The APHA Youth World Championship Show runs for 13 days—that’s 312 hours, or 18,720 minutes (cue the Rent soundtrack, am I right?). It’s also comprised of millions of little moments.
Moments where your heart is in your throat as you muster the confidence to make that first step into the pen. Moments when you press your calf into your horse and he practically floats for his leg yield. Moments of intense exhaustion and raw elation. Of joy and friendship. Of quiet reflection.
When I moved into the Youth World Show this year, I wanted to challenge myself behind the camera. After covering 12 Youth and Open/Amateur World Shows as an editor for the Paint Horse Journal, it can feel hard to find views of the show that seem fresh. Will Rogers Memorial Center feels like a second home to me…and also like I’ve explored every possible nook and weird angle.
So this year, I tried looking closer. The idea sprang from an interview I conducted with Kirstie Marie Jones, another amazing equine photographer, for an upcoming essay in Chrome magazine (beyond excited to share that with the world!), where she mentioned that she strives to deliver “girl petting her horse” to every client, but every one of those images looks different. There’s so much variety in those little everyday connections...but only if you’re looking for it.
At the Youth World Show, I saw these little connections everywhere. But I also saw beautiful nuances in the different moments every attendee encounters:
Practicing at all hours to eek out that last bit of polished excellence.
Waiting in the holding pen, where nerves run high.
After the class, as riders reflect on their patterns.
How we shine.
How we celebrate.
How we love.
All those little moments—frozen in an instant with a camera—are beautiful. And they make up the incredible energy I love so much about the World Show setting.
This was my last Youth World Show as a full-time APHA employee (Brandon and I have relocated to Oklahoma City for his medical residency) and my days at Will Rogers were a little bittersweet. I wanted to soak up all my favorite moments…even if that meant arriving for 8 a.m. showmanship and staying through the 9 p.m. ranch riding.
Seeing those little moments and making a goal to capture them also gave me a greater drive to go chase big dreams in my new home state. I’m so excited to build my business in Oklahoma and connect with a whole new community of horse lovers.
I’m thankful to each and every person I’ve met through my journey with APHA. I hope to see you at the World Show in September (yes! I’ll be back!), or even in your own private portrait session with me! ;)
Note: All photos belong to the Paint Horse Journal and are not for sale via Rachel Griffin Photography. If you see an image you LOVE, please contact APHA and they’ll direct you to the proper channels. Find even more awesome candids of the World Show on the Paint Horse Journal's gallery of candids!
As an extra treat, here’s my favorite exhibitor of the whole show: Hank and his stick horse “Megalodon!”
Megalodon’s favorite snack? Meat.