Bossier City, LA – At the end of the 2022 Louisiana Downs Thoroughbred meet, esteemed photographer Lou Hodges, Jr. passed the baton to assistant Ann Switalski. He remains the official photographer at Fair Grounds but was looking to have some time off in the summer, after handling duties at Louisiana Downs since 2005.

Hodges hired Ann McKnight Switalski in 2016. An avid equestrienne, she began taking photos of morning works and benefited greatly from the expertise of Hodges.

“Lou made sure I understood that there is a very limited time to get the shots we need: the stretch, wire and comeback,” said Switalski.  “He taught me the importance of getting the horse in front to allow room for editing.”

The transition has been smooth as silk with Switalski completing the 2023 Quarter Horse season with total professionalism, aided by her assistant, Dawn Thomas.

Switalski is always looking for creative shots and when she is photographing a mile and 70 yard main track on the dirt, she will stroll to the gate as they load in hopes of capturing an interesting moment. On June 18, she had a most interesting opportunity.

“I took several shots as the horses left the gate and noticed some unusual movement,” explained Switalski. “After the race and back in my office, it was clear that all of the horses emerged from the gate except one. Upon further investigation I discovered a horse rearing higher and higher in each progressive shot until I almost couldn’t see his head.”

The horse was End Zone Athletics’ Aligned Interest, trained by Karl Broberg with jockey Juan Vargas guiding his mount from the awkward break to a sixth-place finish, without any issues.

“I believe my reaction when I reviewed the shot was “Holy Crap,” she added.

The management and of course, the horsemen who run at Louisiana Downs admire Switalski and hope their racehorses will pop up in their future spontaneous moments!

Rearing Gate Shot by LAD photographer Ann McKnight Switalski
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