Working Nomad

It seems that every time I update this dusty blog it’s only about two things…horses or photography.

So what’s this all about? Guess!

The good news is that my month away from distracting luxuries like the internet, air conditioning, and dreaming about adventure has been spent wisely earning fundage that may come in useful one day.

I took a one-month assignment during a horse show here to work as a photographer at the Kentucky Horse Park…a sprawling green space filled with horses, competition areas, and rich people.

I am basically a “ring photographer” and stand 10+ hours a day wobbling in the August sun to capture pictures of horses going over the jumps.

I have to be at the park around 07:30, which means I leave the house at 06:40 every morning…not an easy thing for a certified vampire like myself. The work is hot , monotonous, and very busy….I rarely get a break longer than five or 10 minutes as they change the jumps around. Forget about lunch (and whatever labor laws might apply to a 10-hour day). Forget about shade and even sitting in most instances. On any given day, I capture 300 split-second shots of horses flying through the air with some poor bastard on top clinging to the reins for dear life.

Still, all griping aside, it is an income and as any freelancer, starving artist, or vagabum will tell you that is always a good thing.

As I grind through these days I still grin about how much life has changed. Three years ago a bad day for me was conference calls, corporate mandates, and system crashes. Now a bad day at work consists of fighting dehydration and getting bitten by a nasty fire ant (I would bite something that was standing on my house, too).

There is no question about it, despite the huge difference in pay, I would choose nasty fire ants over nasty managers.

My time in the Army is proving quite useful on this job and there are actually some similarities. All of us photographers meet at a trailer in the morning, are given our orders for the day, then we disperse to fulfill whatever mission. For the entire 10-hour day it is just me, my rucksack with water and food, and my camera. To be honest, I love the independence.

I have even managed to learn a little about horse eventing on this gig. I now know the difference between an Oxer, a birch, and a natural. I know the difference between large green ponies and junior hunters.

I have also observed the mostly wealthy families that travel all over the country from show to show, driving RVs and pulling giant horse trailers (or in some instances FLYING their horses) to the next state. You can’t exactly FedEx these things.

Their 10-year-old children (mostly girls) dress in traditional hunter coats with tails and throw fits when the horse (or parents) don’t do as directed. Many times these athletic, graceful, glorious animals audibly pass gas as they propel themselves over a jump. The sound would put any whoopie cushion to shame and would send most American children into a fit of giggles, but it barely produces a response on these young riders’ faces. They simply stare steely eyed ahead at the next jump as if they didn’t hear…and wonder why the weird photographer is either grimacing or laughing (depending on wind direction).

Despite their investment portfolios being larger than mine already, I do respect these kids and adult riders though. I have seen over and over people get hurt during eventing and even in one case last week, a 16-year-old girl carried off on a stretcher because the wooden jump broke her fall on the way to the ground.

I will leave you with a fun shot of one guy that was lucky enough to be thrown into water after his horse decided it had had enough!

[Photo Removed]

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One Response to “Working Nomad”



  1. Sorry.. if I was standing there and the horse decided to dump the guy in the water I think I would have lost it. Would have been the end of my photographing day as I would have had a sore gut and been filthy from rolling around on the ground cracking up so hard.
    the limits these guys expect their mounts to preform to for hours a day.. They deserve to get dumped from time to time.
    The young girl hitting the pole though… OUCH! Hope she came out okay.

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