As the shadows began to crawl across the arena at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, the final rides of the Grand Prix 5* were some of the class of 30 entries top competitors. There had been many good rides, but with costly mistakes, and there were not many results over the 70 mark. Even the slightest of missteps affected the scores of the day, and the judging showed no mercy. The crowd knew what they were watching and you could hear audible reactions to even the slightest of bobbles.
The golden light of "magic hour", something that can never be created by artificial lighting was taking over the arena - a photographer's challenge. Laura Graves and Verdades, the final entry of the class entered for their test.
Laura and her soul mate Diddy had slipped from the top rankings in the previous show, in an uncharacteristic performance, yet part of the evolution in the world class level of expectation and performance. "He's developed such an idea of what he's supposed to do at these shows now," Laura commented. "We take his boots off, and he gets excited. He hears the audience, and he gets excited. These things didn't used to mean much to him, but now he knows what he gets to do," Graves elaborated.
So in her Grand Prix a new approach "Today, our goal was to really ride him down. We wanted him to feel like he could stretch the whole time and just stay relaxed."
There is so much as a photographer you get to see from the 300 millimeter lens. It feels possible to reach into the soul of the horse sometimes, to see the eye, focus, concern, insecurity, trust. As Laura and "Diddy" completed their one tempi changes with confidence and ease, she gave him soft pat of thanks and assurance as she passed by A showing their love and trusting each other.
The judges rewarded the effort pleased to top their long day with the top result of 76.440%.
And Laura and Diddy rewarded the photographers, who had persevered all day with some magic hour moments.