Friday, April 29, 2011

A Day In The Life...

Thursday, April 28th 2011

5:30am - alarm goes off
5:45am - dressed and taking the dog for his walk
6:20am - car packed up with camera gear and computers.  Depart for my horses
6:35am - bring in my horses for the day and feed them
6:55am - leave the barn for Churchill Downs

8:10am - arrive at Churchill Downs and wait for the renovation break to end.
    Not certain what to think of the pink tractors...

8:30am - renovation break is over and for the next 15 minutes or so, the track is only open to those horses training for the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby along with their workmates.

Matt and I shoot some pretty pictures of pretty race horses...

Joyful Victory, Oaks contender exercises under Larry Jones.

Street Story, Oaks contender, does a timed work under jockey Robby Albarado.

Uncle Mo gallops the Churchill Downs track.

My current equine crush, Shackleford, gallops in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.

8:50 am go to Churchill Downs media center to download and send out our photos to media outlets.

10:00am get back in car and head back home to Lexington. 

11:45am eat lunch, let dog out and take him for a short walk again.

12:30pm back in car and head to the Kentucky Horse Park for the Rolex 3-day eventing.  Take more pretty pictures

Admire other people's dogs hanging out at Rolex

Daisy the Great Dane leaning on her mom
3:15pm leave Rolex and head over to Keeneland for the Bewitch Stakes Race.  A mile and one half race on the turf for Fillies and Mares 4 yrs and older.

4:52pm is the race

Keertana wins with ease

Edit and send out race photos to race media.

6:00pm pack up and head over to barn to put my horses back out to their pasture

6:30pm get home, feed and let dog out.

6:45pm head over to Joseph-Beth Booksellers to see houseguest and friend Alex Brown speak about his book.  Alex is an excellent speaker!

7:45pm have dinner

9:00pm get back home

10:00pm bed.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rolex, Derby, Book Signings, Babies - OH MY!

Things are going at a crazy rate these days.  The Derby is right around the corner and it's hard to tell who will actually make it into the field!  There have been so many changes and horses dropping out.  CRAZY!  Matt is keeping tabs on it all with his blog Turf and Dirt.

We have several house guests coming in the next couple of days.  Alex Brown will be here to do book signings at Joseph-Beths Bookstore in Lexington on Thursday, The Kentucky Derby Museum on Friday followed by Old Friends on Saturday.  Then our other friend Alex Evers will be here to shoot Rolex, The Derby and to be one of our instructors for our Equestrian Workshop.

Right now, Matt and I are juggling the weather with our photography demands.  We need sun to get our foal pictures for our clients and recently we have been inundated with rain.  So we're trying to fit in the foals and yearlings in between rain drops and sunshine.  Add to that, my own horses have to be off the high octane grass pasture during the daytime hours because it's making them F-A-T!  It's a bit of a pain to go out twice a day but it puts a smile on my face to see them doing so well in their Kentucky home.

This Thursday - Sunday is Rolex!  I love going to Rolex as well as many of my blogging friends...  I had a great time shooting last year (my first time there) and now that I've been there I have a little bit better idea of what I want to shoot.  Here are my shots from last year's Rolex.   One of my favorite captures was this one of Gin And Juice with Hawley Bennett-Awad aboard:


If you check out the photos, make sure you look at the facial expressions of the riders.

This morning Matt and I went to Churchill Downs to catch some of the Derby horses working. This guy here, Shackleford, looked mighty fine in person. My photo doesn't do him justice:


And Archarcharch (or Arch3 for short) is awfully good looking too. I'm a sucker for black horses


We shall see who actually makes the 20 horse field come the first Saturday in May.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about last weekend at Keeneland and the weather.   It poured rain on Saturday during the post parade for the feature race - The Lexington Stakes.   The lightning was all around and I admit it scared the heck out of me and I took cover but I also snapped a couple pics during the downpour of John, the lead outrider having a good laugh in the rain:


Derby Kitten (by Kitten's Joy) was the winner with Julian Leparoux aboard. I happened to catch them at the start as well as the finish.  The starting gate was so close for my big 500mm lens that I could only get one horse in the gate.  I was lucky I got the eventual winner!


And then coming across the wire..


And a little celebratory "give me five" with the owner, Kenneth Ramsey:


I'm not sure if they are going to the Derby...  The whole Derby picture is just too confusing for my pea brain that I can't keep up but it sure does keep things interesting. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bluegrass Stakes Weekend

So much going on and so little time...

Toby and Ollie are doing GREAT!  The pasture grass has done them both a world of good.  For the very first time I cannot see Ollie's ribs.  He's at a perfect weight and he's super sassy.  I've never been around a horse with so much energy!  That sugary grass is to Ollie like a Hershey's Candy bar is to an 8 yr old boy...

I read an article in Dressage Today (one of my fav magazines) about Aragon and Guenter Seidel.  Aragon sounds a whole lot like Ollie in temperment.  But look at Aragon now!  It seems energy management is key.

I'm devouring anything I can read on working with high energy horses.  Feel free to pass along any suggested reading - hint hint.

Last weekend was the BIG weekend of racing at Keeneland.  It was Bluegrass Stakes Weekend.

I went out early on Saturday morning to catch "Breakfast With The Works" which also hosted a ceremony for the retirement of Ball Four to Old Friends.  Ball Four won the 2008 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland so he's a bit of a celebrity for winning a big stakes race for Keeneland.   It was a rainy and cold morning but many people were out and about on the grounds.  These twins were precious watching the race horses paddock schooling in the morning:


These were some of the runners from the Hall of Fame trainer, Jonathon Sheppard stables.  Barry Wiseman, leading the horse, is one of the nicest people anyone could meet.


And here is Ball Four...


He already knows which pocket holds the carrots in Michael Blowen's jacket:


The weather became progressively worse as the day wore on.  The winds were gusting up to 35mph and the rain was awful.  But I still managed to get a fairly good shot in the cold, windy and dark conditions of the winner:


Overall we had a great weekend even if the weather didn't cooperate.

And onto my big news...

I've got my pet photography website up:  I'm continuing to work on my portfolio but so far I'm liking it.  Just need to get the phone to ring  :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Trotting, Racing and Cool Books

Spring grass is giving my horses the "trotsky's."  Poor guys both have loose poops from the very rich spring time grass on their 55 acre heavenly pasture.  I've never had to deal with this kind of problem before.  Thanks to the internet I read up on ways to handle the spring grass season, so now I'm bringing them in during the prime grass growing hours (late morning until sunset) and turning them out at night.  Fortunately, it's also been very warm so both guys seem to be relieved to get out of the sunshine for a while.  Unfortunately for Ollie, he's developed some diaper rash.  His poops are so loose that I have to wash his hind end (legs and all) when I see him twice a day.  Tonight I'm going to give him some pepto bismol to help him out.  His poops were so good not that long ago!  It's tough when you have a sensitive tummy...  Getting him off this rich grass will be good for his tummy but he doesn't agree.  He thinks it's super yummy!

Now that I'm on a different work schedule, I've been able to work with my guys more often.  Unfortunately, Ollie and I have been having riding issues lately.  He's the epitome of the "crazy thoroughbred" and lately I come home from seeing him and ask myself "why do I have this horse?!"  He's not easy.  I'm hoping I get an instructor out to help me soon.  Now I have the time to work with him closely.   I just need a coach!  I have done well with small things, such as standing at the mounting block.  He's like a rock lately which gives me confidence that I CAN teach him.  But then when we start marching around the arena all he wants to do is "GO!"  He brakes into a trot then goes sideways and then he starts to lose his brain cells.  Yesterday we nearly took out all the jumps that are in the middle of our very large arena.  He just lost it!  He bunny hopped all over the place - baby rears, baby bucks.  I hung on and I spun him around in a circle while giving him leg to go forward.  He stopped with the bunny hops.  It was a total tantrum.  I'm thinking he's not happy about doing serious work and it irritates me to no end that he doesn't respect me when I'm in the saddle.   I don't want to lose my patience with him and I want to be sure to have a sure and steady hand with him.  Again, I think a coach will help me out alot.  I also believe that he'll be worth the effort.  When he goes, he goes beautifully! 

Enough of my ranting - I just needed to get my frustrations out to you guys - my friends.  Working with a hot horse is no easy task but I feel strongly that the rewards will be great.

This past weekend was opening weekend at Keeneland.  Matt and I have been over in the mornings to catch some nice shots of key horses in upcoming races.  This is Kathmanblu who ran in the Ashland yesterday and will most likely be running in the Kentucky Oaks:


Keeneland is so pretty in spring!

The horse that won the Ashland Stakes was Lilacs And Lace. Her sire is Flower Alley...


She was a big time longshot and a $2 win bet paid out $99!! Crazy! Matt and I had just met her the morning we shot Kathmanblu. We were messing around taking pictures of Lilac's And Lace's trainer's dog - a big yellow lab. We've gotten to know several trainers at the track and their dogs... I'm thinking I need to photograph the dogs of the race horse trainers. LOL!

One of our favorite trainers and crew is the Herringswell Stables bunch.  Everyone there is so friendly and nice!  One of the workers there is Marshall Blevins, she's a photography enthusiast and a first rate horseman.  She works for Herringswell in the mornings before she goes to her classes in equestrian studies at the University of Kentucky. 

Marshall Blevins hot walking Let's Do It at Keeneland for Herringswell Stables

Here she is hotwalking a horse called Let's Do It who is owned by former Kentucky governor, Brereton C. Jones. He ended up winning his allowance race on Saturday!


and he seemed pretty proud of his win as he walked back to his barn after the race


Saturday was crazy busy for me. It started out by taking my good friend, Alex Brown over to Keeneland and help him set up for his book signing during "Breakfast with the Works." From 7am - 8:30am, Keeneland offers a very nice buffet breakfast where you can watch the horses during their morning workouts. They have an announcer to help you identify the horses and the saddle clothes of the different barns. It's great fun and huge crowds attend the festivities!

Here is a photo of Alex

Alex Brown at his book signing during Keeneland's "Breakfast With the Works"
 You never know who you'll run into at Keeneland.  Alex and I ran into Alexa King, the sculptor for the Barbaro Statue at Churchill Downs.  Not only is Alexa a super talented sculptor, but she's a fun person too.  I'm hoping to get the chance to photograph her super cute and big Burmese Mountain Dog puppy.

Alexa King checking out Alex Brown's book on Barbaro.
Matt has a wonderful photo of the Barbaro Statue on the back of Alex's book...  Not only do Matt and I have a ton of photos in Alex's book, but the book itself is wonderful.  Alex's book - Greatness and Goodness:  Barbaro and His Legacy gives an amazing insight into the people in Barbaro's life as well as the people who were affected by the events in Barbaro's life - both good and bad.  I realize that I'm a friend of the author so you may feel the need to discount my opinion but I must say that it's a fantastic and insightful read into the events surrounding Barbaro's short and tragic life.  You can check out more info on the book at

Tomorrow Matt and I will be heading over to Keeneland for the 2 yr olds in training sale.  Busy time of year for us!

More later! 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Keeneland Spring and My Copilot Dog

I've been on the road for work, have come home and am jumping straight into the Keeneland Spring meet.  My job with the USGA has ended after 20 yrs and I'm doing a perfect swan dive into the photography world.

Matt and I headed out for a pretty morning at Keeneland.  It was gorgeous!


And we hunted around for some horses that will be racing in the big upcoming races for opening weekend.  Here is one of the top canadian fillies, Delightful Mary, working in preparation for the Ashland Stakes.


and this is Sour...


I love his name -He's by Lemon Drop Kid - very clever!  Sour is prepping for the Illinois Derby.  He's a very good horse but his connections don't care to race him in the typical Derby trail races including the Kentucky Derby because he's a gelding.  So keep your eye on him this summer.  He's a good one even though he's not running in those triple crown races!!

It's great fun to be back at Keeneland shooting.  I've started a gallery of photos for the 2011 Spring at Keeneland.  Keep checking it out since I'll be continuously adding photos to it throughout the month of April.

And now that I can focus on my photography (pun intended) I'm thinking of branching into pet photography.  Amos is my test subject for many of my creative ideas.


Amos, is extremely difficult to photograph because he's absolutely black.  The camera has a tough time focusing on him.  By working on him, I should become very good!


And my other problem with him is that he's extremely F-A-S-T and obsessive about fetching...




He's loving that I take him to the dog park all the time although he wishes I wouldn't take pictures of the other pups playing...

Dog Park Friends-6406.jpg

and he never wants to go back home...