A scene from this summer’s Pony Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park: This serious young rider is ready to, well, ride. Look at that focused expression.
The grassy, rolling, limestone-based Kentucky countryside looks too perfect. Precise fencing geometries and gently rippling ponds are just too much. I’m reminded of the famous Microsoft Windows XP default wallpaper, “Bliss.” The key to making both images work, I think, is an overall very clean image with just enough small details and imperfections at the edges to show you that it must be real.
At the Kentucky Horse Park, the Kentucky Summer Classic has wound down and Pony Finals are about to begin. This particular arrangements of trainers, riders, and well-wishers was arrayed at the the warm-up ring, and the gradient of shadows beneath the tree branches brought to mind some modern take on a Renaissance painting: linear, repeating patterns and strong, horizontal lines.
This weekend, I photographed the Hunter Derby at Genesee Historic Village, outside Rochester, New York. Though I’ve been to many English riding events over the years, this was the first I’ve seen in the authentic setting of rolling hills and on-course trees. (They even had a pack of hounds out on course, early on.) Perhaps the most surreal part of the weekend was seeing the period reenactors (in their historically accurate garb) next to the riders (also in heavily historically inspired gear).
Riders are the stars of the show (in this case, the Kentucky Summer Classic), but I love to see the way the natural form of horse and rider fit into the lines and structures, tents and fences, of the grounds. Where do the spectators, trainers, grooms (and photographers) fit into that equation? Are we also a part of the horse show structure?