Equestrian and Photography: A Perfect Combination
My first love of horses began as a child. I was enthralled with their beauty and gracefulness. I distinctly remember reading Black Beauty in elementary school, and one of my favorite movies as a teen was The Man from Snowy River, not because of the love story between two young people, but because of the risks the main character Jim Craig took to rescue a herd of prized thoroughbreds in the mountainous region of Melbourne, Australia. Additionally, I sketched horses in my drawing tablet and learned how difficult it was to accurately draw the curved but pointed ears, the long and bony legs, and the numerous muscular features from the horse's jaw to the horse's back end. "When god created the horse, he said to the magnificent creature: I have made thee as no other. All the treasures of the earth lie between thy eyes. Thy shalt carry my friends upon thy back. Thy saddle shall be the seat of prayers to me. And thou shalt fly without wings, and conquer without sword; oh horse." -Anonymous
My daughter has taken riding lessons since age 10. She is a red-haired, blue-eyed, do-it-my-way kind of girl. As such, she learned to ride bareback last year, and since then, she's known around the reserve as the girl who will not ride in a saddle. When asked why she prefers bareback, she states that she feels more at one with the horse, can feel his movements, and is simply more comfortable on his back rather than sitting in a stiff saddle. It has been a joy to see my daughter fall in love with the horsey-life.
Photography and equestrian really are a beautiful combination. As a photographer, I love photographing people because people are beautiful... any age, any size, any color. Second to photographing people is capturing images of horses. I recently attended my daughter's riding lesson with camera in hand and was even more pleased that a downpour had muddied the corral which often provides photographic details that a dry corral does not.
Each Sunday during spring, summer, and fall, Chukkar Farm and Polo Club in Alpharetta hosts matches on Sunday afternoons. My daughter and I recently spent a wonderfully relaxing afternoon at Chukkar Farm, and when time permits, we will be back before summer comes to an end.
Equestrian Photography, some may argue, is a niche that is succumbing to the way of cell phone photography. I will boldly state that no cell phone can span the focal length to 200 meters or more to capture a close-up image of the action when the person holding the cell phone is sitting in the stands or standing along the side-lines. The glass in a $2,000 telephoto lens will trump the cell phone any day of the week and twice on Sunday! I came across a site entitled "15 Epic Horse History Photos" in which photographers captured historic images dating to 1855. The most epic photo on the site is from June 4, 1864 with Ulysses Grant standing beside his horse "the day after suffering a bloody, hopeless, and lopsided defeat at the Battle of Cold Harbor. Grant’s men were pounded by the stronger position held by Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, and the Union suffered 12,737 casualties over 13 miserable days." (Sadly, over one million horses were killed during the Civil War.) Photography is the tool that helps us to remember past events and to cherish the sacrifices that others paid for our freedoms.
In summary, I believe that equestrian photography has served and will continue to serve many valuable purposes as well as for the sheer enjoyment of capturing the beauty of the equine such as that split second when all four hooves are in mid-air, that millisecond of time that the human eye cannot see. That is a magic moment made possible through the magic of photography.