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  Field Notes From
Kentucky Horse Country

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Kentucky Horse Country On AssignmentArrows

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From Photographer

Melissa Farlow

Kentucky Horse Country On Assignment

View Field Notes
From Author

Shane DuBow

In most cases these accounts are edited versions of a spoken interview. They have not been researched and may differ from the printed article.

Photographs by Melissa Farlow


Kentucky Horse Country

Field Notes From Photographer
Melissa Farlow
Best Worst Quirkiest

   The assignment was a bit nostalgic for me because it was like going home. I'm originally from a town a couple of hours away from Lexington. My very first assignment as a professional photographer at the Courier Journal newspaper was to take photographs at the Kentucky Derby. It was amazing that 28 years later I was standing on the very same track listening to "My Old Kentucky Home" again, watching the horses parade before the start of the race. I felt the same excitement and adrenaline rush when I heard the thunder and pounding of the hooves as the horses ran by. 
    I saw some of the same people—old friends I used to work with.

   There's no real "worst" story. Foals are born in the middle of the night, so I was sometimes up at two or three in the morning to photograph a mare in labor waiting to deliver. And then a few hours later the farm managers and the workers were up at dawn to start their day. So it was hard to find time to sleep. But that's the kind of thing you go through on any assignment. You adapt to the pace of life wherever you are photographing.

   I was photographing a 72-million-dollar racehorse named Fusaichi Pegasus while he was being bathed and groomed. He lives on an amazingly beautiful farm where there is someone attending to his every need. He has a brass nameplate on his stall and fresh straw is mounded up every day to make a plush bed. He was about to be taken to a barn where he was being bred for a lot of money—when my cell phone rang.
    It was my husband, Randy Olson, on assignment in Sudan. He was calling me on a satellite phone—his voice was flat and empty as he described the war-torn area he was photographing—the hundreds of flies landing on him—the heat of 130°F (50°C), and he was with people who only had leaves to eat. He was terribly concerned about airlifting some wounded men out of a war zone.
    And there I was with this horse that lives a pampered life, and my main concern was that I was worried about photographing a Derby party that night! We were in such different worlds. I guess you never know what's going to happen when the cell phone rings, but I wasn't expecting that!

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