The History Behind the Lens with Cindy Lawler

For years, amateur photographer and eventing supporter Cindy Lawler has been documenting action at top equestrian events through the lens of her camera.  Cindy is not a professional photographer, but capturing moments is her passion, be it at FEI events or for friends and family celebrating life’s milestones.  She has traveled the world with her camera.


Boyd on Master Frisky, Photo Credit Cindy Lawler

Hailing from Illinois, Cindy’s own riding career started back in the early 80’s as a Pony Club young rider, working her way up to a B rating and taking on working student positions that took her throughout the US and abroad.  She competed her favorite horse Rags up through 3 Day Prelim before selling him to move east.

Her list of equestrian based jobs and travels put her in contact with many people who are still very active in the upper levels of our sport and who are competing, coaching or commentating this year at Rolex!  One of her first working student position was in 1982 in New Jersey through the United States Pony Club, working for a Elsbeth Battel at Footlight Farm who has been an owner for Jennie Brannigan.

Cindy traveled to Germany for a few months before taking a working student position at Lamplight Equestrian Center in Wayne Illinois, where she worked for 5 years while taking college courses.  During 1983/84 she rode on the SIU equestrian team, and in order to keep her horse at school, she mucked stalls and babysit the children for Meghan O’Donahue’s Parents –prior to Meghan being born!

Her childhood riding in the mid-west also put her in contact with Dr. Kevin Keane, who helped her Pony Club with vet questions and clinic tours, as the DC of her pony club was a next door neighbor to Kevin’s family.  It’s a thrill for her now to photograph him
cruising around the cross country at the Rolex Kentucky 3 Day Event!

Cindy’s horse adventures brought  her east, grooming mainly for Lisa Anderson (Lisa’s mom was the head of the US Pony Club and a TD) at Lamplight before trekking east with her to the home of the United States Equestrian Team in 1985-87 to South Hamilton Mass.

“The US Equestrian Team had two places, one in South Hamilton and of course Hamilton Farms in New Jersey, we all called it Gladstone– where I was able to stay in the dorms like the riders it was an amazing experience –during the years with Jack LeGoff and Captain Mark Phillips who was coming over for clinics –We went to all the shows on the east coast and l loved it!”

Lisa and 4 other riders lived and worked at the team, taking daily instruction from Jack Le Goff.  David O’Connor had just moved out to be a rider in residence, Cindy Collier Rowan and Kerri Millikan were also part of the program.

In 1988 she traveled to Moat House in England to get her teaching certification AI, where she worked in a dressage yard and was able to go Badminton before heading home to teach for 3 summers in Vermont at Brown Ledge Farm.   In 1993 her high school trainer ran a Therapeutic Riding Stable where she went to teach,  “I apprenticed for a few months and they sent me to Cheff Center in MI to get my certifications where I received my Advanced Certifications — I taught Therapeutic Riding for approximately 5 years — with the hightlight being head groom at the 1996 Paralympics in GA!”

1n 1996 family tragedy struck Cindy’s family when her step sister died in a plane crash, leaving 2 children and their father, who then died in 1999 in a separate car accident, leaving two boys she had to help raise.   Cindy’s equestrian career was put on hold as she concentrated on making a living and raising the boys, taking a position for Allstate Insurance managing independent adjusters for their catastrophe team. To this day, and with that job, she remains a road warrior, but her rotational schedule gives her the time and frequent flyer benefits to travel the US to spectate at upper level events.

“In 2010 I picked up a camera and found I really loved taking pictures.  My mom said ‘lets go back to Rolex’ –one of our favorite places — where I rode in 1983 at the Pony Club Championships at the Horse Park and groomed there in 1984/85 (receiving the grooms award in 1985). We have spectated here many times, even at the 78 World Championships!  So I bring my camera and have a blast combining my favorite sport with my favorite hobby — What could be better!”

The team here at Windurra USA wishes to extend our thanks to Cindy for generously sharing her photos and memories of this world class event, which has been an industry destination for eventing enthusiast for decades!


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