I have recently become a horse nut.
I’m not going to lie – I’ve been looking forward to this horse show all year. It’s really dorky, but I’ve had this urge to photograph the Prince of Wales horse show since seeing Columbia Tribune photographer Parker Eshelman’s pictures the Stephens College International Saddle Seat Invitational last year.
It’s not that I’m a huge fan of horses, but I find them interesting. I feel as though horse culture is different from a lot of other rural hobbies because it is a little more majestic, requires a lot of different types of knowledge and care and seems very expensive. Although I lived on a farm in southern Missouri for five years with 27 acres of British White cattle, I do not feel as though having cows is in any way similar to having horses.
This year was the first time in 20 years the Prince of Wales show, benefitting the Cedar Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, was held in the Stephens College Equestrian Center. The center is over 50 years old and was in much need of repair. The grounds were incredibly muddy from the relentless rain that had fallen on Columbia for the last three days, but I came prepared with rain boots, learning from past event-preparedness-faux pas. For once, I did not have to tip-toe around the place in cute flats or walk awkwardly with my flip flops stuck in the mud. Success!
When I first entered the indoor arena, I sunk (not literally, it wasn’t that muddy) because I thought the lighting would be awful; early 19th century buildings don’t exactly provide the best cosmetic window light. However, as I entered the barn doors, I realized the large door opening was letting in beautiful overcast light. Double success!
The rest of the shoot went well with the fashion and lighting gods on my side. Because I was shooting for fun and not for the paper, I didn’t bother to get everyone’s names (I know, a photo sin) and just had fun shooting from different angles and capturing different moments. Not only was I pleased with the shots I was making, but I also avoided getting trampled by a horse. It was a rare, yet wonderful event to shoot and I came home incredibly pleased my pictures.
I am excited to shoot more horse-related events over the summer. There is a rodeo in Booneville at the end of May I have marked on my calendar, and I am hoping I can get access to that. There is also a rodeo at the Jesse James Festival in Kearney, Mo. later in the summer that I would like to shoot for my internship at the Sun News. I have wanted to shoot a rodeo for a while, after seeing beautiful pictures from Joel Sartore and College Photographer of the Year, and am anxious for these events to get here!