Saturday, July 18, 2009

I Just LOVE This Show!

The highlight of my summers has become visiting Horse Shows By The Bay near Traverse City, Michigan every July and August. This year the show has expanded to four weeks of hunters, jumpers, ponies, dressage and a polo match on the final weekend. Top riders from around the country now come here to compete including Peter Pletcher, Tammy Provost, Patricia Griffith and Scott Lenkart, along with junior riders Caitlin Ziegler and Victoria Birdsall. HSBB is now considered one of the best shows in the midwest under the exceptional management of Dean and Alexandra Rheinheimer.

Last weekend I spent the afternoon at the show and enjoyed every minute of it! Every year more improvements are made to the grounds, and this year was no exception. A new pathway for visitors from the parking lot all the way to the Grand Prix ring at the far end has shortened walks and given better access to all four of the rings for those of us who like to wander around and catch whatever action is going on in the various rings.

For a change, I was not disappointed in my photos. I don’t know if my expectations have been lowered or if I’m shooting better; whichever it is, I see many good paintings amongst them.

This year I remembered to put the long lens on the camera which greatly increased my chances of getting good jump shots. That was a good thing when I got to the Grand Prix ring which is the largest of all and has limited access for spectators.

Last year I posted the photos on my website, but I found that very few people bothered to follow the link to them, so this year I’m posting them right in the blog. Here are just a few of the photos for your enjoyment.

The first photo shows a lovely iron gray hunter horse in a warmup ring. I couldn’t resist him.

This photo shows a groom holding a pony and is very typical of this level of showing. Unlike most of us who do our own grooming, saddling, bathing, etc., the show barns have grooms to do this work. When the horse is ready, the rider hops on and is off to the rings. When the class is done, the rider hops off and hands the reins to the groom. I even saw one groom picking out the feet of a hunter while the mounted rider was waiting for her class! These unsung heroes of the horse show circuit make it possible for riders to compete in several classes in a day without wearing themselves out caring for their horses. Some riders ride more than one horse which makes the grooms doubly indispensible.

I took this shot while the show photographer was shooting this winner and his rider. The proud mom and groom are standing by, but no amount of coaxing could get this pony to look at the camera and perk his ears. He was totally bored by the whole thing.

This next shot I caught in a warmup ring. The two older riders seemed to be mentoring this little girl on her cute white pony, and giving her encouragement. It’s a great idea for a painting and just goes to show that the best action is not always in the rings during a class. You can catch many good candid photos in the warmup rings if you’re alert for them.

Since not much was going on in the pony ring, I wandered off from there to the Grand Prix ring. More in the next post.

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