Kentucky Summer

We’ve finished Kentucky Summer at the Kentucky Horse Park and I thought it was time for a mega-post of my favorite shots from the week.

A lot has to happen around the barn to get the horses and ponies ready to compete… But everyone needs a break from time to time. The ponies seemed interested in Will’s snacks.

Prince of Ponies

Will’s family dog, Slick the corgi, joined us in Kentucky this year.

Slick the Corgi

Rider Lexi Miller was out schooling ponies in the shadow of the Rolex Stadium.

Warm-Up by the Rolex

Maya Thomas likewise had her ponies to school. I really like this pony’s mane, which prefers to stick straight up.

Horseback Thumbs Up

Piper Klemm was jumping Reuben in the schooling ring. Her trainer, Emily Elek, looks on from the background.

Jumping Practice with Reuben

Lexi relaxes around the barn on a step ladder…

Lexi on a Ladder

…Or on a trunk.

Trunk Nap

Piper heads out on Reuben for a class.

Out of the Barn

A father and daughter have coffee-and-phone time in the morning.

Morning Coffee at the Horse Park

This horse’s whiskers were caught perfectly in the morning light.

Whiskers

Piper tightens Reuben’s string girth, a signature of Balmoral.

String Girth

In a parallel to the “dogs look like their owners” trope, I like photographing cases were riders match their clothes to their horses. Unsurprisingly, this seems to happen most with gray horses.

Horse Matches Clothes I

Horse Matches Clothes II

Back at the barn, boots need last-minute polishing before heading to the ring.

Pre-Ride Prep

Will wait to ride. The step ladder gets a lot of use for both climbing onto horses and waiting to do so.

Will

This horse is drying after a bath; the curly mane is a sign that braids have recently been removed.

Drying in the Aisle

Julia Rossow, here watching action in the schooling ring, is an assistant trainer at Balmoral.

Julia

That schooling ring can be an exceptionally chaotic place.

Warm-Up Ring Chaos

Following an under-saddle class, the winner is called forward to receive her ribbon while the rest of the large field watches.

Stepping Out as Winner

A Gucci belt is quite the warm-up accessory.

Tank Top

Piper gets some training advice from Emily Elek.

Training Advice

David Vega is an incredible horseman; Piper was honored that he made it to the ring to watch her show.

Reuben, Piper, and David

Hard work pays off with a wall of ribbons.

Lexi Hangs the Ribbons

Fields of St. Lawrence

Battling the breezes of late summer above the fallow fields of the North Country, this image might appear to be capturing the edge of a farm. In fact, this is the southeastern reach of St. Lawrence University’s rural campus. The stables, home of our IHSA riding team, are off in the distance.

Fields of St. Lawrence

August at the Barn

Big green fields at the edge of a forest are perhaps not what I normally associate with a college campus, but St. Lawrence University’s barn (technically the Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall) is indeed on its campus. Though the main halls and dormitories are off in the distance at the right of the image, effectively this entire picture is St. Lawrence’s campus. The perks of being a rural college.

August at the Barn

English Riding

Every sport has its distinctive style—just has Western riders are known for cowboy boots, chaps, and denim, English riders have their own garb. Though the style is very formal when in the ring, I’m particularly interested by the array of patterns and colors hidden under collars and sleeves that are revealed when in the barn.

English Riding

Dawn at the Barn

The Sun rises over the Adirondack foothills and St. Lawrence’s Elsa Gunnison Appleton Riding Hall. I was up early to fly the Phantom for a very particular reason: This weekend marks Derby Day, the completion of the 2016 St. Lawrence Summer Horse Show Series. Spectacular riding is on tap for Saturday!

Dawn at the Barn

Gracelynd in California

The shapes of the hills of California are odd and impossible by the standards of the Northeast. In spite of my time spent there, my brain has still not adjusted to the angles—either in the distance or under my own feet when I’m there. On a charming horse farm that might be at home in the early twentieth century, the sunbaked scene is too real to be real.

Gracelynd in California

Kentucky Horse Farm

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.

Kentucky Horse Farm