by Kristina Kern and Emily Baker
The 2016 show year is under way at the Colorado Horse Park with the second week of the spring circuit- the High Prairie Spring Classic. While the footing improvements are still in progress in preparation for the summer circuit, the show must go on! We spent some time at the show and chronicled our experience there. Check out our High Prairie Spring Classic Photo Journal:
by Kristina Kern
An image is more than just a thousand words, it is a story. One of impactful moments, big accomplishments, and dreams turning into reality. It takes a trained and creative eye to freeze these stories in a photograph and make them last for a lifetime. It almost appears to be magic. In that sense, photographer, Christy Burleson, is a very talented magician.
With over 20 years of photography experience, Burleson has been able to blend her passion for horses with her love of photography to create a career that most could only dream of. Christy boasts a stunning portfolio of photos from her years in the industry that ranges from family photo shoots and weddings to cattle branding and Grand Prix jumper classes.
In fact, in Thermal, California at this year's $100,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix, as Rich Fellers stole the show aboard Lux Lady with a jump off time of 39.052 seconds Burleson was there behind the lens.
After partnering with companies like Purina and Performance Microbials to photograph sponsored riders, Christy expanded her business exponentially. This move has sent her around the country to shoot various events, including Wellington, Florida to cover portions of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival. During our interview, Burleson humbly depicted a grocery list of accomplished riders that she has had the pleasure of working with over the years. “My photography has allowed me the opportunity to meet some of the most amazing people.. a name like Purina attracts a high caliber of rider..” she stated of her career.
In between traveling for different equestrian competitions, Burleson fills her days with personalized photo shoots, designed to highlight each individual's unique passion for the sport. “I want my images to empower people, to make people happy, to bring out people's personality,” Burleson stated.
When thumbing through Burleson’s portfolio of images, it is clear that behind each image there is purpose, there is a deeper message. She said of her craft, “I love taking special photos that can touch a family and give them something that will last them forever.” Her talent goes beyond the action shot and allows her to blend artistry and sport together to create a level of duality within her images. Burleson’s photography style can both capture the ethereal beauty of the horse and rider relationship, along with the strength and determination of a horse on the job.
Burleson’s keen eye was developed through her own experiences with horses. She frequently competes with her gelding Peps Smokin for Cash, also known as Rebel, in rodeos around the western region, specifically spending her time in the barrel racing arena. Rebel is Burleson’s trusted assistant when it comes to more active photoshoots. It is not uncommon to see her riding along side her subjects to obtain the best shots.
Burleson has successfully been able to immortalize her love for the equestrian world by creating her own unique path within the industry. She not only freezes time for her subjects in front of the camera but has been able to preserve her own passion for a lifetime. Burleson truly has created magic.
**Look for Part II of the series from our conversation with Christy Burleson and more of her images coming soon.
by Emily Baker
Anyone who has been to the Colorado Horse Park over the years knows that there is one change competitors have been eagerly awaiting: new footing. The day has finally come.
Wellington, Florida based company Equestrian Services International (ESI) has been contracted for the job. They have also done the footing for such complexes and competitions as Wellington, Tryon Equestrian Center, Kentucky, the Hampton Classic, Devon, Harrisburg Indoors, and Spruce Meadows.
Brett Raflowitz of ESI said that the current footing at the Horse Park is a sand base with a “band-aid” of sorts. The Horse Park had previously attempted a short term fix, but the time has come for a long term solution.
This spring, ESI is installing an All Weather footing and drainage system in four of the twelve arenas at the Colorado Horse Park. The arenas undergoing improvements are the Derby Field (to be renamed the International Arena), the Grand Prix Ring (now named The Coors Family Arena), the Coles Arena, and Hunter 4 according to Lisa Klymkow of the Colorado Horse Park. This footing is identical to that found at other top competition facilities around the country. Raflowitz states that the installation of the new footing will allow competition to continue regardless of Colorado’s unpredictable weather conditions.
ESI’s All Weather footing consists of a mixture of High Quality Sand, Geo Felt, and Special Fibers which provide cushion and spring for the horses. It is the optimal footing for high level jumping and dressage arenas. In order for the All Weather footing to be most effective it must be installed with a drainage system similar to a large septic tank beneath the arena.
Raflowitz says of the project, “The quality of what it’s going to do for the horse show is extreme really. Now they won’t have to worry about weather conditions and what’s happening. It’ll allow them to run the horse show more efficiently and it’ll allow them to increase their numbers. Per arena they should almost be able to double their numbers.”
To a Colorado competitor this means a few things: no more flooded arenas when it rains, more supportive footing for our animals, and the potential for a higher level of competition here in state.
This portion of the project is expected to be completed before the start of the Spring Preview in the second week of May. Raflowitz states that the rest of the arenas are anticipated to be completed as well during the show offseasons in the upcoming years.