Day 1: Dressage

The dressage competition is technically split over two days, but I took the day Thursday to explore around Lexington and shoot a black background session. Friday morning was spent photographing horses on the track at Keeneland. Check out that blog post here.

Once at the Horse Park, much time was spent browsing the hundreds of vendors as well as walking around the grounds of the park. We visited the Hall of Champions, Breed Barn, Draft Barn (getting to photograph a beautiful Clydesdale and her foal), and the International Museum of the Horse. By late afternoon we finally settled down to catch some dressage rounds.

Chestnut dressage horse showing a huge extended trot.
Gray dressage horse cantering at the Kentucky Horse Park Rolex Stadium.
Bay dressage horse cantering, competing in Land Rover KY 3 Day Event.
Rider waving to the crowd after dressage round on chestnut horse.

Day 2: Cross Country

I joined up with my friend Meg (MKA Photography) and together we spent the day traversing the extensive cross country course. We tried to see as much as we could, watching two or three horses at each obstacle before proceeding on to the next. Our ultimate goal was getting "the shot" as the horses jumped into the Head of the Lake. I couldn't believe how many people were here. There were record ticket sales this year, after the event was cancelled in 2020 and ran without spectators in 2021. The crowd was nearly ten people deep around the entire lake, and we patiently inched our way through as we made a lap to find the best angle. We finally got the perfect spot, sitting on the ground underneath a big Land Rover sign. We stayed a few rounds to get the shots we wanted, then moved along to let others get a chance to be close to the action.

Landing shot of a horse jumping into the famous Head of the Lake at the KY Horse Park.
Cross country horse jumping a brush fence in the lake of the Kentucky Horse Park.
Horse and rider jumping a cross country obstacle, appearing to be heading straight for the camera.
Horse galloping through water on a cross country course.

Kentucky Invitational CSI 3*

Saturday evening after the completion of the cross country competition, the Kentucky Invitational CSI 3* Grand Prix was held in the Rolex Stadium. It's always thrilling getting to watch some of the greats like Margie Engle, Kent Farrington, and Santiago Lambre!

Landing shot of a bay horse jumping the Split Rock Jumping Tour fence
Margie Engle and Dicas, Kentucky Invitational Grand Prix
Karl Cook, Kentucky Invitational 3 star Grand Prix
Steven Bluman and Biblou, Kentucky Invitational Grand Prix

Day 3: Show Jumping

The event wrapped up on Sunday with stadium jumping. Meg and I watched the 4* rounds from the stands, but then for the 5* we found a great spot on the ground along the backside of the Rolex Stadium with some other photographers. The jumps were beautiful and it was cool getting to shoot with the huge crowd in the background.

Bay horse jumping in front of a large crowd in the Rolex Stadium at the Kentucky Horse Park
Bay horse jumping the USHJA fence in the Rolex Stadium
Bay horse jumping the USHJA fence in the Kentucky 3 Day Event
Sarah Bullimore and Corouet jumping the Mars Equestrian fence in the Rolex Stadium

World Record

Michael Jung and fischerChipmunk FRH made 5* history, finishing on their dressage score of 20.1! Michael also became the first ever four-time winner of the Kentucky 3 Day Event, making this his eleventh 5* win. It was so exciting to be in the right place at the right time for this shot, which Michael himself shared on his Instagram!!

Michael Jung winning the 2022 Land Rover Kentucky 3 Day Event

Final Thoughts

I love the Horse Park and had been here a couple times before for the hunter/jumper shows, but this was my first experience attending the 3 Day Event. The weather was perfect this year; sunny every day! I had so much fun and I absolutely will be coming back! I highly recommend this event for any horse lover. Kentucky has always been one of my favorite travel destinations, with so much to do in the area, and even just driving along the miles of pastures of the beautiful farms. There's just something about Kentucky Bluegrass that is good for the soul.