Devon Horse Show 2022 Mega-Post

Decaseconds may have begun as a photo-a-day website, but I occasionally like to break our rules and bring a mega-set of images for full immersion in a surreal event.

In this case, that event is the 2022 Devon Horse Show—a folded-together hyperspace of top-tier English riding and county fair inside an otherwise-upscale residential neighborhood outside Philadelphia. That overstuffed experience is best captured in this image of riders warming up in front of a Ferris wheel.

Fun and Games

“Devon blue” is a lovely, light-blue shade that’s covering almost every surface at the show.

Jumping with an Audience IThe small amount of space means the spectators are close to the action.

Watching the Jumpers at Devon I

The warm-up ring and storage areas are likewise squeezed in amongst the barns and area homes.

Warm-Up Ring and Shops

In spite of the odd setting, the same special moments of human-horse connection still remain.

Horse Pats

The maroon barns seem an… odd choice… in combination with Devon blue.

Devon Barn

This rider got the same color-choice memo the seats did.

Spectator on Blue Seats

The warm-up ring is a place for more than just warm-ups; a lot of conversations seem to fit well into its edges.

Warm-Up Conversations

Though the show occurred over Memorial Day, unseasonably cool weather kept many riders in winter jackets.

To the Ring

When I say that the horse show is taking place in a residential area, I’m not kidding: the gray house just behind the bands in this shot is a private home, outside the horse show. Everything is happening in a tiny space.

Pony in front of House

This shot doesn’t have anything profound to say beyond a bright explosion of the importance of water to horse shows: from the drinks in riders hands to the water used to keep rings from becoming dusty nightmares.

Water Bottles and Water Trucks

A moment of rising energy in the warm-up ring.

Kicking Off Devon

Jumper divisions produce some dramatic images, whether in profile…

Jumper in Profile

Or three-quarter view.

Jumping with an Audience II

This view again highlights how close the stands are to the action. Off in the distance, the concession area is also visible beyond the fence.

Watching the Jumpers at Devon II

Dramatic jump shots are most easily obtained when the photographer is practically under the jump.

Devon Show Jumping

The high rise of the stands also opens new opportunities to capture horses from above, as in this shot of warm-up ring traffic.

Warm-Up Herd

Riders waiting to compete (or recently finished) relax in the stands.

Rider Over the Shoulder

Another view of the warm-up ring and the local homes and businesses just beyond.

Warm-Up Ring at Devon

Jumping must be different with such a large and visible audience.

Jumping with an Audience III

Grays match well with bright orange jumps.

Flying Over

None of this would be possible without the hard work of the jump crew.

Devon Jump Crew I

A happy face after a solid round.

Exiting the Ring at Devon

Before an under saddle, many riders crowd the in gate.

Massing for the Class

Another member of the jump crew, enjoying  the weather and company.

Devon Jump Crew II

The under saddle appears chaotic to an outside observer…

Devon Under Saddle

But those riding are focused.

Focused Under Saddle

Scenes from the Kentucky Horse Park in Spring

Though “one day, one photograph” is my typical style, the images from my springtime trip to the Kentucky Horse Park (mostly taken while hanging around at the warm-up ring) make a charming slice-of-life set.

Let’s start things off with The Plaid Horse‘s publisher, Dr. Piper Klemm, with Sundae.

Preparing SundaeWhile the warm-up ring is ostensibly a place to practice prior to showing, it also often the location of impromptu meetings and morning strolls.
Morning Walk and ConversationPiper Klemm on Sundae in the warm-up ring.

Schooling Ring Up to Speed

The warm-up is also a place for horses to shake out some energy and get any necessary attitude adjustment.

Chestnut Attitude

Dapples mean a healthy horse.

Dapple Energy

That preparation time made for positive results in the ring. Trainer Emily Elek congratulations Reuben.

Winning Sandwich

It’s bath time for a sweaty horse done with showing.

Bath Time

Compress-air-powered airbag vests are increasingly common on younger riders.

Vest

Early in the morning, the golf carts waited in lines outside the barns—mimicking the positions of nearby horses in their stalls in the barns.

Golf Carts Between Barns

Cell phone videos of warm-up make an exceptionally valuable tool for improvement.

Shade by the Ring

Reuben very occasionally sticks out his tongue and I find it funnier than I should.

Stroll with Tongue Out

A close overlap between conversation-walk and warm-up-canter in the warm-up ring.

Horse Trio

Piper on Reuben.

Surveying the Ring

The pattern of planting boxes reminded me of the pacing of strides riders seek to find approaching a jump.

Box Rhythm

Junior rider Lexi Miller relaxes between rounds.

Trunk Seating

Knight

This frozen moment of energy and will and concentration captures Lillie Keenan in the Grand Prix at the 2013 Fairfield County Hunt Club June Benefit Horse Show. Though it’s the incredible 2-meter jumps that really capture the attention in these events, for my moment, it’s the rocket acceleration leading up to a jump that makes for far more drama.

Knight

Guest Post: Desert Nightfall

Today’s post comes courtesy of Piper J. Klemm:

Mid-winter brings the Thermal horse show near Palm Desert, California. The whole scene is alien: the barren hills and the enormous, surreal jumps are watched over by the otherworldly poles of the lights. In HDR, the way these metal cylinders distort and section the landscape is fascinatingly exaggerated.

Desert Nightfall