It's amazing what stories you can find at a horse show if you turn your lens away from the action. As journalists and photographers, we spend so much time trying to get that perfect picture of the gold medalist pumping the air, the candid congratulatory high five, the exuberant rider patting their horse at the end of a round.
There are so many more adorable, inspiring and fascinating moments at the 2014 Adequan/FEI North American Junior And Young Rider Championships (Ky.), but you won't find them looking through a camera at the ring—you have to turn around.
We ran across 5-year-old Abraham Larson watching the NAJYRC eventers ride cross-country with his mom Michelle Larson, the joint district commissioner for St. James Pony Club (Ill.). The whole club was on hand, and Abraham was quite the little spitfire.
"Are you in Pony Club?"
"Why are you here?"
“Cause I like to be here.”
"Do you have a pony?"
"Poppy. I don’t really train him because he’s really old, and Poppy eats senior food and then he has water with it because he can’t really eat hay because he doesn’t have many teeth."
"You’ve got quite a few girls to hang out with here—are you a little ladies man?"
“He is!” “Yeah he is, he so is.” “For sure.”
(Leans in and whispers) “Yes.”
Jan Bush works at the concession stand in Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park. She was kind enough to lend us a trash bag to cover the camera equipment when we walked through the rain, and we stopped back to thank her and got to talking.
"What did you do before you worked here?"
“I was a stone mason.”
"You’re pretty petite—did you have someone lift the stones for you?"
“Oh no, I can lift them. I was bound and determined to lift them, because when I started taking the classes to become a stone mason Richard Tufnell had come over from Scotland to teach people how to do it again, and I took a class and basically he said ‘Well you could do this for flower beds, but girls don’t have the aptitude to do stone work.' And I was like, 'Yeah right; that’s a challenge.'
"So not only did I become a mason, but him and I taught classes together, so he had to eat his words. That was good."
"What did you like most about being a stone mason?"
"Just the challenge of it. Nobody thought a girl could do it and yeah, a girl can do it. We had to work twice as hard."
"Have you always been proving people wrong?"
(Smiles) "I’m afraid so."
We noticed RNS Videomedia videographer Mike Shiff sitting by a tree at the top of the bank in the Walnut Ring at the Kentucky Horse Park, and after getting busted trying to take a candid shot of him, we wandered over to explain our project and ask him a few questions.
"How long have you been a videographer?"
"A few years. It’s just a job. I know these guys personally. I went to college for music and then played in a band in Chicago and they were doing all of our promo videos, so I knew them personally."
"What was the band’s name?"
"It was called Mathien, and I played bass. It was like a Dave Matthews type band, and so there was a really, really talented lead singer and he wrote like 90 percent of it. We had a serious contract and everything, I mean we had investment. We had an honest shot."
"Why did it end?"
"Because it’s hard. It’s hard, its complicated it’s political and in the music business, you need money. You need lots and lots and lots of money."
To read more about NAJYRC, check out the August 4th issue of The Chronicle of the Horse print magazine.