Monday, February 29, 2016

Live Oak International Equine Competition

Yep.  It seems that Ocala, Florida is the horse capital of the country.  Live Oak International started 25 years ago as a driving competition, but in 2012 expanded to include jumping and is part of the Longine World Cup Grand Prix.  This is the event Pam and I saw on Sunday, and I was totally blown away.

To begin with, it was a picture perfect day, meaning the weather was wonderful (sunny and in the high 70s) but which also means it was lousy for pictures, at least by my standards.  I dislike harsh light and prefer overcast or shade, unless I can get some early or late day low sun lighting.  Not to be, but these photos are the best I could manage.

What is impressive to me is the incredible athleticism of these horses.  Take a gander at these photos and how high these animals can jump!  Holy crap.  The skill of the rider must also be taken into account, and even a novice like me noticed how the rider isn't just along for the ride, part a part of the synergy of the pair.  The lower body muscles needed to compete here were quite evident.

To enter, it costs about $1.000 per contestant.   There is prize money to be had though, with the winner of the jumping competition the lion's share of $100,000.  Here is the prize form.  Not that these folks mind paying a mere grand to enter, or need a $25,000 first prize award.  I sense that there is a lot of money here.

This was one of my favorite things to photograph.  Ever.  I rank it right up there with Savannah's Scottish Games.  Pam and I hope to come back next year to spend a few days here, including seeing the driving events.

Live Oak Plantation, by the way, is a HUGE horse operation, and has bred and raced many winning thoroughbreds for many years.

Yep.  Pamela is in her element here.  She's loving it.