David Robinson
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David Robinson

Achievements

About David Robinson

Based in Gloucester in the UK I am in the heart of the Eventing scene in England with Calmsden, Hartpury, Gatcombe and Badminton all within easy travelling distance. My horse is The Jazz Singer and I love taking action videos at Equestrian Events. I am the winner of the 2014 British Eventing Eventing Cinema competition.

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Being Harveywetdog: Reflecting on Inspiration and Creativity

Our friend, David Robinson, sat down and wrote about his background as an equestrian videographer and where his journey has taken him through the years. It’s a great look into the behind-the-scenes of some of our favorite compilation videos. Many thanks to David for his services! Be sure to check out his YouTube channel here.

There is an old adage which states that if a deal seems too good to be true then it probably is. And I sense that people feel this when I tell them, “Yes please, I really do want you to use my videos and I’m happy for you to use them free of charge; it really isn’t a problem.”

“What’s the catch?” they think. “What’s this bloke’s angle?”

Of course the answer is quite simple; I want something far more valuable to you than mere money. I want you to commit your time to watching the video, I want endorsement by you sharing the video with your friends and I want the credibility that your endorsement garners.

This simple deal is very much at the heart of what motivates me to continue to be Harveywetdog. It is important that the videos I produce are high quality, that the horses come across as the main characters and that the Harveywetdog brand continues to grow.

What is also important is that this growth is organic; fundamentally that means it has to be achieved by “word of mouth” and however you would define that in these days of social media. It certainly means that I’m not going to pay for views or pay to promote my page.

The Harveywetdog Mission

It’s taken me a few years to define that what started as a hobby, and is now in danger of becoming an obsession, could be summed up by my Harveywetdog Mission statement which is to:

  • Capture and promote the exciting beauty of horses in sport, principally dressage and eventing, by using HD video and stirring music
  • Grow organically and without sensationalism
  • Achieve 1 million YouTube views for the channel

The without sensationalism piece is important as well. Don’t come looking to me for “Horse Fails of 2015” all neatly packaged for you to gasp at.

That doesn’t mean if they happen in front of me I’ll edit them out, they are a feature of the sport after all, but they’ll only appear as a part of the overall event.

Early days

So how did it all start? Well I’ve always been more interested in the moving image, initially cine film, than still photography. This started when I bought my first Super 8 Kodak projector to watch some football films I’d obtained and soon after that I bought my first Kodak cine camera.

My parents bought me a top of the range Canon cine camera for my 21st birthday which served me well for a number of years until I had to accept that video was here to stay and make the inevitable switch to that medium.

With the video cameras I’ve been a solid Sony user all the way through from the early analogue tape devices through to today’s 4K Ultra HD Handycam. I’m of the generation that believe the Sony name stands for high quality and cutting edge technology. I’ve certainly learned it doesn’t necessarily mean cutting edge customer support.

Getting Started with YouTube

My earliest published videos were largely a collection of stills edited into a video with a music track. I started doing this for my own amusement and to mark significant events at work.

For horses it started because I was a bit bored sitting around all day at the Nationals. I then started supplementing the stills with snippets of video and this progressed to recording whole tests which I could then publish.

At first I limited this because the video camera wasn’t recording with sufficient quality but that all changed when I upgraded to the HDR-PJ780VE in 2013 and recorded a number of tests at the Hartpury Festival of Dressage.

The music that accompanies my videos has always been important to me. The channel strap line is where Music Meets Motion. This is at the heart of my creative influences.

I hear a song or piece of music, I think how can I use that, and then the creative processes take over and I will not rest until it is published. This started with “Captain Sunshine” in 2011 and is still going strong with “Happy” and “The Fall” in 2015.

Where Music Meets Motion

At one time I felt every piece of video needed a piece of music. I’m less insistent on that now mainly because with the longer Eventing videos it is difficult to find the length of music track to match it and also because I’ve found my audience do like to hear the commentary and sound from cross country control, the fence judges, radios etc.

That’s not to say I’m not still inspired by music, it is an important source of inspiration to me. I’m always drawn towards the chilling rather than the bouncy exciting stuff, something that can create atmosphere, drama and suspense.

As I said when I published “The Fall” after Aldon International in Autumn 2015, “Slow motion, close up, spraying water, a bit of angst and a lot of beautiful horses and skilful riding are very much the Harveywetdog trademark and I trust this video, which is my celebration of the end of the 2015 eventing season, won’t disappoint.”

Going Eventing

I’ve always been a keen follower of eventing as a sport and thought that riding cross country is what riding a horse was all about. Unfortunately many, many lessons with Nigel Taylor at Somerford Park were not enough to convince my Cleveland Bay Max that it was the sport for him. But it’s the journey that’s important isn’t it? As I’ve got older my recent trips to events have taken on a more social intent or a chance to walk the dog and see some cross country.

Badminton 2013 seems to be the first time I published a video recorded at an event and the four minutes of “Brave”, containing the inspirational shot of Andrew Nicholson and Avebury, have continued to be a firm favourite with channel viewers.

I also recorded at Blenheim and the Festival of Eventing in 2013 and it was at this time I became aware of the Eventing Cinema competition and made two entries towards the end of the year, one based on Hartpury International and one entitled “The Spirit of Eventing”. I didn’t win, but I got the bug!

Eventing Cinema

I went into 2014 with the full intention of winning the Eventing Cinema competition and set about the task with gusto. The format of the competition changed with monthly heats building up to an overall winner.

I started strongly with Vicki Hancox at Broadway on the Easter weekend. As always with competitions you have to play by the rules and the rule that I found the most difficult to deal with, and creatively stifling, was the one around the rights to the music. But I persevered, I won trips to Badminton, Bramham, Barbury and Burghley and won the overall title with my video from Gatcombe and a piece of Royalty Free Music by Capo Productions.

I recorded 35 different cross country courses at a variety of venues in 2014 and this together with excellent views for my videos of Badminton, Burghley and Carl Hester at Hartpury gave the Channel 240k views in the year a feat which it is going to be difficult to repeat.

Accreditation 2015

Having won in 2014, I knew it would be bad form to take part in Eventing Cinema 2015 so I wasn’t particularly worried when British Eventing decided not to run the competition at all.

I suppose I imagined I’d continue in 2015 where I’d left off in 2014, explore and record a number of different courses, make a few special videos and generally keep the channel moving.

The first indication I had that things were different was when I received a tweet from Gatcombe saying that we needed to talk urgently — you just know that it isn’t going to be good news, which became clear in a later phone call when I was told that I should have asked for permission before videoing there.

British Eventing explained that the rule was really intended to prevent commercial exploitation by professionals but to be on the safe side as an amateur I should ask permission from organisers “as a courtesy.”

This has been my modus operandi ever since and has served me particularly well when travelling long distances to record at the larger events where seeking permission generally involves seeking accreditation. I can’t begin to say how grateful I am to the Media Officers and Directors at a wide range of British Dressage and British Eventing venues up and down the country for giving me permission to work at your events — you know who you are.

Even more of a wakeup call for me was the day I got an e-mail from Hugh Thomas at Badminton specifically telling me I was not allowed to broadcast video of the International Course. I saw that as recognition of a sort and had had such a miserable day in the wind and rain at Badminton in 2014 that I was prepared to oblige! However Hugh and his Media Director Julian Seaman did agree to me videoing at the Grassroots which was good because it enabled me to feature Fern Wrighton but bad because we had the high winds and torrential rain on that day instead!

Cotswold RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association)

Another aspect of the Harveywetdog year is providing the music for the Cotswold RDA musical ride each spring and then videoing their entry for the RDA National Competition. Having won the competition three years in a row it has become increasingly challenging to come up with new ideas and new musical themes.

This year the helpers set the “Flying” theme but various things conspired to mean we weren’t at our best on the day of recording yet still managed a creditable second place nationally. (Me forgetting my monopod didn’t help!)

However the Group were given the chance to reprise the ride in front of the Princess Royal when she visited the Centre in July and I’ve got to say it was a super emotional performance; the team absolutely nailed it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

4K Ultra HD; looking forward and looking back

2015 has seen me invest in a new 4K camera. The difference won’t be immediately obvious on YouTube but it does help when I come to take stills off the videos. Fortunately my local Broadband exchange has been upgraded and while upload speed remains pitifully slow it is now practicable to upload a 4K dressage test in a reasonable time. I plan to spend the winter getting used to the camera and learning how to better edit the output it produces. This will probably require some new software and a new PC.

What has been nice this year has been the increasing number of people around the events that I know, can shake hands with and ask how they’re getting on. This includes fellow videographers, photographers, fence judges, organisers and competitors. It has also been great to catch up with Vicki Hancox and her team again and to see Fern Wrighton qualify for the Mitsubishi Cup in 2016.

For 2016, I intend to expand my horizons further and look for some new events to visit as well as returning to the local events who have looked after me in the past and have established themselves as my favourites. Hartpury obviously but Calmsden has also impressed me and seems to have room for expansion; will we see an International Competition there one day?

Of course as one star rises (no pun intended) another wanes; the one thing that has struck me in the little time that I’ve been managing the channel is how quickly things change. So I’m ultra-proud of the record I’m creating for posterity.

This is not just in terms of the equine stars that we have lost, but also in terms of great venues, almost institutions, that are gone as well. Salperton, Somerley and Weston Park International are names of great events that I’m now helping to live on in our memories.

Being Harveywetdog

As I said at the beginning I’m more than happy for any organisation, owner, rider or event to use my material using the links from YouTube. Where possible, I’ll make clips available for use on your own social media; you only have to ask but it does help if you ask before the event rather than after it.

I hope that’s given you an insight into the Harveywetdog Project and what it takes to be Harveywetdog. It all comes down to patience, long hours on the motorway, a bit of nerve, the eye for a good angle through a combination and being brave enough to fill the view finder with horse while thinking, “I can make something with this.”

Footnote

Silly but true: Harvey was the name of our German Wire Haired Pointer; I created the name Harveywetdog in frustration one evening when I needed a user name for something and Harvey Robinson had already been taken.

Capturing the 2015 Festival of British Eventing

The splendid Gatcombe Park is situated in the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, England and is not only the home of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal but is also the setting for the annual Festival of British Eventing this year presented by the British Equestrian Trade Association (BETEA). Here is my blog of two days at Gatcombe and four circuits of the cross country course to capture video action from all four competitions across the weekend!

William Fox-Pitt and Ramdam de Mons survey the Gatcombe 2015 Intermediate Show Jumping Course William Fox-Pitt and Ramdam de Mons survey the Gatcombe 2015 Intermediate Show Jumping Course

After Hartpury, Gatcombe is my closest major eventing venue. One of the things I love about Gatcombe is that, unlike Burghley, I know where the Advanced Land Rover car park is. So armed with this knowledge and media accreditation I set out on the morning of Saturday to video the Novice and Intermediate cross country courses and some Intermediate show jumping in the time prior to the Cross Country starting.

I couldn’t spend a lot of time with the show jumping but I was delighted that, having set up my camera at the edge of the Land Rover hospitality area, Bert Bolton and Purple Sands entered the arena to jump. I’ve said before how supportive Bert’s mum Fizz has been of the Harveywetdog project and it’s nice to repay people’s kindness with a quality video.

Having enjoyed Land Rover’s hospitality I set out for the start of the cross country course where Harry Dzenis and Cruise A Crosstown kicked things off. I quickly made my way around the Dodson & Horrell British Novice Championship Course. As you will see in the video the course was suitably challenging, a point brought home in harsh reality when Dunganstown Fleur and Sarah Holmes had a crashing fall in front of me at Fence 19 “The Dodson & Horrell Punt.”

The fall of horse and rider was bad enough but was made worse by the poor fence judge who having caught hold of Fleur (who as you will see from the video managed to get the red flag caught in her tail as she rolled over the fence) was then knocked over twice and was lucky not to be trampled on. As a foot note the fence was jumped again in the Corinthian Cup the next day but by then had acquired three roundels to emphasise the fence to the horses.

Saturday afternoon was spent making a second circuit of the Gatcombe Course in order to video theaction on the Smith and Williamson British Intermediate Championship cross country course. With a larger entry I was able to spend more time at each fence to capture the action.

The light was particularly good at the water jump later on in the afternoon and I was very pleased with the definition on my video of Cooley Lord Lux and Flora Harris at the water so once I’d completed all the videos on the Gatcombe playlist I used this piece of action as my Instagram trailer and a still as the thumbnail for the Intermediate video on You Tube.

Generally these days I record show jumping on the tripod and cross country on the monopod. The tripod gives me greater stability when I need to zoom in across the show jumping arena and the monopod gives me a degree of stability but also allows me to move quickly around the cross country course especially when time is of the essence.

For my part, having successfully completed two circuits of the hilly Gatcombe Park course, it was time for a final Cappuccino and then make my way home. As I’m now very disciplined about the order I video the courses in and with a relatively small number of entries in the Novice I was able to get that video edited and uploaded and out in time for Sunday morning.

Final thought on Saturday: Toward the end of the Novice I thought, I’ve got lots of video of Andrew Nicholson, I’ll just take a HD still of him jumping the last fence on MGH Grafton Street which I did. I used the picture of Andrew for my thumbnail. Little did I realise that approx 24 hours later this would be the fence where Andrew would have his career threatening fall with Cillnabradden Evo.

Sunday tends to be the main day at Gatcombe so it was up early, coffee at the Starbucks on the outskirts of Stonehouse and then through Stroud and into the Land Rover advanced parking to sign in at the media centre. A further cup of coffee and a bacon roll were taken at the Land Rover hospitality in the Park Bowl (look out for them at Burghley) and then it was off and around the course to capture the action in the new TopSpec Challenge for the Corinthian Cup.

I took my time around the course, but having completed and having got back to the main arena to find the Open Championship Show Jumping had finished early it was back to the Media Centre for a coffee and sandwich before heading back to the cross country start where Matthew Heath and The Lion were due to kick things off at 14:20.

The final phase is the cross country which is run in reverse order following the show jumping with the top placed combination going last. Having picked up my copy of the running order I noticed that there were quite a few withdrawals due to the ground being quite hard and although I can understand the decision to put your horse away for another day it is hard on the paying public (and me who has to get round the course in double quick time!).

It was quite an eventful afternoon — you’ll hear the announcement of Andrew Nicholson’s fall at the final fence, you’ll see Andrew Hoy fall from Rutherglen at the Skinny Brushes, and you’ll see some lovely smooth riding from New Zealander Jonelle Price and Australian Christopher Burton as they take on the water complex towards the end of their rounds which saw them take second and first respectively.

What you want see is Paulank Brockagh, having disposed of 2014 Badminton winner Sam Griffiths, charging for home past me off the course and running into a couple of spectators in doing so.

I  have provide a link to the Open video at the top of the blog. All the videos from my weekend at the Festival of British Eventing presented by The British Equestrian Trade Federation (BETA) are available on the Harveywetdog You Tube channel. Watch, like and share!

Monday Videos from Tredstep Ireland: Behind the Scenes at Bramham

So how can I sum up Bramham in four words? Let’s try “wildly exceeded my expectations”! I’m not sure what those expectations were exactly, but what I found was easy access and egress, helpful stewards and media centre, knowledgeable and appreciative crowd, acres of grass land which meant there was space to absorb the crowd all combined with two exciting cross country courses and a host of star riders and horses.

But to start at the beginning, I nearly let the rain forecast put me off and not go. Luckily I saw the weather forecast late on Friday night (OK, early Saturday morning) and realised that an improving Bramham was better than a soggy Gloucestershire and reverted to plan A. This was lucky because I’d asked West Wilts late for permission to video there but they had refused on the grounds that they’d arranged for someone else.

On paper it is a good drive to Bramham from Gloucester; more or less Motorway or dual carriageway all the way. There is a stinker 50 mph section of roadworks North of Nottingham on the M1 currently and there was a lot of surface water and spray. But I achieved my objective of getting there in time to avoid any queues and allowing time for a Costa Cappuccino at Tibshelf.

Thankfully the signs took me to the North Lodge Entriance and from there the Stewards very efficiently directed me towards the Officials car park from where I was able to make my way to the media centre to sign in and pick up my pass.

I videoed a couple of rounds of CIC show jumping and then headed off to the CCI cross country course. Now while I was in the media centre Winnie had suggested I might like a lift to the cross country course. I said the walk will do me good. All I will say is it is a long walk round to the cross country start at Bramham!

Just as I arrived at Fence 2, Paul Tapner appeared to have a spectacular tumble from Prince Mayo. I heard the bang as they hit the roll top and turned round to see them both sliding along the ground after the fence. Assuming both were OK that would have made a great bit of video if only to see what actually happened.

It was raining early on so I kept the camera in a bag until the time I need to use it and as it wasn’t too windy managed to keep the lens dry. The course was, as you’d expect, big and challenging and ran across lovely park land which the overnight rain had made excellent going. After the cows and the ice cream cones at three things got really serious at the corner complex 4 followed a couple of fences later by tests of accuracy and nerve with the Equi-Trek Round House and Leap.

After the Round House the CCI course heads out in the country and a mixture of flat galloping sections and undulations. At the far end of the course a new section of track had been developed in the woodland which gave the chance for some corner brushes on the turn before heading through the Suregrow Keyhole and dropping down to the Kidney Ponds which is the first water on the course.

The course then makes its way back towards the trade stands with the Woodhead Seeds Hollow being described by Ian Stark as the toughest question on the course. There is a section of course where horses heading for home pass those heading out on the final loop around the Front Park.

This loop featured the Generator Power Brush Fence which caught a few people out with the big ditch in front of the brush, It also features the second water on the course with the Bond Dickinson Pond and once through the water it’s four more jumping efforts and home.

I had a nice moment when Nicola Wilson explained to me as she hacked home that she had had to pull up Bulana after fence 3 because the mare had simply been too strong and that “you can’t carry on like that”.

For the CCI I was really strict with myself; all the fences in order and no mixing it up. So the video shows you the morning as it unfolded and there isn’t any commentary that is out of order. The same can’t be said about the Under 25 video as with only about 20 competitors I wasn’t going to make it all the way round the course again (it had taken me about 4 hours to get round the course the first time).

My plan with the U25 was to see the first few around the corners at 4 and then head to the second water in time for Bert Bolton and Purple Sands. Bert’s mum, Fizz, had been one of the earliest supporters of my Harveywetdog Facebook page so it was important to me to capture them at one of the feature fences. Bert rode the water complex very confidently and it was a shame to hear later that a little knock had prevented them from completing day 3. Next time!

After the U25, I allowed myself ten minutes for a little lunch and then I was off again around the CIC course which was thankfully considerably shorter. The sun shone and it just makes the videos so much sharper. The crowd seemed thinner in the afternoon or perhaps people were sitting and watching in the sunshine rather than walking the course.

I wasn’t quite so disciplined in the afternoon with my fence order as I videoed the final four fences first to avoid the long back from the final fence at the end of the day. I also videoed Pippa Funnell and Louise Harwood before I videoed Traitors Ford who is the horse who appears at the start of the video.

I was in the car and off the course as soon as Watermill Vision had passed and the exit and getting onto the A1 was unbelievably easy. As I headed south I soon ran into the banks of rain sweeping across the country which made me glad that I had decided to spend the day at Bramham.

There are a total of five videos in my Bramham playlist; the popular Under 25 CCI cross country video, the full CCI course and the full CIC course, and two CIC show jumping videos featuring Ruth Edge and Jamie Atkinson.

Wayback Wednesday: Watch 90 Minutes of 2000 Burghley Horse Trials

EN’s good friend David Robinson, better known as harveywetdog, unearthed some old VHS tapes of the BBC Grandstand coverage of the 2000 Burghley Horse Trials and posted them on his blog, which he’s kindly allowed us to reprint an excerpt of here. This year had a certain famous Mr. Stickability moment that you can see at about the 2-minute marker of the third video, but you really have to watch the full 90 minutes. Thank you, David, for these wonderful videos!

As 2000 was an Olympic year, a number of the British team were already in Sydney waiting for the start of the competition. The commentary makes reference to this, describing Chris Bartle and William Fox-Pitt as unfortunate to have missed selection and others taking advantage of some of the stars being missing.

Not missing are New Zealanders Andrew Nicholson and Mark Todd, both for whom this turned out to be a memorable Burghley — one for an unforgettable moment of perseverance and recovery and one because this was supposed to be his final competition in England (and one because he won the competition!).

In the video we see Vere Phillipps riding his late wife Polly’s horse Coral Cove to finish in a creditable fifth place, and when interviewed by Clare Balding, Vere admits he’s beginning to enjoy dressage.

The format is familiar today with a mix of course walk, dressage and cross country action to start interspersed with interviews in the lorry park before switching live to Clare for the final of the show jumping. There’s possibly more in the show jumping section than we’d get today, and we do see the winner pick up his prize.

There’s a nice moment when you can see Toddy having a (cigarette) in the background with his mates and another moment when Chris Bartle looks a little lost; perhaps he was looking for the German team?

Clare pulls the whole thing together professionally — and apologies that it looks like she has a fly on her nose at the beginning; it’s just a trick of the recording. As this is Olympic year, we are treated to an introduction to the 3DE by Michael Peschardt with a story which covers the transport of the horses and the water complexes.

The coverage is all you would expect from the BBC; the course is described as not as tough as previous years. The riders are open and honest; Merran Wallis admits she wouldn’t have wanted to go any faster, Fox-Pitt is forgiving of Moon Man’s stop and knows there’ll be another day, and Vere Phillipps’ efforts are both moving and commendable.

Perhaps the competition will be most remembered for Andrew Nicholson’s amazing recovery in part 3, but I hope you will view the whole 90 minutes as a great reminder of a golden age of eventing coverage on the BBC.

This playlist will take you through all four videos.

Editor’s note: In addition to the riders mentioned here, you’ll also see Americans like the late great Beale Morris, who finished sixth aboard Pathfinder, as well as Darren Chiacchia in the video. USEF team selector Marcia Kulak was our next highest placed American, finishing 24th with Talk Back. And Mike Winter finished 26th for Canada with Deltry Regality. Jonathan Elliott also completed, finishing 36th with Kilcoltrim. Click here for full results.