Horse photography in Gloucestershire – Young Sponsored Rider Jess Parsons, summer update

As part of our summer updates about our 3 current Young Sponsored Riders,  22 year old dressage rider Jess Parsons has written her own blog for us, about her progress with her horse ‘Tilly’ (Tiarella) since we started working with her at the beginning of the year.  We’re incredibly proud of Jess & Tilly – their total commitment to their sport, their passion, talent – and they are just a lovely pair have as a part of our team! Here goes with Jess’ update….

“Well where do I start?! If anyone had told me this time last year I would have done half the things we’ve achieved already I would not have believed them!

We kick-started the year by competing at a few affiliated competitions and quickly gained our qualification for the Petplan Area Festival. I then aimed for Tilly to compete on the British Young Riders Dressage Scheme, something that I had done with a previous horse. Our first BYRDS outing was to the stunning Badminton arena and I was a little apprehensive as to how we would get on! We had a great lesson with Steven Arnett followed by test riding just as the Beaufort Hunt came back for second horses!! Despite the distractions Tils pulled out a great test and we gained a score of 82.1% (my previous PB was low 70s). I was smiling for days!! We continued to attend BYRDS training and squadding where we gained our badge to represent Gloucestershire.

Picture above: Jess training, taken by Jess’ dad.

At the end of March we found out that we had been selected to represent Gloucestershire BYRDS at the ICC at the end of April and I was over the moon. Tilly had only competed at a handful of local shows by this point so this was a big ask for her to go on a long journey and stay away. We had the best weekend and Tilly was absolutely awesome. I couldn’t have asked her to be any better behaved! She lacked some confidence in the first squad test but gained a score of 79.57%. The second test of the day was a standard affiliated and we gained a respectable 3rd place in a very big class with 66.72%. On the second day we got a score of 81.79%. This was my first time back representing Gloucestershire in a couple of years and Tilly’s first-ever time at County Level.

Late May, we had a fun photoshoot as part of my sponsorship with Jo. Keeping the attention of the horses for each photo was tricky at times, but the horses all behaved incredibly well, even with all the lighting equipment being used. We absolutely love the results of the shoot and have some great photos to keep as life-long memories! Below are a few of our favourite images from the shoot!

Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford

Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford

In June we found out that I had been selected as a reserve rider for the South West team at The British Young Riders Dressage Scheme Inter Regionals in July. I was so happy to have made it to the reserves as this is Tilly’s first year doing BYRDS and there was a lot of competition.

We have continued to gain further qualifications for another Area Festival and we have also gained, in our first two attempts, our qualifying scores for winter regionals in the 2018 Novice Music Freestyle.

Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford
Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford

In mid-July we attended the area festival first round at Mount Ballan. Despite the sound of thunder in the distance, the rain mostly held off and we had a great warm-up. When our time came to do our test, the arena was spooky and windy but Tilly had a quick little look around and after a lap decided nothing was going to get her and she was fine to go into the  arena with the scary white boards and potted plants! The test was accurate and rhythmical but it lacked a little bit of extra energy due to Tilly backing off slightly due to the surroundings. Unfortunately we had an unlucky wrong canter strike off which cost us dearly from all 3 judges. We finished on a score of 62.57% to finish in 11th place – I missed getting through to the second round by one place.

Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford Gloucestershire horse photographer Jo Hansford

We train hard in between our competitions with Helen James. Helen has always been a massive support to me and gives me real confidence. We also work closely with Jo Hansford and with Dee from Dynamic Sports Therapy, who has been an absolute life saver for working on my painful shoulder. We decided it was time to get Dee to analyse Tilly and me as a unit during a Biomechanic session. It was very insightful to watch the video from the session and talk through with Dee how I can change things to help the overall picture. Dee also looked at Tilly on her own and she had soft tissue therapy, Oscillation therapy and Photizo light therapy. Considering her ‘snappy’ nature, Tilly was actually very accepting!

During our free time we very much enjoy exploring the Cotswold countryside, cantering through the local woods! We also occasionally see if we can give showjumping ago – it’s not where our talents lie but we have a lot of fun!

So, that’s our year so far, we now have a busy time coming up with the Area Festival and the Midway Championships, so fingers crossed for them! Thanks for reading.”

Thanks for your blog Jess, we’re excited about your future with Tilly! If any of you are interested in our Young Rider Sponsorship programme we will be launching our competition for next year’s riders later this year – just email us for more information.



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Jo and Nic Hansford are based in Bristol, Bath, Somerset and are available to travel nationally and internationally.

01179535801 | 07876344866


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