From both sides...

It was certainly and interesting weekend here in the Flathead. Summer is here and with these precious days of light and warmth there are more events going on than any one person could attend. This weekend I found myself experiencing two extremes of one sport. Competition riding. On the one hand there is the extreme formality of The Event at Rebecca Farm, an equestrian triathlon consisting of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. On the other hand, my very first rodeo (welcome to Montana).

I have loved horses since I was a little girl. I think my love of horses grew out of an early obsession with Unicorns, or was it the other way around?. I grew up in Saudi Arabia, home of the most majestic horses I have ever seen, the Arabians. There is just something about them when they run. I have never found the words for it, but to me they are the most beautiful. I didn't see a lot of my favorites this weekend, but I did get to find quite a few new favorites. Personally I loved the coloring of the gray and white Irish horses. The photo up top is a thoroughbred, not an Irish, but that's the look that I loved. That was one of my favorite photos from this weekend. It's not the peak action stuff that all photographers go looking for. But rather it is a quiet moment, a behind-the-scenes, if you will.

There were also moments like this one: a student completes her ride and gets a congratulations from her coach. At an event like The Event there is a lot of emotion, but not a lot of it on display. Is it the tuxedos they wear when they are competing? Is it the sound of Nigel's voice, the announcer from West Virginia who still retains his English accent? I have always been told to remain calm around horses, that they can easily pick up on the feelings of their riders. So perhaps it is that high emotions are detrimental to the horses sense of calm? I don't know. The sport is elegant, and maybe it's simply that elegance prefers restraint.

This is Karen O'Connor of Ocala, Fl., and her horse Mandiba competing in the Cross-Country challenge on Saturday and on the right, just after completing the Show Jumping challenge with no rail or time penalties on Sunday afternoon at The Event at Rebecca Farm. O'Connor, a three-tim Olympic competitor, and Mandiba, an eleven year old bay thoroughbred, finished with a final score of  44.2 winning the HSBC FEI Wold Cup.

Both events were fascinating in their own way. There will be more rodeos to come so doubtless I will be exploring that side of the sport more in the months to come. But for me this weekend was an absolute treat. It took me back to being a little girl and the love and awe that I still feel when I am around horses. Now, if only I could capture the way I feel on film...