Finally! Despite a weird snowstorm on Monday, I think it might be spring. And with kiddo getting older and more self sufficient, hopefully that means more horse time for me. Miss Lumpyhead is doing great – I recently took her on a trail ride that went way longer than I anticipated and exposed her to all kinds of things – puddles, car traffic, lawnmowers, big huge loud dogs on ziplines (that scared me more than it scared her), and various other weird little obstacles and things that required her to think. She was a champ, though I think I overdid it a little and kept her out a little past her tolerance point. On the way back we ended up leaving the group behind because she was getting worried about being held back and was happier at a forward walk. Lovely mare. I tried to take helmetcam video, but had the camera on the wrong setting so instead just got a load of pictures of the tips of her ears. oops.
In other news, I wanted to get back on track here and showcase some before/afters, and horses whose sale pictures were horrible yet actually are really really nice. One of the things we run into a lot on our trainer listings are photos that just DO NOT do the horses justice. This happens for a lot of reasons – the ground at the track is not level ANYWHERE – it is all sloped for drainage. If you are not super attentive, you may not even realize the horse is standing in a hole.
The horse handlers aren’t great at standing them up, in a lot of cases, even if you explain how you want the horse to look. They will often encourage the horse to hold its head up really high or turn and look at you.
Then we have the more nuanced things like proportion, lighting, perspective, which our volunteers rarely have time to think about because we only get a few minutes each time and the horses often think they’re going out to work or do something interesting, and “standing pretty” isn’t on their list of interesting things to do. So we take what we can get, and do our best, but the result is that a lot of our pictures come out… well, not terribly flattering to the lovely horses we see in front of us. The sad part is the end result of this is less interest in certain horses. People often decide whether a horse is even worth a look based on a split-second reaction to a photo – even when a good eye can see the nice conformation and build of a horse in an awkward position, that immediate gut reaction is often what makes or breaks a person’s response to that horse.
Needless to say, we’re trying to improve.
But I thought it would be fun to find horses who had horrifically bad track listing pictures and see what they’re up to now, and how they look.
First up is a lovely horse who I admit I was a bit worried about way back when. I got the photos and description and just thought “oh no.” He was a bit special looking, and the photos weren’t doing him many favors. I thought for sure he’d sit on the listings forever.
He’s got a range of things not going for him in that picture. He has a droopy lip. His neck is skinny. He’s standing in a very tight, weird, sort of hunched way, and the perspective of the photo isn’t right. While folks like me (who like big ears and plain heads) find a lot about this horse to be endearing, let’s face it, it’s not the most flattering pic in terms of finding an immediate buyer.
But something crazy happened with this horse. He actually was sold pretty fast. I’m not sure who he sold to initially, but I found him later while wandering through the bloodline brag on the RRTP website (a way I’ve found a bunch of horses that we posted on our trainer listings now that they’re in new careers). If you’ve bought a horse off the track, I highly recommend posting it there so we can stumble onto you later (or just email us. But post it there too).
After being bought off the track, his buyer, from what I understand, hopped on him once, stuck him in a field, and put him up for sale. And then he was purchased by the lovely Heidi Wardle, who is a great area event rider. She’s since sold him, but I thought I would link to his old sale page anyway so people can see how nice he cleaned up. He doesn’t look fundamentally different if you look closely, just much better muscles and presented beautifully. But I’m thinking a lot more people would be interested in this horse:
(sorry to make you click the link, but I didn’t want to steal pictures. :))
For more on how Heidi found Joey, what he looked like when she got him, etc, check out her blog entry introducing him:
(I also really recommend reading along on her blog anyway. It’s a good ‘un.)