A week away from home

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This past Sunday I returned home after spending a week on the road, heading first down to Ocala, Florida for the USEA Young Horse Symposium before heading to Thomson, Georgia for the second time in February to photograph the event with Mark Lehner and the Hoofclix crew.

Although I did write several articles about the USEA Young Horse Symposium for EN, I was there out of personal interest too, as I’m now working part time at a barn working with young horses and learning about sport horse breeding. The barn owner wasn’t able to go, but she encouraged me to attend and report back. I’m really glad I did.

I learned a lot about evaluating a young horse under saddle and pedigree analysis. I also got to do a bit of networking and hang out with some pals from Virginia who were either in Ocala for the seminar or wintering in sunny Florida.

I was really blown away by Maren Engelhardt, an incredibly knowledgeable woman when it comes to pedigrees and breeding horses. I was glad to meet her and get some valuable feedback about Fey (she likes her!) and stallions I’ve considered for her.

My favorite session, however, was David O’Connor’s 40-minute discussion about bringing young horses along properly and strengthening the pipeline for producing young horses through the levels in the United States. We know David is a good coach, but it’s clear he cares a lot about the horses and their wellbeing. Robin Walker also made some fine points on this same topic, including riders needing to learn to be producers as well as competitors, and taking the time to care for a horse mentally during its development and the course of its career. That’s horsemanship, folks.

Secrets to Michael Pollard’s Dressage Skills

From Young Horse to Team Horse with David O’Connor

Roundtable Discussion: Developing the Young and Future Event Horse Programs

(Click here for more Young Horse Symposium articles)

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I’ve known Mark Lehner for several years, and he was always so nice to me when I was just coming into photographing at horse shows. He also has a great crew of photographers working with him that I now call friends. So I’m really grateful to get to work with him this year and learn and better myself as a photographer.

I pulled double-duty at the two Pine Top events in February shooting for Mark during the day and writing up score reports for EN in the evening. The big “drama” at the second event was the insane temperatures that we knew were coming well ahead of time. I packed well in preparation and have to say I wasn’t miserable. I had my snow boots, my long underwear, good coats, etc. I’d say the only thing I had to adjust to was wearing gloves with fingers, which I don’t normally do while shooting as it makes working the buttons a little clunky. But in 20 degrees, I’ll suck it up and wear the gloves.

I didn’t write this one, but from the photos you’ll see the kind of weather we were dealing with. (7 Photos of the Frozen Water Jump at Pine Top).

Thankfully it warmed up on Saturday, but Sunday it pretty much rained all day. Which is annoying only because trying to keep the camera dry is annoying. But again, I was so strangely slap happy to be at that show that I didn’t really mind the weather so much. I should start packing coolers of sandwich stuff though, instead of eating granola bars and bananas from the hotel for three days.

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About Leslie Threlkeld

Leslie Threlkeld is a writer and photographer specializing in equestrian topics. View all posts by Leslie Threlkeld

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