Barrel Racing at the Fair

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.

Rounding a barrel during the New York State Fair Barrel Racing Championship on Saturday, August 2, 2010.

Rounding a barrel during the New York State Fair Barrel Racing Championship on Saturday, August 2, 2010. Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 5600, EV -0.3, 70mm focal length.

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.

Crash!  A barrel is knocked over which will result in a time penalty for the rider.

Crash! A barrel is knocked over which will result in a time penalty for the rider. Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 5000, EV -0.3, 200mm focal length.

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.

A horse and rider go down during the barrel racing event at the New York State Fair on Saturday, August 28, 2010.

A horse and rider go down during the barrel racing event at the New York State Fair on Saturday, August 28, 2010. Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 2800, EV -0.3, 116mm focal length.

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.

Upon rounding the last barrel, riders urge their mounts at full gallop to the finish line.

Upon rounding the last barrel, riders urge their mounts at full gallop to the finish line. Nikon D700/70-200VR, 1/160s, f/2.8, ISO 3200, EV -0.3, 160mm focal length.

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.

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12 Responses to Barrel Racing at the Fair

  1. Gerry says:

    I’ll bet the photos you did get of your daughter are precious, and the memories evergreen.

    And I’ll bet the rider in that last image will treasure it a long time from now. What a great shot!

    Like

  2. Anna says:

    I do so enjoy barrel racing and missed the events here this year for barrel racing. These are great action shots! Wow on the third shot as rider and horse go down!

    Like

  3. milkayphoto says:

    I’m pretty sure in a race against a static barrel I’d win… 😉

    Synthetic dirt??? Seriously?? Never thought I’d hear such a thing!

    Great DOF on the last shot! That cowgirl is going for gold!! 🙂

    Like

    • LOL…I bet you just would, too, Tracy. 😉 There is a name for the dirt but I couldn’t remember it so synthetic worked as it is not natural. Stuff looks hard and slippery to me but the horses manage.

      Thanks, still getting used to what the D700 can do.

      Like

  4. giiid says:

    Wow, such great action photos you have made, I am surprised about the time, – only 1/160 s. You have to give the girl at the last photo a copy, it is such a wonderful and happy photo. Synthetic dirt…..poor horses.

    Like

  5. Love the last shot – the expression on her face and the slight motion blur on the horse’s legs is great.

    Like

  6. Nye says:

    The dirt looks so real especially in photos. I love the last shot, such expression on her face. I hope you did some panning photos. 🙂

    Like

  7. Pingback: Back to the New York State Fair | Views Infinitum

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