Almost every year Patty and I make a trek down the the Kentucky Horse Park to watch the cross country jumping part of the Rolex. The weather forcasts for the day (Saturday 4/24/2010) were not good. However, we decided to go anyway and hope for the best. As it turned out, we drove through rain, but by the time we got there the pavement was dry and it was already starting to warm up.

I use the event to hone my skills and become a better photographer. We typically watch each jump for one or two riders then move on to the next jump taking in almost the entire course.

Another fun thing is touching base with photographer friends that I see there. I ran into Jennay, Kelly, and Danita this year. There are hundreds of photographers honing their skills all over the grounds and another thing that I do is introduce myself here and there and mention the Equine Photographer’s Network. “Have you heard of the Equine Photographer’s Network?” I say. Then I say something about what it is if they have not heard of it. Usually the response is, “That sounds great.” I give them my card and ask them to send me an email so I can send them a link the EPnet so that they can check it out for themselves.

We saw one refusal, but we didn’t see any wrecks this year. However there were a couple of wrecks. One both horse and rider were walking. The other happened just before the end of the event and the rider was careflighted to the hospital by helicopter. I did not hear how it happened or about the horse.

This year, many of the jumps were modified and there were several that had “sythetic break-a-way logs” made of styrophome. In prior years there had been some jumps that presented serious problems for horses and riders involving solid heavy logs spread out  several feet. A minor miscalculation by the horse or rider could have serious consequences whenever horses are jumping, but these past jumps proved particularly difficult and dangerous in the past. I was pleased to see less complexity in this respect. At the same time, the biggest wreck last year was on a simple jump at the beginning or the course. However, this is an intense sport anyway as are all horse sports, even recreational riding, so injuries do occur no matter how well planned the jumps can be. Just last weekend, my daughter Sarah was dismounting at an endurance ride and her horse started bucking and reacting to something. She fell and was kicked in the head cracking her helmet. No long lasting injuries because of wearing correct protective gear (head ache and stiff neck for a day). And yet there are still those who insist on riding horses without head protection (of course everyone at the Rolex is required to wear protective gear).

Here are some of the images from the day. This first photograph is where the one major accident happened on Saturday.

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