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Rodeo Girls

i love action shots! 
i get a thrill out of trying to frame the shot while the body, or horse, car, ball, etc is in motion. i love to feel the energy through the athlete's body or face.

this past winter i got to shoot some pictures of my friend Rachel and her teammates at a couple of their high school rodeos.

here's what i love about the rodeo: behind the pageantry, the fancy boots and shirts, and the beautiful horses; there is a whole other world.  it's a world of dust, sweat, strength, determination and honesty.  there's a sense of teamwork, of right and wrong, of respect for the animals and each other.  there's a presence of family and community. these things don't always seem to be in great abundance in today's world of sports.  these girls ride hurt, they ride scared, they ride together.  when they don't do well, when they are assessed a penalty, when they miss the glory by just a hair... do they cry,whine, argue, disrespect or quit like so many professional athletes these days? 
nope
they cowgirl up! 
they dig their heels in, re-assess and try again... with a nod of the hat, and an air of determination.

when one girl, as you'll see if you take a look at the slide show, had trouble getting her horse in the gate (and we're talking trouble with a capital T) she didn't quit... and neither did her friends.  these girls are competing as a team, but also against each other.  so if you get disqualified because you can't get your horse through the gate, every one else moves up a notch, right?  so they just sit back and wonder if you'll make it right?
not these girls.
as this horse took off through the trucks and trailers, rearing and bucking like a champion bronc, two other girls saddled up, rode up alongside, and literally herded the spooking horse toward the gate.  12 thundering hooves, approaching the gate at a full gallop... and then the two pealed off on either side and reined up just short of the gate, letting the horse and rider charge through the gate to compete.  
for me it was a thrilling moment... when i got home and saw the pictures i was stunned.  they may not be perfect photographs, but.. the look of joy and satisfaction on the friend's faces.....the true grit and guts and bravery and determination on the rider's face...  the pure power and energy and muscle and spirit in the horse's body...

and then at the end of the day, they smile sweet as sugar and thank you for coming out to see them :)

yeah... i'm hooked on Rodeo Girls!




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