Margaux Loop

Nearly the entire territory of Margaux has been adjusted (terraformed, if you will) to serve its equestrian focus. I appreciate, however, the more pleasing, smooth shapes to the roads and paddocks, in the place of the grid system that might have otherwise been manifest.

Margaux Loop

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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

BERMUDA in Devon, PA

The Devon Horse Show in Pennsylvania is currently happening, and what a happening it is: the nation’s most prestigious horse show, sandwiched together with a county fair, all folded up into a posh Philadelphia suburb. I’ll be posting more from the show in coming days, but figured I would warm up figuratively with this literal warm-up ring shot from the first morning of the show.

BERMUDA in Devon, PA

Horses Among the Preparations

The background of this image—fleets of golf carts, tons of bedding, parking lots of trucks and horse trailers, plus busy grooms and working students—is a good reminder of the effort that goes into the equestrian experience happening in the foreground.

Horses Among the Preparations

Pony Finals Mega 2021/2020

The start of August marked Pony Finals 2021 (and a partial re-do of the aborted Pony Finals 2020.) Unlike recent years in the Walnut Ring, this year’s Pony Finals was held in Kentucky Horse Park’s dramatic Rolex Arena—and I was there with media credentials for The Plaid Horse.

Pony Finals in the Rolex Arena

Getting the show up and running meant moving a lot of resources, like the stack of bedding here, around the Horse Park… But the result was occasionally some unfortunate traffic jams.

Fork(Lift)ing Traffic

Rails for jumps, likewise, were stacked up and ready to go.

Rail(s) Down

The pony model classes happened relatively early on in the competition. Though spectators crowded the rails, stewards monitored them carefully to prevent any coaching of the young competitors.

Watching the Model

Carleton Brooks and Piper Klemm were among the spectators.

Mutual Respect

Achieving victory in the model has a lot to do with conformation. Front legs should be even with one another.

Pony Finals in the Rolex

When the class ended, the competitors exited beneath the massive Rolex sign.

Exiting the Rolex

Just outside the Arena was an area for warm up and golf-cart parking.

Golf Cart & Warm-Up Ring

Riders stand at attention during an under saddle class.
Awaiting Judgement

…Then exit the Arena in an orderly fashion when the class has ended. The pool of competitors in some divisions was so large that they were broken into multiple groups.

Under Saddle Complete

While some ponies were in the ring, others were in the schooling ring for trials.

Ride on Blake

With horses and ponies involved in all kinds of activities, the Horse Park had a festival atmosphere.

Walking Past the Warm-Up Ring

Small ponies look even smaller in front of big signage.

Warm Up with the Big Sign

And the huge Rolex Arena looks even bigger with a small pony in it.

Wide Rolex Stadium View

At the end of the day, though, this is ultimately about what pony and rider can do together in the ring.

Over Fences at Pony Finals 2021

Fences on fences on fences.

In and Out

The list of what pony is in what class… While this board might be small at some shows, here most divisions number in the dozens.

Order of Go

A bird’s eye view of the warm-up ring.

Close Golf Cart Parking

So many ponies are on the grounds that tents are used to supplement stall space.

Temporary Barns

Bath time outside the tent. Drying off the pony after washing is important to prevent overheating on humid summer days.

Squeegee Landscape

Back at the cottage, the trailer rests before another day as “pony taxi service”.

Trailer After the Rain in Kentucky

Young Ponies at Sunrise/Goat Paddock

Breakfast with ponies is the best way to start the day—but it’s only possible for me when we stay in Kentucky, where they can sometimes come home from the Horse Park in the evening.

Young Ponies at Sunrise

Though the cottage’s paddocks may be the charming/rustic remains of enclosures for goats, that doesn’t lessen the beauty of a sunrise over its tree-lined rim.

Goat Paddock

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

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