This is my fourth year of photographing the New York State Fair Barrel Racing Championship event. Barrel racing is an exciting horse riding event where rider and horse circumvent around three empty 55 gallon barrels arranged in a triangle. The object is to race around each barrel without knocking any of them over. Time is kept for each run and the fastest horse and rider wins.
Horses dig in as they round each barrel leaning at almost impossible angles. Dirt being thrown in all directions. Riders looking ahead to the next barrel.
The 2010 event featured a lot of barrels knocked down and, for the first time, I saw a horse loose its footing and go down. I think a lot had to do with the change of surface in the Coliseum. In years past it was a thick layer of natural dirt. In an effort to save money, there is now a synthetic dirt surface which is not as good for the horse’s footing on such a high speed agility course.
Considering they have less than 30 feet to stop after breaking the timing laser before hitting the end boards, they fly at full gallop after rounding the last barrel.
The Coliseum at the New York State Fairgrounds was where my daughter competed in show horse competitions for years. I was never able to get any good photos of her as my film cameras and lenses were not good enough, even with flash and panning, to get consistent results. The Nikon D700 digital SLR camera and Nikon 70-200VR f/2.8 lens gave me excellent results without flash. No noise reduction was used on any of the photos above.