Too Many Ponies at Sunset

“Too many” may be an exaggeration, but a field full of ponies on a Kentucky evening sure feels like it’s pushing the limit.

Too Many Ponies at Sunset

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Old and New Kentucky

While the Interstate system feels like an ingrained part of American culture at this point, its presence (in the Eastern U.S., anyway) is revealed as a late addition from a drone’s eye view: the original patterns of farms and country roads has this massive strip of highway laid atop it.

Old and New Kentucky

Rays from the Barn

Drones open up all kinds of new perspectives, but these vantages don’t always have to be extreme or dramatic. The equivalent height of an aerial work platform presents just the correct geometry to get these rays from the setting sun to explode from the roof of a recently renovated barn outside Lexington, Kentucky.

Rays from the Barn

Boat Dock Before It Opens

A quiet early morning at Mohonk Mountain House’s dock has a place for every boat and every boat in its place. I like the way the path of the dock mirrors the path of the mountaintop in the distance. This calm-before-a-busy-day setting is also a metaphor for Decaseconds: I finished processing all of my pictures from a trip to Mohonk at the end of last summer. Like the boats, my work is organized and ready to be shared.

Boat Dock Before It Opens

Bridge Between Counties

Bridges between counties in the approximately southern United States mostly remind me of Smokey and the Bandit, but this one between Woodford and Scott counties in Kentucky differs both in that (1) it’s not currently out, necessitating a dramatic jump, and (2) it’s experiencing a far more peaceful evening.

Bridge Between Counties

The Day Before Pony Finals

Progressing through important summer horse show days finally brings us to the verge of Pony Finals. To whatever extent the event was subdued in 2020 and 2021, 2022 brought back the full experience.

Around Stonewall Farm, Pony Finals wouldn’t have been possible without the work of a whole team of young equestrians. Catching them in a rare group shot felt like a rare alignment of planets.

The Day Before Pony Finals I: The Squad

Naturally, that was because of the amount of time spent ferrying to and from the Rolex ring. As in past years, golf carts play a key role.

The Day Before Pony Finals II: Golf Carts

In the ring, young riders have time to school and explore the space before they return for scored trips beginning the next day. Behind this squad, the VIP sits empty.

The Day Before Pony Finals III

There’s a mix of high stakes and informal context that makes this day before Pony Finals fascinating.

The Day Before Pony Finals IV

The formal riding clothes that will make up the next few days, the spectators in the stands, the judges, the jumps—all are absent.

The Day Before Pony Finals V

There’s even time to stop for a snack…

The Day Before Pony Finals VI

…Or for a group photo.

The Day Before Pony Finals VII

The huge expanse of the Rolex’s footing makes for some remarkably neutral backgrounds. Details in horse and rider are all that stand out.

The Day Before Pony Finals VIII

Back at the barn, pony after pony goes out for schooling or trials.

The Day Before Pony Finals IX

Will awaits a pony on the way back from the ring.

The Day Before Pony Finals X

Megan gets Piper’s horse out of his stall…

The Day Before Pony Finals XI

And grooms him.

The Day Before Pony Finals XII

Piper heads off to ride.

The Day Before Pony Finals XIII

The schooling ring is as busy as the Rolex.

The Day Before Pony Finals XIV

In the warm-up, young riders focus on perfecting their rides.

The Day Before Pony Finals XV

The Day Before Pony Finals XVI

Piper in the ring—with some good advertising.

The Day Before Pony Finals XVII

The Day Before Pony Finals XVIII

“Maybe the real Pony Finals champions were the friends we made along the way.”

The Day Before Pony Finals XIX

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day

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.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day II: Dueling Phones

There’s always a need for more cold water bottles.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day I: Bringing Water Bottles

Will and Papaya receiving coaching from Bob Crandall…

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day III: Hi, Bob!

…Before putting that advice into action.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day IV: Will on Papaya

I’m always on the lookout for a pony with a positive attitude and unique coat.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day V

Out: Hermes belts. In: Gucci belts. I guess everyone watched the movie.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day VI

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.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day VII

Smiles like this are why we’re all there at the show.

Kentucky Summer Classic Warm-Up Day VIII

More from the Kentucky Summer

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.

Dr. Piper Klemm on Horseback

Team Stonewall Farm is looking pretty gregarious.

Equestrian Laughs

Will, on the other hand, looks surprised—and should probably be wearing a helmet.

Blowing Back Some Hair

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!

Show Ring Landscape

We’ll finish as we began, with Piper looking excited to be riding Reuben.

Down the Line

Kentucky Summer 2023 Day 1: Warm Up

Thumbs up! Let’s get into another mega post! We’re exploring shots from the first day of the Kentucky Summer horse show, which took place at the Kentucky Horse Park back in the end of July.

Day 1 Warm-Up I: Thumbs Up

Piper Klemm talks to her trainer, Emily Elek.

Day 1 Warm-Up II

Then she heads into action in the warm-up ring.

Day 1 Warm-Up III

Emily’s son, Will, was also warming up his horse, Papaya. Across these three shots, you can see him working on finding the correct distance to this jump.

Day 1 Warm-Up IV: Will and Papaya

Day 1 Warm-Up V: Will and Papaya

Day 1 Warm-Up VI: Will and Papaya

Piper seems to always be smiling when she’s on her horse; understandable, really.

Day 1 Warm-Up VII

Beyond the team which whom I arrived, there were a lot of other folks in the warm-up ring, too.

Day 1 Warm-Up VIII: Cross-Rails

Sometimes, my camera locks on a rider because they have such an identifiable style. Here’s yet another case of mirrorshades in Kentucky.

Day 1 Warm-Up IX: Shades

We’ll finish off with the serious face of Jimmy Torano.

Day 1 Warm-Up X: Jimmy Torano

Rain Before Kentucky Summer

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.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer I

Piper hangs out with her horse, Reuben, while he has a snack.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer II: Piper and Reuben

Slick the Corgi is just excited to be here.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer III: Slick the Corgi

Piper gears up for a ride in the rain.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer IV: Putting on Boots

Look at that grin! Even in the rain, Piper’s having fun.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer V: Smiling and Riding in the Rain

The deep greens make for some dramatic shots.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer VI

Emily Elek, Piper’s trainer, observes her warm-up from under a tree. The pony with her is working on his social skills.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer VII: Coaching from Beneath a Tree

The rain paused and the wet raincoat could come off; the smile remained.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer VIII: Chin Up

There seems to be an understanding.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer IX: Reaching an Understanding

The trip back to the barn makes some great long perspective shots.

Rain Before Kentucky Summer X

Saratoga Horse Show 2022

The quiet moments of winter are the times when I look back on my photographic year and finally finish uploading my favorites. The rhythms of 2022 meant a particularly huge backlog, so here I find myself with far too deep a set of uploads to handle at a pace of one-per-day. As a result, I’ll be spacing some horse show mega-posts among my normal posts.

First in the set is Saratoga Horse Show, back in June 2022.

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 I

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 II

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 III

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 IV

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 V

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 VI

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 VII

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 VIII

Saratoga Horse Show 2022 IX