His name was Winsome Andante, otherwise known as Dan. It was the year 2005 and it was my first Rolex as a credentialed photographer. Any photographer who has photographed Kentucky Rolex 3Day event knows that shooting this event is not for the weak of heart. You shoot for four long days in completely unpredictable weather. I admit, I had no idea what I was in for. The rain came down hard during dressage, unprepared I only had a trash bag and an rubber band to protect my camera. I didn't mind the rain really... I was overwhelmed by my surroundings and completely immersed in the sound of the roaring crowd. Horse and riders came and went test after test but none of them caught my attention like Kim and Dan. Kim Severson and Winsome Andante passed by the media island after their dressage test and gave an encouraging smile to the sopping wet media folks. You could tell from the reaction of the spectators that this horse and rider team was the beloved favorite. It was a tough Rolex that year. Two days of rain during the dressage phase left a very soggy and dangerous cross country course, not to mention it was bitterly cold on that Saturday in April. I felt like a pioneer woman settling the land, hunger and exhaustion were real as you tried to ignore your basic instincts. Sunday came and with it the sunshine. The Sun was taunting our exposures as it peaked itself in and out of the passing clouds. That year I learned the value of applying sunblock to the my entire hands as they slowly burned in the heat of the afternoon. Sunday is stadium jumping. The day is short and sweet but it is also the last of your exhausting four days of shooting and long nights editing. Alas, it was time for Kim and Dan to complete the final phase of Rolex. The crowd was silent. Jump after jump they cleared them all. I will never forget the moment as Kim and Dan jumped over the final fence. She and Dan knew they had won! I caught that moment on camera, what a treasure. Kim's hand went up in the air in victory and Dan picked up a new speed as they galloped their way to victory. I tried to keep myself together as I held back my tears of joy. I realized that I had witnessed history. My heart was pounding as the crowd came up off of their feet cheering on the victorious winners! Part of me felt like we were all on this adventure together, the crowds, the riders, the horses, and my fellow media - at that moment it felt like we all won.
Winsome Andante you not only touched my life that day but I believe you touched all of our lives. It's hard to believe you did it all over again in 2006. You truly are a wonder horse.