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 world of English riding has a history of recruiting Thoroughbred horses rejected from the race track to be hunters and jumpers. Though the preference for warmbloods has made this practice a bit less common than it used to be, Thoroughbreds continue to make it into the hunter world. This particular horse was just a few weeks away from time on the track.
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.
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.
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.
I spent Saturday at Horse Park at Woodside on the peninsula, photographing jumper events for The Plaid Horse. Sunburn aside, it was a productive weekend. I happened upon a particular angle near a jump where riders were forced to make a tight turn immediately after landing. That transition sideways meant some dramatic direction changes.
Some riders were even looking to the next jump around the bend while they were still in the air.
Though most sports have an age of peak ability, English riding seems to be wide open to riders of all ages (though the cost of riding horses can remain a separate barrier.) Today, I wanted to look back at some of my portraits from past horse shows. First, a shot of young Hanna Rose Egan at the 2014 Kentucky Summer Classic.
I’ve heard that dogs and their people start to look similar, but I’ve never heard an equivalent edict for horses and their owners. Perhaps that should be reconsidered in light of this portrait from the 2014 Lake Placid show.