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Horse-shows are a lot like weddings. They follow a certain predictability, while simultaneously providing emotional highs and lows. For a photographer, competitions provide endless stories, guts and glory to observe and record. As someone who has shot the action aspect of equestrian sports, it is very exciting and is a skill all its own when it comes to timing and capturing those fleeting moments in between—a quick hand bushing across the crest to say well done, a smile, a tear, a millisecond between taking the Gold and losing it all …a complete drama can play out. As alluring as it is to photograph, my real obsession lies with what goes into producing those few minutes in the ring. I had a taste of what goes into it all when I was grooming for a summer, and I want to highlight all that passion and hard work people pour into this sport, whether they are riders, trainers or grooms. Backstage , away from chasing perfection within those fence walls, a steady supply of human and equine interaction goes on. A subculture like no other, we load up and drive our horses across provinces and states, to live in tent cities for weeks at a time (ok maybe in a nice hotel or RV),  endure all sorts of weather, waking up at 5am to potentially fall in the dust or attain a personal best…all in the name of equestrian sport, and ultimately love of the horse and how he can make us feel. Have you seen Best In Show with Eugene Levy? If you haven’t you should and someone needs to get on making a mockumentary for the horseshow world, because as Equestrians, we need to have a healthy sense of humour! The series below captures a small fraction of the preparation leading up to the action, and what goes on immediately after. I used a Fuji x100F , which is a small fixed-lens rangefinder style camera, which works well for getting in close while not being too obvious. Telephoto lenses are great, but there’s something to be said for feeling like you’re right there, not watching from a sniper’s perspective. I also chose to process the images in a warm black and white, borrowing from Kevin Mullins (a UK photographer whose work and philosophy I admire) treatment of his images. Observing and reacting to moments as they happen, telling a complete story without saying a word—this is what photography is all about to me.

Comments

I really like the “warm black and white” used in these photos

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