held were a huge team effort, that I will tell you about in more detail soon. Today, we’re focusing on the beautiful venue – The Fish Hotel, Broadway.

The Fish Hotel, Broadway

Based on the Farncombe Estate, The Fish Hotel is a real hidden gem. And it is properly hidden too! You clamber up a hill called Fish Hill (and it’s a serious hill with some quite surprising bends!), before taking a left down a long drive. The Estate is massive and contains three amazing venues/hotels – there’s The Fish Hotel, Dormy House and Foxhill Manor. As you turn off the main road, you are taken down an incredibly long drive. It would have been useful if I’d measured the length of the drive but this thought only dawned on me as I started to write the paragraph. The thing is, the length of the drive isn’t the thing you remember. It’s the view. I headed to the venue with Ruth (Dressage Anywhere) and as I’d been there before, I wittered on about the view for most of the drive down the drive. I’ve seen the view before but it was no less impressive second time around. Worcestershire stretches out beneath you and it’s just a sight to behold. I took a picture when I went for a recce, but it doesn’t do it justice. The scale can’t be appreciated in a picture. The entrance is impressive and sets the tone for everything else.

Springfield House

The Fish is made up of a few different areas. The Hook is the restaurant were we had a very nice pizza for dinner the night before, Springfield House is where we held Style, Skills & Silver, we stayed in the Coach House (I think). They also have a number of other buildings in the grounds, including some stunning shepherd huts by Blackdown Shepherd Huts that people can stay in too. It’s clearly a big place, but the careful design of it all means it all feels rather private and lovely. There’s also a lot of greenery – when we walked up from the restaurant the night before (we didn’t stop setting up until gone 9pm so dinner was quite late), it was lovely – tree lined, beautifully lit… heavenly.

Springfield House has quite a different vibe to the restaurant but it’s absolutely lovely too. It manages to strike the mix of modern, cosy, funky, quirky and practical. And that’s quite a combination! We had four rooms in total on two different floors. The first floor was where we held the workshops – the space and the light were lovely and worked so well with the practical workshops. Up a level we had a lovely lounge where we met at the beginning and end of the day, and the room next door where we had lunch and chatted too. The rooms were lovely and having the space over the two floors worked so well with the way the day ran.

Where we stayed

The night before I stayed in the Coach House. I shared a twin room with Ruth and it was the most beautiful room. Lovely fresh white bed linen, Galaxy hot chocolate (yes, I’m very easily bought!), a huge bathroom with lovely toiletries. Everything was beautiful. But like with Springfield House, it was beautiful but very cosy and comfy too. There was a handwritten welcome note, really lovely blankets on the bed, a wooden book with ‘All you need to know’ written on it including all the important things you needed to know, like how the wifi worked. The decor was so pretty, but so comfy. I couldn’t fault it.

Breakfast was included but as I made my way down I got summoned by Sophie and Harriet, who were also staying in the same building, to have a look at their room and give opinions on what to wear. I say summoned. Sophie shouted out the window and I decided I’d rather spend time with them than eating. I felt a little nervous anyway and the last thing I need when feeling a bit nervous is food! Their room was as lovely as ours. It was a slightly different design. It had a little hall and a gorgeous outside terrace space with a glimpse of the stunning view I have spent a lot of this blog wittering on about.

This isn’t a TripAdvisor review – I mean, why be conventional?! But I wanted to explain a bit about the venue as it was really special. It’s not your average hotel, or conference room, or meeting place. It’s way more special than that. I’m looking for an excuse to return as soon as I can!

Find out more about The Fish Hotel here…

To see more about the event, see Karen & Clan and Sophie Callahan’s vlogs.

Super X Country SXC Sports LeggingsIf you wandered over to Super X Country’s stand at Burghley Horse Trials, you may have seen the company’s new SXC Sports Leggings. I say may, because the stand looked absolutely stunning and was bursting at the seams with beautiful pieces. From sequin hoodies to bespoke cross country colours, new gloves to breeches galore. I took a bit of time to catch up with the lady behind the brand, Becci Harrold, to find out more about the SXC Sports Leggings. And why they’re so special.

Behind Super X Country’s SXC Sports Leggings

Leggings have become so popular, haven’t they? Why do you think that is? It always nice to have different riding pieces to choose from according to your style and the weather. I think the leggings make you
feel less restricted and also make you look more normal in the shops, when you’ve had to nip out!
What makes your SXC Sports Leggings special? I have designed these with affordability in mind. I know what it’s like wanting a new pair of breeches or leggings every few months; who doesn’t want something new! I have always found the problem is the cost! These leggings tick a lot of boxes and come well within most people’s budget at £38.99. They use good, strong, high quality Lycra that is not see through! They feature the all important gel knee, and in keeping with our practical ethos, we opted for two pockets on each side of the leg which, again, fit the biggest of iPhones. They are super easy to access too. I went for piping detail in a contrasting colour, which makes them really flattering from behind. The Lycra sock and top of pocket detail also match. The wide waistband is super strong and supportive, offering great comfort and support.
How did you choose the colour combinations you did? I have found our new colours for this season aqua & turquoise have been so popular in base layers, so with that in mind I wanted to add a touch of colour to
the grey & navy base colours we went for in leggings. Everyone loves matchy matchy too, we even have a hat silk, tops & saddle pads to match them!
What features do the SXC Sports Leggings have that make them must haves? The pockets on either side of the leg are real must haves for me. The gel knee is also a must. For the leggings, being made from Lycra offers extra support too. I love the waistband and the piping details too, anything remotely like them would
cost a hell of a lot more!
Have you been wearing them and testing them too? Yes, I wear and test all my own designs before going to manufacture with them. This ensures I get all the details exactly right. I also have fantastic sponsored
riders who help with this job too!
To find out more about the new SXC Sports Leggings, have a look at the over on Super X Country’s website here.

How to split test your Facebook advert - Rhea freemanHave you heard of split testing? It’s a really clever way to test two ideas and show these to a small amount of your audience (at a lower cost) before launching a full campaign. You can do this with many things, but Facebook adverts have a built in feature that makes split testing a breeze. And here I’m going to tell you the basics of how to split test your Facebook advert (and why you should have a go)

How to split test your Facebook advert

Split testing your Facebook advert is a lot easier than you might think – in fact – there’s an option on the ad platform designed JUST for this! Clever, hey?

  • Go to Facebook Ads manager
  • Pick A/B testing
  • Start creating your ad

How do you split test?

You can split test your ad in a number of ways. On Facebook, you can pic imagery/graphic, audience and caption. You do one of these at a time so you can see which variable has worked the best. If you ran two completely different adverts with different imagery, ad format, audience and caption – how would you know which ‘bit’ had worked?

If you like, you can test each area at a time.

Why would you split test?

Quite simply, to see which advert is likely to get you the best result before you put a lot of budget behind it. You can spend a few pounds over a few days split testing a Facebook advert (you can spend a lot more too, obviously!), but it is so useful. You might find a different style of image performs better, or a reworking of your caption, for example.

Have you tried split testing? 

Rhea Freeman - Equestrian PR and marketing - business coachAs you’ll know, I’m lucky enough to work with some amazing photographers in the industry. And I was even luckier when Sophie Callahan gifted me a shoot as a Christmas present. Bless her. The shoot was one of her portrait shoots, but I also wanted to use the opportunity to take some images for my website. Because images are SO important for your brand. Now, I’ll level with you – I was a teeny bit anxious before the shoot, but definitely in a good way. But I thought I’d use my experience and share it with you. So if you’re thinking of having a shoot and you’re on the fence, I can (hopefully!) reassure you. So this first part is all about getting ready for a photoshoot for your brand.

Getting ready for a photoshoot for your brand

Well, the first thing I did was book the date with Sophie… and I’d suggest that is THE place to start! I was lucky in that I could be really flexible on the date… the only real issue for me was the time of year (my horses were involved, both live out, and they don’t look their best in the winter!). We managed to coincide Sophie’s visit with a trip to The Game Fair as it was at Ragley Hall this year, which is only about an hour from me… so that worked.

So, the date was booked… and it snuck up on me a little. The weekend before I had all my clothes sorted… but realised that even though the horses looked good coat wise, they were a bit grubby. I have a skewbald and a piebald. And both have a lot of white. More than I realised. I think you start to realise how much white a horse has when you’re scrubbing away at it! So, the areas of prep… for me at least…

What I was going to wear

For me, I wanted to wear clothes that I was comfortable in, looked good and I loved. I felt quite organised, despite a small pile of ironing. Then it was hotter than the sun, so the tweed gilet (by Rydale- SO gorgeous!) and burgundy tweed jacket (by Really Wild Clothing, that I bought at Badminton and was really excited about wearing), were going to be featured, but not in the central way I expected. Because I was pretty sure I would melt. I also had three shirts (two by Joules, one by Rydale), my newly cleaned Hiho Silver jewellery (thank you Michelle!), my Fairfax & Favor Explorers with plum tassels, two fedoras from Mackenzie & George and a Bora sunhat from Annabel Brocks. Sounds like a lot, but I want to use these for a good while, and I didn’t want to look the same in every image!

The heat concerned me. But I shouldn’t have worried. When Sophie arrived I showed her my pile of clothes and she made sure that we took pictures of everything I wanted but in a way that would ensure I didn’t overheat. So we got everything ready and in position before I put my gilet, jacket or fedora on, for example. And actually, I didn’t feel that much warmer for wearing them because everything was slick. Complete credit to Sophie here… I wouldn’t have just sweated and got stressed.

What about the horses?

Well, after my realisation that the horses needed *some* work, I set to work on Monday afternoon and gave them both a good scrub… and they looked much better for it. I did manes and tails and legs, and trimmed what was needed. I had left myself rhea freeman equestrian business coachThursday morning to rewash them, but was pleased to get the bulk of it done. Of course, horses being horses, they needed a fair bit of rewashing on the Thursday morning too. And a bucketload of mane and tail conditioner, but that’s life.

Now, although I am pleased that I washed them twice and did all this (although I’m pretty sure they were both convinced they were being sold!), I was cross that I couldn’t make them really shine. They live out 24/7. And you know what horses are like. You nearly kill yourself washing them and then they roll. When Sophie arrived I apologised profusely for the state of them, and she wasn’t even remotely concerned. She (quite rightly) pointed out you couldn’t even see the grubby bits I was stressing out about. Argh!

And the location for the shoot?

I’d always planned to do the shoot in the field, but as for exactly where, I didn’t really think about it. I knew there was plenty of space, but I also knew that Sophie would know what would work the best and understand light and shadows and all the things that I don’t really get and make all the difference. And I was right. Sophie had a little look when she came and got two or three ‘locations’ in the field earmarked.

Are we talking about a shoot for a brand or a portrait shoot?

In my case, it was both… actually, we also did a commercial shoot for a client of mine too as the location worked and we had the right ‘resources’ (Ok, my children!!) to make it work. I’m going to go into this in much more detail, but it was an absolute breeze and so much fun. Sophie’s good with horses, we know this, but she’s also very good with children and people, so it worked incredibly well. But more about that soon.

For me, I wanted pictures of the horses with me, pictures of the horses without me, and some ‘headshot’ ones of me, because I’m being asked for more and more of these and keep recycling one from a while ago! I’m planning to use all of these on my social media and in my content.

But isn’t preparation key to a good shoot?

Yes, yes it is… but you don’t need to stress yourself out over it. Sophie is very, very laid back and is there to help. She’ll help you put outfits together, help you with your horses when you get changed in the middle of a field (!), listens to what you want and also gives ideas to make it as successful as possible for you. And more than this, she knows what is editable and what isn’t. As the shoot progressed, I was getting hotter and hotter and was worried I’d be way too red (it was the hottest day of the year I think…), but Sophie assured me it would be fine. And she was right. I’ve seen all the pics now – the image on this blog is one – and I have to say I’m delighted.

As I may have said, Sophie very kindly gifted me this shoot for Christmas, but I have already booked next year’s shoot (not an actual date!), so if that doesn’t reassure you about how much I loved it, nothing will. For someone who doesn’t like having their picture taken, this is quite a bit deal!

To find out more about Sophie’s photography skills and what she can do for you and your business, have a look at her website (just click here!)