03.27.16: Horse, trees, sky

150416Claiborne002.jpg

A horse stands on the crest of a hill, Claiborne Farm, Paris, Ky.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK ARCHIVES

Technical information

Date/time:
April 16, 2015,
10:51 a.m.

Location
38°11’25” N,
84°14'41" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Camera: 
Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Lens: 
Canon EF-S 18-135mm  f/3.5-5.6 IS STM (121mm)  

Aperture: 
f/5.6

Shutter: 
1/500th second

ISO: 
200

I was born in northeastern Kentucky and we return to the state several times a year to visit family and friends. It’s a beautiful state — the rolling hills of the Ohio River Valley, the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, the open fields and horse farms in the Bluegrass region in central Kentucky … there is always something to see, including some scenes that make you stop and say “wow!”

You could say I’m biased, since I’m from Kentucky. But non-natives tend to react the same way.

A few years ago Steven Kurutznov, a New York Times reporter, visited Kentucky with a friend to spend time touring the Kentucky Bourbon Trail each day and listening to live Bluegrass music each evening. The trip resulted in an excellent, long story in the Times (Nov. 4, 2007) that included this passage about why out-of-state Kentuckians always talk of going home: 

"Traveling the blue highways of Kentucky, drinking in the scenery, the well-groomed horse pastures and sleepy farm towns, I began to understand why. Driving northwest toward Bardstown, we saw weather-beaten barns with tobacco hanging inside to dry; flat, verdant fields; wide farm valleys with a forest line in the distance. Every time I declared a landscape the prettiest I’d yet seen, we’d go around a bend and I’d have to amend my choice."

Beautiful prose about a beautiful state.

I shot this photo as we were beginning a visit to Claiborne Farm, the historic horse farm near Paris, Ky., east of Lexington. As we were climbing out of the car in the small parking lot I noticed a solitary horse grazing on the crest of a hill, positioned perfectly in a gap in a tree line. The spring trees were just beginning to bud so each branch was well defined against a cloudy sky. 

The scene looked so serene, so tranquil. It captured the region’s mood, its character, its atmosphere. So I grabbed a few shots before we began the visit.

And what a visit it was.

Claiborne Farm is a thoroughbred horse breeding operation that was established in the early 1900s by Arthur B. Hancock and has been operated by members of his family ever since. It has been the home of Triple Crown winners, winners of the Kentucky Derby and other major stakes races, and some of the most successful sires in the history of horse racing.

We visited the cemetery that serves as the final resting place for the famed Secretariat and other top stakes winners from the past, including Gallant Fox, Johnstown, Riva Ridge, Bold Ruler and Swale. My wife got to pet Orb, the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner now standing at stud at Claiborne, and War Front, a leading sire whose offspring have sold for millions of dollars. We learned more than we ever needed to know about the breeding process. And we had a blast.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.