The hot day before the Kentucky Summer Classic was perhaps not in need of a literal warm up, but a warm-up day it nonetheless had.
Piper Klemm and her trainer, Emily Elek, were busy on their phones. Don’t call Emily—just text her if you want a response.
There’s always a need for more cold water bottles.
Will and Papaya receiving coaching from Bob Crandall…
…Before putting that advice into action.
I’m always on the lookout for a pony with a positive attitude and unique coat.
Out: Hermes belts. In: Gucci belts. I guess everyone watched the movie.
Grooms make all of this possible. I went with a deep depth of field here to allow for the big difference in size without either groom or rider being lost to bokeh.
Smiles like this are why we’re all there at the show.
Another multiphoto set, this one from the final days of Kentucky Summer at the Kentucky Horse Park. We’ll start off with Dr. Piper Klemm showing Reuben and looking appropriately happy about it.
Team Stonewall Farm is looking pretty gregarious.
Will, on the other hand, looks surprised—and should probably be wearing a helmet.
This wide, dramatic view of riders in the ring, the gate in, and folks sheltering from the rain outside is made all the more dramatic by the one young woman with no rain gear. Mysterious!
We’ll finish as we began, with Piper looking excited to be riding Reuben.
The day before July’s Kentucky Summer horse show was a rainy one—but there was still work to be done.
Naturally, though, we’ll start with a picture of Will taking a break from that work.
Piper hangs out with her horse, Reuben, while he has a snack.
Slick the Corgi is just excited to be here.
Piper gears up for a ride in the rain.
Look at that grin! Even in the rain, Piper’s having fun.
The deep greens make for some dramatic shots.
Emily Elek, Piper’s trainer, observes her warm-up from under a tree. The pony with her is working on his social skills.
The rain paused and the wet raincoat could come off; the smile remained.
There seems to be an understanding.
The trip back to the barn makes some great long perspective shots.
The beginning of August means a return to photography work in the equestrian world. Here, Dr. Piper Klemm, publisher of The Plaid Horse, warms up her horse, MTM Sandwich (a.k.a. Reuben).
Today’s subject is trainer Carleton Brooks of Balmoral, here training his newest hunter, Carleton Z (coincidental naming).
Chaps are not common English riders—britches are more common. The back of his chaps, where one might normally put identification information, is instead emblazoned with the phrase, “You Know My Name” in red. Click through to the full-sized version of this image to see for yourself.
This particular weekend was a bit of a miniature family reunion, as Carleton’s brother (far right) was up to visit from Indiana.
Horse shows are these magical intergenerational spaces where equestrians of all ages come to compete. In the three images below, I found a trio of similar images in which riders at different points in their careers traverse the frame from left to right.
The classic winter picture of clean, fresh snow and bright blue skies seems much easier to come by, ironically, under less-wintery conditions near the beginning or end of the season. Under the snow at the edge of the patch in the foreground, you can see that the grass is still green.
I’m told that visualization is key to a great hunter round, but I’ve never before captured quite so literal a photograph of the process in the warm-up ring.
When it’s time for their rounds, riders have to be ready to head into the ring and perform. Being late is not an option, so “hurry up and wait” is the standard: Lots frantic action to prepare, followed by lots of waiting. The sense of stillness amid chaos that goes with that waiting are captured well, I think, in this image.
When it comes to equines (and their riders), I’ve generally found that attitude is inversely proportional to size.
Anyone who says animals don’t have individual personalities has been spending time with the wrong animals.
Walking across the heat-shimmered horse park with a blue ribbon, the ultra-long shot maybe puts me in mind most of… the Mandalorian? That makes Reuben a very large Child.
Maybe it’s a little slump down in the saddle in the August sun of Kentucky, and maybe the glare is bright… Or maybe there’s a bit of pre-ride swagger.
On a baking summer day at the Kentucky Horse Park, white clothes and white horsehair match well with mirrored sunglasses to stay cool while looking cool.
A year onward from the 2017 Kentucky Summer Classic and Pony Finals, I’m looking back at many of the images I captured. Many of these only saw the light of day previously through my Instagram account, so I thought it’d be appropriate to give a complete spectrum of the the KHP experience. Some of these shots are the from the Rolex Stadium’s Grand Prix, others from the humble warm-up ring; all of them show people focused on the equine world.
These miniature dirt bikes are absolutely ubiquitous at Kentucky Horse Park as easy runabouts when a “full-sized” golf cart would be overkill. (And yes, I appreciate the humor that a tiny golf-cart is the three-row SUV of the horse world.)
Even these tiny bikes are more commonly seen with two riders—particularly in the vicinity of the snack bar.
Passengers are invaluable for coffee-handling duties.
Helmets, mandatory when on horseback, are evidently not à la mode for minibikes.