The current exhibit showcases the art of hunter/jumper photographers, through their eyes. On display are memorable images selected by legendary photographers accompanied by their stories behind the images: the significance of the captured moment and the technique of framing the shot. While practicing their art, horse show photographers serve as the visual historians of the hunter/jumper sport.
On film and with digital cameras, hunter/jumper photographers have captured the elegance of hunters and the power of jumpers as well as the bonds between horses and their people. The stories of these photographers’ efforts to freeze-frame great images also provide insight to the changes in the technology of sports photography.
The contributing photographers selected photos that feature iconic horses, riders, and events; images captured through strategic planning or luck of location or lighting; and candid shots filled with emotion. Many images carry personal significance for the photographers. Together, the photos on display provide a unique view of 60 years of hunter/jumper horse shows.
The exhibit also includes items from the permanent collection of the Show Jumping Hall of Fame related to the horses and riders featured in the photographs on display and a special section dedicated to film excerpts from Harry & Snowman and personal mementos loaned by Harry de Leyer.
Greg Best and Gem Twist (1988), Team and Individual Silver Medalists, Seoul Olympics, Korea (Film). “I realized that I was standing next to some excellent photographers and none of them were pointing their cameras at the shot I loved of the Kwachon Gate. Since it was before digital cameras, I couldn’t look at my shot to see if it was working well. I wondered if there was something wrong with this shot that I was missing. Was it really worth the run to get this shot? I decided to trust my instincts and my own eye. Glad I did . . .”
Gratitude (February 14, 2015), Winter Equestrian Festival, Wellington, FL (Digital). “This photo, of an amateur rider rewarding her horse for a job well done, is one of my favorites for its simplicity and the shadow depicting just the two of them as one, even in this expansive space.”
Dianne Grod and Bomalla Bobby (1972), Santa Barbara National Horse and Flower Show, Santa Barbara, CA (Film). “I was experimenting with slow shutter and utilizing the light on that particular jump. I had only seen the streaking effect of slow-shutter shots of cars moving horizontally and was curious about the effect of a horse moving forward and up over a jump. I was quite pleased with the outcome and proceeded to pursue the slow-shutter concept.”
Triple Crown (2015), USJHA International Hunter Derby Championship, Kentucky Horse Park (Digital). “This shot taken over the last fence of the handy round showed Liza Towell Boyd’s and Brunello’s form that sealed their place as the third-time (triple crown) winners of the Derby Finals.”
Victory Gallop (2017), Pennsylvania National Horse Show, Harrisburg, PA (Digital). “This shot captures the beauty of the horse along with the joy of the blue ribbon winner.”
Joe Fargis and Cor d’Alme Z (1993), Hampton Classic, Bridgehampton, NY (Film). “I liked to shoot landing or ‘drop’ shots. As the horse unfolded from the peak of the arc, the rider’s face became more visible and was more relaxed. It had to be just at the right instant, though—too late, and it was often unflattering of the horse and rider as they hit the ground.”
Michael Matz and Jet Run (1983), American Gold Cup, Devon, PA (Film). “Phyllis pioneered ‘gallop’ shots of horses turning around the course and heading toward the camera in a time when most exhibitors were just looking for photos over jumps.”
Raymond Burr and Kimberling (c. 1957), Devon Horse Show, Devon, PA (Film). Budd photos preserve images of horse show settings long gone. Before the suburbs encroached on the Devon showgrounds, hunters navigated an outside course of jumps around the main ring. Spectators could gather for a close-up view.
Sophie Gochman Riding Dolphin (2009), Horse Shows by the Bay, Traverse City, MI (Digital). “This was a Walk/Trot/Canter class and Dolphin coughed as he went by. I was amazingly right there with my 300mm 2.8 lens to capture this amusing candid photo. Dolphin was one of the great ponies who taught countless children to ride.”
Nick Skelton and Big Star (2016), Rio Olympics Show Jumping Individual, Brazil (Digital). “I photographed every competition day of all three disciplines. The last class on the last day was the show jumping individual final, and while Nick Skelton had been looking strong, there was no guarantee he was going to win Olympic Gold. But then he did, and the place went crazy. I was standing between the arena and the warmup area, where Nick and his team were standing with Big Star. I defied the security rules and ran straight into the crowd of people that were rushing to Nick and his team, all in tears. It was electric, and the series of photos I got as I stood inside that circle were my favorite of the entire Games.”
Lauren Hough and Belle (2016), Ridge Turf Tour Grand Prix, Wellington, FL (Digital). “The course designed by Leopoldo Palacios at Tonkowa Farm set among palm trees made for some incredible shots. I had tried a bunch of different angles to get the trees just right, and finally got it with Lauren Hough and Belle. I zoomed in a bit so that you couldn't see the fence, and it really gave it a different feel from a standard horse show shot.”
KC Van Aarem and Las Vegas (2019), Winter Equestrian Festival, Wellington, FL (Digital). “This photo of a good friend who also works at our barn captures why I do what I do, and I couldn't think of a better photo to show the emotion I strive to capture. I was helping KC that day by bringing Las Vegas to the ring and brought my camera as well. It was an Under 25 Grand Prix and I happened to turn around and see this moment after KC had gotten off after going clear in the first round. It still brings tears to my eyes; you can tell how grateful she is not only for her horse, but for what she accomplishes.”
McLain Ward and Rothchild (2017), Sapphire Grand Prix, Devon Horse Show, Devon, PA (Digital). “I took this picture in 2017 on my first major assignment for US Equestrian and my first time at Devon. I had heard how incredible the atmosphere was for the grand prix but truly didn’t wrap my head around it until I was there fighting for a spot at the ring surrounded by local fans who had staked out their spot many hours before. McLain and Rothchild were the last to go in a five-horse jump-off. McLain has won this class now more than ten times and everyone was rooting for them to win. This photo is one of my favorites: McLain and Rothchild were both fierce competitors, and here McLain has all of his focus on the clock and Rothchild, very characteristically, with his ears pinned back.”