Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sometimes appearances are everything!

I've frequently talked about how important it is to look at what you put on your farm's web site with an eye to how the world will see it, if you are intending to sell horses or stud fees or training or pretty much anything. (If your site is just for fun and is Suzie and her three rescue geldings, oh heck, do whatever makes you happy...glittering flying horses galore.)

You don't need an expensive, professionally done site, but you do need to ensure that the pictures you put up show your horses to their best advantage. This means posing them properly, bathing them, clipping them up, and displaying them properly. If they are loose in the field, the field should look appealing with no junk, scary fence, etc. in the background. If they are haltered, use a properly fitted halter that does not look like a terrier puppy has been using it as a chew toy. If they are ridden, use properly fitted tack and a rider who is decently outfitted for riding (i.e. no midriff shirts, bra tops, shirtlessness on guys, shorts, flip flops, crocs). You are riding a horse, not feature dancing at the Spearmint Rhino - no one wants to see your nipples. Seriously.

It's true for rescues as well as breeding farms and trainers, which is why I went out to help SOS Equines with their spa day on Saturday...we got some horses cleaned up and took much better pictures of them.

Which picture makes you want to give this rescue horse a chance? Same horse but with a bath, a detangled and conditioned mane and tail, a bridle path and his ears up, he looks like he has so much more potential. (Yes, we should have found a more uncluttered background for the "after" shot, and the halter is still not properly fitted. But it's an improvement.)

(This attractive gelding did find a home, but FYI they have a super cute La Saboteur daughter who needs a place to go right now...click here)

Especially in this economy, if you want to place or sell horses, they need to look good. So I'm always a little confused as to why I see breeding farm web sites with pictures like this one. Look, it's Furball McShag. Putting a show halter on a horse you haven't bothered to even clip a bridle path on is like putting on a cute strapless dress but forgetting to shave your pits. It looks ridiculous. Then there's the fact that the halter is hanging down so low that it's almost over his nostrils, and it's paired with an old cotton lead instead of a show lead.

The immediate impression of lack of professionalism is further enhanced by the web site's copy. Apparently he is "out of" World Champion sire Troubles A Brewing. Ooookay. That I'd like to see. Ouch. Come on guys, how confusing a term is "out of," anyway? OUT OF. I am pretty damn sure he came OUT OF a mare. If not, call Ripley's Believe it or Not!

They claim their other stud is OUT OF Zippo Pine Bar. Well, not only I am certain that's not physically possible, but Zippo Pine Bar was foaled 2 years after I was and therefore I'm equally certain he does not have any five year old sons running around. I was so interested to find out what the actual breeding here was that I spent the $3 to look it up. Well, ZPB is his great-grandsire. He's actually by a Jack of No Trades called Ima Commander Zippo. Uh, false advertising much?

Don't get me started on their sale page where you can buy the Zippo's False Advertising horse for $2500 with a truly hideous "conformation" shot or a "versitial" Arabian for $1000. And why is the fugly-necked paint foal parked out?

For those who think I am too harsh on breeders like this, let me give you an analogy. Let's say you opened up your Sunday paper and there was a dealership with a Nissan for sale describing it as having a 12 cylinder engine, anti-latch brakes, a DC player and power storing. After you got done laughing, my guess is your first thought would be "what a bunch of idiots" and "how can they be in the car business if they don't know anything about cars?" That's my point. The horse business is a business and if you can't conduct it with the same level of professionalism and demonstrated knowledge of your product that we'd expect in any other business, you shouldn't be in it. This is just another example of someone breeding stunningly mediocre horses that have a high chance of ending up in a kill pen. You'd really think that by now, given this economy and how difficult it is to sell young stock that aren't high quality show or race prospects, people would be starting to get the message, but linnks to these web sites keep showing up in my in-box...

By the way, I'm having a very amusing back-and-forth with AHA regarding my recent blog about them. Apparently Kenna Ashley was just an innocent admin who accidently forwarded around an internal memo (don't you hate when that happens?) and is concerned about all the skeery internet people e-mailing her about the pro-slaughter crap. So please, stop e-mailing her. I think you should e-mail the dude I'm going back and forth with if you don't agree with AHA's pro-slaughter stance. His name is Dan Lawrence and he's their Director of Marketing. Remember, threats are never acceptable (other than the threat to stop paying membership fees and showing at their events - that's fine!) - opinions are, and strong opinions are understandable given the subject matter but a profanity-free, logical letter is always best!
(Hey, Dan? I'm not your attorney. I don't have a duty of confidentiality to you or your organization. And I don't like people who think it's okay for horses to end their lives in a slaughterhouse. So remember that what you e-mail me may very well wind up on this blog.)