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Red & Blue



In previous blogs I’ve talked about how horse and pony pulls tap into some of my favorite childhood memories. That was one of the reasons why I made a point of getting out last summer to photograph some pulling events. But horse and pony pulls also let me practice shooting an activity I know and enjoy, and as a novice, I think it’s easier to shoot an event when you know what to expect. Sometimes the frustration comes from not knowing where the best vantage point might be or how best to capture the shot you’re hoping to get. Other times you arrive at a venue only to discover the only view you’ll have has been obstructed. Such was the case with the photo above.


In years past, this event was held in a small corner of a large country fairground. There were wooden bleachers for the audience and little else between the viewers and the action. Typically, the pulls were always on Friday and started with ponies in late afternoon and were followed by the horses, which often ran late into the night. In fact, the horse classes usually ran long after the main part of the fair had closed for the night, leaving just a handful of diehards who always stayed until the battle finally ended. I remember going to work Saturday morning with little more than a scant few hours of sleep under my belt. Good times!


Back then there wasn’t a chain link fence around the pulling pit. I guess this was before everyone became ridiculously lawsuit happy and therefore, we got to enjoy this high octane event without having to peer through the metal diamond of a fence. I’m not saying this sport doesn’t run the risk of being dangerous …. heck, just waking around a fair can be dangerous! In fact, I was at a fair once when a team of horses snapped the hitch just as they lunged into their first pull. They broke away from the driver, ran around the pit, then right out the entrance and directly back to their trailer where they stood waiting for help. Hugely scary and dangerous? Yes! But all they really needed to do to prevent this sort of thing was put a functioning gate at the entry of the arena. Duh! Sort of a no-brainer for anyone who owns a horse!


I was sorely disappointed when after a long absence, I arrived at this fairground only to discover the entire pulling pit had been fenced off with ten foot (high) chain link fencing. Huh? So much for taking pictures! Metal risers replaced the old worn wooden bleachers and I carefully scaled them hoping that the highest row might grant me a view over the top of the fence. I was able to get some pictures without the fence blocking my view, but my pictures clearly show the obstructed view on the opposite side. Some of the best photos I took were of the teams waiting at the rail, yet most of those were ruined by the encroaching fence.


Sadly, I probably won’t go back there this fall. I’ll keep searching for venues that in an effort to be safe, haven’t thrown the baby out with the bathwater.


Sept 11, 2010. 3:19 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 93mm, 1/1000 sec, f/2.8


Lens: Tamron 70-200mm

Lightroom3: Crop



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