Raw Moments: Rich Fellers and Flexible
These past few weeks have been unbelievable for me. Although I came very close to attaining Media Credentials for the Olympics in London, I just didn’t quite make the cut. I’m over it, promise. I believe there’s a reason for everything, so I’m looking forward to whatever that is during the last few weeks in July and into August. Out of all the places I’ve travelled to this year, Spruce Meadows (Calgary, AB, Canada) takes first place. All 4 +1 alternate USA Showjumping Team members were there and not only did I get to cover their competing over the Olympic Observation Event weekend during The Continental, but I also had the privilege to shoot 2 team members behind the scenes, as well as get a photo with them just hours after they received “the call.”
There’s nothing like shooting the competitions, but there’s something special about capturing the moments in between the competitions; when rider’s and their horses are back at the barn, doing all the nitty gritty, day to day tasks that involve competing at the international level. It’s a privilege to be up-close and I’m thankful for every small, raw moment of life that I am able to capture. These moments in time will never happen again.
These photos were taken after the final Observation Class, Rich and Flexible just laid down their 5th consecutive win since the World Cup Finals (Holland). I ducked out early from the awards to head back to the barn. Rachel (one of Flexible’s grooms) was back there, along with the FEI vet to get a urine sample. Flexible went straight back to the barn after his final jump off round, and Reed Kessler let Rich ride her Mika for the victory lap.
Seeing Flexible behind the scenes is surreal. Hard to imagine this little guy jumps 1.60m verticals and has beat the best in the world. He’s not cuddly or sweet horse, he’s a competitor and all down to business (like rider like horse). He still had his braids and his coat was dried with sweat from the big class he’d won less than 20 minutes ago. He didn’t mind the camera, somewhat curious, but very much looking for dinner and treats.
These photos captured what I saw that day. A fierce competitor, peaking in form, focused and unaware of his height or all the odds that seemed stacked against him. He’s there to do his job with HIS rider. The photo of when Rich walked up to “Flexi” in the wash rack captures the bond they have with each other. Flexi perked up the moment Rich pulled up on his bike. They have a mutual respect, trust, and power to get around a gigantic course, fault free.
Thank you to Rich Fellers and his team for letting me follow them around. Thank you to Melodie at the Media Center at Spruce for helping me complete this assignment. Thank you to Chronicle of the Horse for the support and platform for these and other photos from Spruce Meadows.
[Photos were shot with Nikon D90, 50mm f/1.-1.4, colored in LR3 using VSCO Film]