When most people think about a sporting event, the sport of Eventing is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. In fact a good number of people may have never even heard of it. Eventing is a grueling test designed to assess the training, ability and strength of a horse, together with the bond and trust shared between horse and rider. The roots of Eventing began as a means of testing military horses that had to possess highly disciplined traits. The events are divided into three categories. The first, Dressage, is an equestrian art form likened to ballet. Dressage requires great physical control and grace as horse and rider move,as one through a series of fluid moves in a ring. Next is Cross-Country, a course run over several miles in length and a demanding test of endurance, bravery and reliance between horse and rider—all meant to simulate battlefield conditions that might be encountered by a cavalry horse. The last of the trials is Show Jumping, vaulting over a series of hurdles of varying heights and breadths within a confined arena. The Event at Rebecca Farms has been held annually in July just outside of Kalispell, Montana, since its inaugural year in 2002. It is one of the world’s premier eventing competitions.
My goal at The Event is to capture the spirit of comp- etition—to record not just the action but the charm, charisma, beauty and emotional aspects. I look for scenes and subjects such as the surprise on a competitor’s face at the apex of a jump, a smile of admiration, a far-off nostalgic look, an expression of joy for an accomplishment, empathy from disappointment, or simply the beauty of what I observe.
For me, the most exhilarating aspect of Eventing is the Cross-Country segment. With a course that’s almost three miles long there are unlimited opportunities to make a great variety of exciting images. Unlike other sporting events, in Cross-Country there are few limits to where spectators can wander—the main rule is to stay out of the way and not get run over by a horse.