As a boy growing up in Kentucky, horses were a common sight. In my youth, we lived near Nicholasville, Kentucky where we had a mule, a pony and beautiful white horse, all running half wild across the 52 acre tobacco farm. I never owned a saddle, we were too poor for such luxuries. I did have an old weathered bridle which I would carry around when I tried to round up the half-wild pony. I chased those animals from one end of the farm to the other.
The horse, I never caught. The mule was too large and dangerous for me to mess with. The pony; Sandy, was manageable for a skinny 12 year old kid. I rode her bare-back, up and down the country roads, visiting my friends and pretending I was living in the age of horses being the primary means of transportation.
The area I grew up in was full of Thoroughbred horse farms, some of which were hosts to Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown winners. We drove by these farms often. Rich people who had massive bluegrass fields filled with all manner of horses young and old. My grandfather would take me to Churchill Downs from time to time. He was a grizzled old man who loved betting on the horses at one of the most famous race tracks in the world. The memories still fill my head. I can still smell the cigars and the stalls and the leather.
I moved away from Kentucky when I was 17 after joining the Navy but my love of Thoroughbreds never left me. As an adult, all of my visits to where I grew up involved driving by these Thoroughbred farms which are still a staple of visual life around Lexington. About 12 years ago, I began photographing the Thoroughbreds. Not always a simple task as these animals were often at a distance. Slowly I’ve accumulated a small but nice portfolio of images that have done quite well as stock photos.
The photograph above was taken in 2008 on a farm near Versailles, Kentucky. One of the many farms near the old Kentucky home. The horse is a mare named Emotion Parade, a successful Argentine Thoroughbred that raced in 2005 & 2006, with four wins and one place over a course of 8 races. At the time of this photo, she was living happily in the pasture on a Kentucky Thoroughbred farm as breeding stock.
This year I intend to return to Kentucky in late April to photograph more of these most magnificent horses of Kentucky.
When I return, I’ll share a few photographs.