It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, but I’m back to a normal schedule and ready to keep writing (and riding!). Two weeks ago was Pony Finals, and this past week was Green Hunter Incentive and International Hunter Derby Championships, so I was on my feet and running around for about two straight weeks. But I got to play a role in something so much cooler than I ever imagined. I’ve seen my fair share of International Hunter Derbies, but to get to see the finest derby horses in the country compete for the national championship and massive prize money was something so special I can’t put it into words.
The horses themselves are extremely impressive, and they made my photo-taking responsibilities very easy, but the hard work and dedication these riders and trainers put in to ensure the horses receive nothing less than the best is what is truly motivational. Each pair flowed around that giant ring of massive jumps like they’d been doing it all their lives, when in reality most of the pairs were relatively new to one another. Some of the horses were still green, but marched around and leapt over those fences like they were nothing (I stood next to some of them — they were NOT nothing).
As a team we captured so many beautiful moments both in and out of the show ring. These riders are so grateful for all their horses, trainers and owners do for them and it was made apparent by their displays of gratitude and love for the animals.
The horses so clearly want to please their humans, as well. They put in their best efforts (sometimes a little TOO much effort, as they left 2+ feet between their toes and the top of the jump) and they so patiently waited by the gate when awards ceremonies were approaching. I had forgotten how calming it could be to stand by the hunter ring after spending my past few years in the jumpers. Their soft, sweet expressions coupled with calm demeanor made them so lovely to be around and to photograph for 12 hours each day.
I’m motivated as ever to keep plugging at this photography thing after realizing how easy it is to get the hang of it. My photos were shared by so many people over the course of the five days, and someone even told me I captured one of her all-time favorite photos of her and her horse. It’s pretty thrilling to get that perfectly crisp image of the exact moment a horse snaps its knees together at the highest point imaginable, but it’s even more rewarding to get the sentimental shots, the ones that really show the love and the dedication behind the jumping shot.
So stay tuned as I continue event coverage over the next few months and have more exciting photos to share! Until then I’ll share a gallery of some of the week’s best photos.