Pulling Off a Live Stream: Behind the Scenes with Horse & Country

Photo by Tilly Berendt.

Setting an alarm to watch your favorite rider burn around a cross country in Europe, watching show jumping from the comfort of your couch, or parking yourself in front of a jumbotron to get the full view of the course while on location at an event: thanks largely to Horse & Country, these enhancements have made spectating equestrian sports more accessible, convenient and inclusive.

Eventing Nation stepped behind the scenes with the H&C crew while at the Setter’s Run Farm Carolina International to see how they bring the excitement of eventing to your screen – a process that begins long before they arrive on the show grounds.

“For an event like the Carolina International, we know it so well we don’t start communicating with the venue until 60 or 90 days out, because we have a lot of familiarity with where the course will go and where cameras will be located,” explained David Qualls, Executive Producer at H&C. “Any new event would require a good six months – the more time the better.”

Some of the logistical setup for livestream sports coverage involves navigating permanent structures, like at the Carolina Horse Park, where a 12-inch conduit pipe had to be installed under a public road in order to connect the production trailer to the dressage phase, located a half a mile away.

A look inside the production room at Carolina International. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Other changes are temporary, where the relatively small staff spends the days immediately before the event burying fiber cables beneath the ground, ensuring the safe travel of horses and humans. With at least six cameras connected by more than 10,000 feet of fiber, that’s a whole lot of trenching!

With only about a dozen staff members handling everything from set-up to commentating, there are some seriously long days and flexibility required. “Other than going home and grabbing some dinner and a bit of sleep, we’ve been flat out,” Helen Murray, H&C Content Producer, shared before she stepped back into the production trailer to direct the next segment of dressage.

Commentator Holly Hudspeth is joined by Helen Murray. Photo by Sally Spickard.

Helen had arrived at the Carolina Horse Park two days before the competition to work on the logistics before stepping into her production role, collaborating with the regular commentator, Holly Hudspeth, and special guests to produce the live stream.

Holly, an accomplished upper level event rider, finds her job with H&C a welcome change from the intensity of competing. “I really enjoy just being able to take a step back to watch people, and really get to know the horses and riders,” she reflected, “because when I was competing myself I didn’t get that opportunity.”

Holly uses her knowledge about the sport coupled with some heavy- hitting guest commentators to provide the livestream audience with a unique perspective of the event. Notable names like Ian Stark and Bettina Hoy have shared the mic for H&C, providing insight to the competition happening on screen, while musing about their own past experiences (like Murphy Himself bouncing a one stride with Ian).

Photo by Tilly Berendt.

During a Thursday afternoon dressage section, Holly was joined by CCI5* rider, Meghan O’Donoghue. Meghan has been behind the mic a few times for H&C and finds it a great opportunity to help promote the sport of eventing.

“I think it’s a good challenge as a commentator to try to bring some added excitement and value to what these horses and riders are trying to do,” said Meghan.

For the Carolina International CCI4*-S division, the competition results came down to the wire, with winner Will Coleman, racing the clock to win by just 1.5 points. Once the last horse crossed the finish line, the H&C crew began the packing process, carefully collecting the miles of cable, cameras and computers and preparing to do it all again at their next live streamed competition.

If you’d like to support H&C as well as enjoy more live streams year-round as well as educational and entertainment content, we’ve brought back our discount code for 15% off an annual subscription. You can save 15% off an annual subscription here using code EVENTINGNATION15 – the code is case-sensitive.

Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International: [Website] [Final Scores] [On-Demand Replay] [EN’s Coverage]

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