I apologize, because this post is months overdue, oops!
In October of last year (2013) I had the opportunity to travel to Lexington, Kentucky. More specifically, to attend the races at Keenland race track. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Keenland is a Thoroughbred Horse racing track, and one of the most beautiful in the world. The track is located due East of Lexington proper, and the ground include much more than just the grand stands and a racing track. Unfortunately I ran out of time before I could do a lot of exploring, maybe next time.
Although I spent all my time on the main circuit, I got to spent time with the one thing I wanted to, the horses. If you don’t me, there is one thing you should know, and that is that I keep a lot to myself. And something that I have kept a lid on almost all my life, is my love for horses. I don’t know were it comes from, but there is something about this creature that has captured my soul.
I could talk about the power, strength or majesty of them, and I these are all things I love about hem. However, for me there is something else that I see in them, I see an honesty or sincerity in them. They say the the eyes are the gateway to the soul, and in the spirit of honesty, I have only connected to this philosophy with two or three people in my lifetime (I suspect this is because humans have been conditioned to bury their souls from others, but this is a topic for another day). Every time I establish a connection through the eyes of horses, it truly affects me. I feel a peace and calm within me. We spend an enormous amount of time talking about judging (or not judging) people, and about a universal acceptance of ourselves and others. I think the calm I feel is the realization of this very concept. There are no preconceived ideas about our identity twords one another, I am me, and the horse is who he/she is, there is no need for lying about our accomplishments or failures in life, and certainly politics and religion are not even known to them. I am happy around them, and if nothing else, that makes spending time with them very special, and something to be grateful for. This is where I stop before I end up writing book no one wants to read, so on to the photographs.
I only had two days to spend at the track, so the issue of how to capture these athletes dominated my mind for weeks before I made the trip out. Like I do a lot, I decided to wait until I arrived and then come up with something. I arrived very early in the morning on the fist day at the track (like 7:00am) and joy of joy, the horses were out on the track doing their morning warm ups. After talking to some one at the track, and finding out that the track is open to the public for the morning exercises, it became obvious to me that this was the direction I wanted to take. I could spent time trying to photo the actually races (insanely difficult without a press pass, that just happens to be very difficult to obtain), or hang out in the parade area, where all the horses are before and after the races (this became an issue for me as well, as I’m not great in crowds).
The morning warmups offered the advantages of virtually no people (it was quite cold that early in the morning), and the opportunity for a bit more intimacy with the animals. And this is exactly what I got, I even got the riders coming up to me asking if I was getting the shots I was looking for, it was one of the better photographing moments of my life. My goal with these images was to try and capture some of what I see in these creatures, some of their soul. And ultimately, I think by being there in the morning, the people and the horses were far more relaxed and I was able to capture an authenticity and find a truth in the nature of racing that I would have been unable to capture in any other setting. These horses were breed to run, and watching them run not during a race, I noticed that they love to do just that, run. Running is apart of them, a part of their souls, and I saw that in their eyes.
Below are a few more of the images I captured from the weekend, enjoy.