My Favorite Photos of the Year

I had a pretty crazy year of travel for The Chronicle and I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos I’ve taken.

I mostly covered eventing, including Red Hills, Bromont, the Carolina International, Great Meadow, Jersey Fresh, Plantation Field, The Fork, Fair Hill and the AECs, as well as CDI***** dressage in Florida, the USEA Convention, two Jimmy Wofford clinics and the Pan Am Games.

I wrote about my favorite memory for COTH as well.

“This year I headed to my first ever championship as a member of the media when I covered the Pan American Games in Toronto with my co-worker Lisa Slade.

I was a little nervous, having heard tales of chaos and stress at multi-discipline championships from other more seasoned staffers. But I’d also heard them rave about how amazing it was to see Valegro dance to music or feel the tension so thick in the air you could cut it with a knife as the final horse cleared the final show jump in eventing.

In the end, the experience was much more the latter. Sure, Lisa and I had to sneak in PB&Js every day for lunch because the few food vendors were overwhelmed and yes, there were some stressful days worrying about getting our coverage up even though we were wet/hot/cold/hungry/tired, but to me it was worth it to experience the U.S. team on the podium multiple times, and to be able to witness equestrian sport on a global scale.

I wish I’d had time to talk to every rider from another country and learn their story, but reporting on the medal contenders was first priority, leaving little time for much else. I did get to talk to a few South American riders across all three disciplines over those two weeks though, and learning the stories of what they go through to be able to compete at the Pan Ams, which for many is the pinnacle of their career, and how excited they were to bring attention to equestrian sport in their countries was really amazing. They took their jobs as ambassadors of the sport very seriously and with a great amount of pride.

There really were so many memorable moments, it’s hard to choose! McLain Ward riding the spicy Rothchild to his first individual championship medal, Brazil’s Ruy Fonseca so close to an individual gold before dropping the final rail in the eventing to give Marilyn Little the gold, the impressive Brazilians across all disciplines, Steffen Peters’ elation aboard Legolas in the dressage…Some say the Pan Ams aren’t as prestigious as other championships, but to me and the many riders who were privileged to be there, those medals and experiences mean so much.”

Without further ado, here are my favorite photos in no particular order.1DSC_0038

Brazilian dressage rider Leandro Aparecido Da Silva’s daugther gave Di Caprio a pat after his test at the Pan Ams. I’m not the strongest candid photographer (I’m working on it!), but this one was pretty sweet.

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Buck Davidson and Ballynoe Castle RM at Jersey Fresh. “Reggie” and Buck’s partnerships is one of my favorites. I just love how Reggie is jumping picture perfect over this massive table and how Buck is in the perfect balance. This is something to emulate!

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Kim Herslow and Rosmarin at the Pan Ams. Dressage riders are the most emotional riders as I came to find out at the Pan Ams. Kim took a moment after her test to give Rosmarin a hug, even among the loud cheering in the stadium.

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I turned around quickly and captured this shot of a rider during dressage day at Fair Hill. It’s my favorite event to go to, especially when the weather and fall foliage cooperates like it did this year!

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A lot has been said about Marilyn Little this year, but this photo captures the side of her I see when I interview her at competitions. RF Demeter is a special partner for her, and it showed after they won the Bromont CCI***.

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Kim Severson and Cooley Cross Border standing off at Fair Hill. I love a photo of a good jumping horse, and “Crossy” sure looks scopey here! Kim is soft-spoken, but I love interviewing her because she’s so real. She’ll humbly admit how difficult it was to learn to ride this horse and it’s wonderful that they’re now on the same page (and getting results!).

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McLain Ward and Rothchild at the Pan Ams. This photo (in its’ original form here) was a little back lit, but our design team worked their magic, and it became my second ever cover shot! It’s also one of the rare shots of “Bongo” with her ears forward. McLain’s partnership with this fiery little horse is one of my favorites in show jumping.

 

A week of sunshine and good news!

Goodbye Miami!
Goodbye Miami!

I’m getting back into the groove at home after spending 8 days in Welington, Fla. covering the Global Dressage Forum North America and the Wellington Nations Cup CDIO***.

We had a mini-Snowmageddon the day before I left and for a minute I thought my flight on Valentine’s day might be delayed, but Dulles miraculously cleared a foot of snow from the runway and my plane was perfectly on time!

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Lucky wanted to come to Florida with me!

I flew into Miami, which I’ve never done and will never do again. The traffic on I-95 was horrendous and the airport is gigantic. The line for security when I flew home was over an hour wait, hot and sweaty and my gate was a mile walk.

GDFNA
GDFNA

But, other than travel woes, I really enjoyed my second trip to Florida this year. The first weekend was devoted to the GDFNA, a two-day forum featuring a ton of top riders, trainers and “masters” of dressage at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. The amount of people was unfortunately a lot less than last year, and I feel like if the lowered the cost of the ticket prices (about $300), they might get more people to come. Either way, it was a lot of fun to see how different teachers ended up focusing on the basics, whether they were working with young horses or Grand Prix horses. I was really impressed with Canadian Olympian Christilot Boylen’s demonstration, as well as Conrad Schumacher’s clarity when laying out exercises and Sweden’s Tinne Vilhelmson-Silfven’s riding. You can check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my online coverage which includes photos.

Palm Beach
Palm Beach

I had two days before the Nations Cup started on Wednesday, so I worked on my story at a kind of sketchy La Quinta Inn in West Palm Beach and took a few drives around the city and crossed the bridge over to Palm Beach to see how the rich and famous live.

Did you know that the average yacht in Palm Beach costs $35 million and that most of the United States’ billionaires live there during this time of year?

I did a quick drive by the Flagler Museum, the beach and Worth Ave and only wished I could have spent some time on the beach!

City Place shopping area in West Palm Beach
City Place shopping area in West Palm Beach

The Nations Cup went from Wednesday through Friday and it was quite hot, at 85 and humid. The press were treated really well with great seats at the end of the VIP tent, free food and drinks and rides on a golf cart to our cars!

I haven’t seen upper level dressage in person for quite a while and have only covered it once in person for COTH, so I enjoyed taking photos and watching the freestyles on Friday night under the nights. I also loved checking out the European-inspired fashion, especially the blingy brow bands, custom saddles and boots and crazy shadbellies. I even saw a woman wearing pink breeches with glittery grey full seats! That may have been a bit too far…

You can check out all of my stories and photos here.

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I was really inspired (and a little envious) to get back to work with my horses, which brings me to the good news.

On the Wednesday before I left, my vet came out to check Oh So. We jogged him in a straight line and on a circle in hand and then ultra sounded him. She said his leg looked very good and that there was only a small spot of irregularity towards the outside of the accessory ligament, so we got permission to start trotting.

Unfortunately, it’s only in 30 second increments, which Oh So thinks is unacceptable. His first few trots have felt pretty awful and he’s quite off from behind, but Nicky rode him while I was gone and both she and the vet agree that he’ll get better as he starts using his hind end again. He hasn’t really trotted since August!

He felt better last night, which was his fifth time trotting since the vet came, but he’s so excitable and tense that he’s not helping the situation by trying to run off. Ah well, it will hopefully get better in the next couple of weeks as we add more trotting.

Bear had his fourth birthday yesterday. Nicky rode him a couple of times when I was gone and said he was very good. She worked a bit on bending and walk-trot transitions. We had a good lesson on Monday night and started to work a little more on his canter and the transitions into and out of it. He has more trouble bending left and I tend to try to “hold” him to the outside of the circle with my outside rein, so we worked on just softly flexing my inside hand inwards and using my inside leg to push him out, which worked well. I had a couple of really nice circles in my ride tonight.

Hopefully this weekend we can get out to a jump lesson!