I’ve recently been privileged to work on a number of shoots as part of the #MyHackathon fundraising campaign from international animal welfare charity –  Brooke.  The campaign is now back and live for 2018!   It’s a really simple concept… Ride 100 miles in 100 days and raise £100 for #MyHackathon and help working horses, donkeys and mules around the world!

Read on to find out more about Brooke and just how one of these photo shoots unfolded…

Brooke is named after one woman, Mrs Dorothy Brooke, the wife of a British Cavalry Officer.  Dorothy was a courageous woman who was determined to locate the ex military horses, mules and donkey’s who were sold into Egypt following the end of WW1 and destined to suffer a harsh and brutal working life.  A life that Dorothy Brooke felt a disgraceful way for these war hero’s to live out their final years.    When Dorothy did discover these pitiful animals she put pen to paper and wrote the press urging the public to step forward and find a way to help these suffering animals.  The public were appalled and the donations started to flood in and by the end of those first 3 years over 5,000 animals had been rescued.  Sadly many were too weak or old so were humanely put to sleep.  The others were able to live out the remainder of their short lives in comfort and care.

However this was only part of the story.

Dorothy Brooke knew she needed to provide a veterinary facility to help provide care to the thousands of working horses, mules and donkeys that lived in the Cairo area.  In 1934 she funded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital and the Brooke Hospital for Animals became a reality and a blessing for so many.

Today the Brooke continues to support the lives of working animals.  More than 900 individuals work for the organisation today, many of whom aim to provide care to the animals but also support, often in the form of education, to the 600million people who rely on these 100million working animals.  They work with local vets, saddlers and farriers to ease the pain and improve the working conditions for these hardworking animals.

Raising funds is paramount for the continued support to these animals and this is where you can get involved.

On March 12th Brooke is launching it’s 2018 renewal of their MyHackathon campaign.  It’s a really simple way for anyone and everyone with a horse to be able to raise some funds whilst doing nothing beyond what they might normally do with their horses…. hack!

Ride 100 miles in 100 days and raise £100 for #MyHackathon

See!  Ridiculously simple and very easy too.   You don’t have to ride every day, you just need to complete the 100 mile target within the 100 day duration the campaign is running for.  So if one day you only ride a mile, but the next you ride 5, great!

For this year’s campaign I was asked to photograph the face of the 2018 #MyHackathon, Claire Harker.  Many of you will recognise Claire as the face behind the fabulous Instagram account @life_through_the_ears which delivers a daily dose of life with Light Cavalry horse, Rock (AKA The Ears), as he hacks through Windsor Park and takes in the sights.   So off I went to shoot Claire & The Ears for Brooke’s campaign.   I photographed this amazing pair in the autumn of 2017 and had so much fun with them (you can read more about them and the Light Cav here Claire & Rock ) so when I was asked to be Brookes photographer for this launch I was thrilled!

On the day of our shoot I met Ellie from Brooke, together with Claire just on the outskirts of the Park, not far from where the Light Cavalry unit is based in Windsor.  Rock had been off games a little in the days prior to our shoot and so Claire (a civilian rider for the Light Cav) was able to draft in another Light Cav horse, Lexi, to do the ridden parts needed for our shoot.  Now, Rock is one very handsome near black gelding with a body stamp that typifies everything you think of when envisage Cavalry horses.  He also has a soft face that would be difficult to look past on any line up. However, when Lexi strode into view I smiled, a lot.  Tall, black, gleaming in the February sunshine and very, VERY pretty. Lexi is the only mare in the team and this girl know it!

Girl’s got swagger!

However like all the horses used by the Light Cav her manners and temperament under saddle are wonderful.  She was super lovely to work with and filled Rock’s shoes well during our time together, although he was sorely missed as he is the absolute Prince of pricked ears!

Once the ridden aspect to our session was over we headed back to the stables to hand Lexi back and then on to see Rock for some additional shots of Claire and Rock together in their own yard.   It was so fabulous to catch up with both of them again, Rock’s ears did their usual perky stance and all the hair (or floof, as Claire refers to it) was on fine form too.  Honestly you just want to bury your face in that neck and not let go.   He’s full of character and he’s eyes can quickly tell you a story.  As mentioned before he’d been off games in recent days, so when his bridle and saddle came out for a quick photo you could see the utter confusion in his eyes! Ever the Pro though, he switched to performance mode and merrily did his stuff for us all.

I’m so thrilled that Brooke have them so heavily involved with this years #MyHackathon campaign – they are the perfect equine representatives for this and you just know that their Instagram feed will be full of great moments as they go through their own 100 miles.

For more details on how you can get involved head to Brooke and click the link to this years campaign.

You can also keep up with them on social media here: Facebook – Brooke or Instagram – Brooke

To keep up with Claire & Rock, follow their adventures here Instagram – Life through the ears


Please do have a go at this years #MyHackathon, or if you can’t, then help those that are by donating to them!

Have a fabulous day!

Rachel x