When it comes to sales videos, here’s what I’d like to see and never do:
Conformation. Front, back, and both sides. I want to see the feet from the front, from the side, underneath, and I want to see the shoes if there are any.
I want to see the horse being led in hand, naked except for a halter, walking directly towards the camera and away from the camera. I’m greedy, so I want to see the walk from the side too. Both sides, in fact. I want to see the horse being turned in hand.
Show me how the horse is for a quick grooming.
Show me how the horse behaves while tacking up. I want to see the bit that’s going into the horse’s mouth.
Don’t decide that mounting doesn’t matter (you don’t really believe that, do you?), so you don’t have to show me. You do. I spend too much time teaching horses how to stand quietly while being mounted and helping my students do the same. I’m ready to keep on fixing it, I’d just like to know I’ll be doing so again. Or not. If your horse stands still while being mounting from the ground, goody. Show me. It’s a sales video, right?
If more owners and agents thought of the sales videos for their horses as infomercials, I would spend far less time yawning or being irritated. Have you ever watched an infomercial? I don’t know about you, but if I don’t turn it off right away, I’m watching for a while. It’s fascinating to see how far they’ll go to make the banal interesting and, even though my parents were both native New Yorkers, I tend to believe. I haven’t done it yet…but I am tempted to order the Brazilian Butt Lift as well as that black goop that will seal everything (featured in the infomercial where they replace the bottom of the boat with a screen door, add the goop and the boat doesn’t leak).
Where’s that kind of stuff in horse sale videos? I don’t expect to see the equivalent of the storm door with black goop in the bottom of the boat, but can’t we be a little more creative?
How about walk, trot, canter in both directions with no cutting? How about the horse seeking the bit and stretching into the contact at all three gaits? How about riders dropping their reins and picking them up, lengthening and shortening them as necessary? Why do I want to see that? Not because I want to see anyone riding that way (even though I do) but because I want to see how the horse reacts to the rider’s hand. Or as they say in dressagespeak, to the contact.
It doesn’t just have to be your hand (or contact), either. There’s nothing better than seeing a horse under different riders. So while I see the rider(s) doing more, I get to learn more about the horse, how it’s been trained, and how it reacts.
While you’re being creative, don’t forget to be creative with your geometry. Show me a serpentine. A volte. A figure eight. Even a short diagonal. Just don’t go around and around and around the rail (or around and around and around a 20 meter circle) and bore me to tears. I don’t ride that way, none of my students ride that way, and I certainly don’t want a horse that’s trained that way, at any age.
If your horse can lengthen or collect, I want to see it. Show me half-steps if you have them. Show me all the transitions your horse knows and more than one of each. If you perform the Schaukel (or swing) with your horse and it’s good, you’ve probably got me.
Have anything else you’re proud of? Go ahead and waste bandwidth and throw it in.
Free lunging, liberty work and any work in hand. Cavaletti, jumping, crossing water. Doing tricks. Galloping. Going up and down hills, schooling in a field, going through an obstacle course. Or just being complacent while someone opens an umbrella or waves a flag or while a small, screaming child darts out of the bushes.
Show off good manners if they’re there. Trailer loading, standing for the farrier, getting shots from the vet, ignoring the dog, playing with the cat, being gentle with children, being groomed while eating, backing up when you enter the stall, coming to the gate when you call. You get the idea, if you’re still reading my rave.
In most cases, it takes a few seconds of footage, and no more than a minute or two, to show me the things I’d like to see in a sales video. But even if you can only do one or two of these things, please don’t follow the other ponies around the pole. Please, please, I beg of you, don’t show me two seconds of walk at the far end of the ring, followed by 15 minutes of trotting and a little bit of
careening cantering in both directions.
Elaine M.Lang said:
Ok, I take it you didn’t like the video I sent you! LOL. Well neither did I. Geez, could they have shown you some real cantering. I had to actually beg for his height (twice!)and price. They did show him being ridden on the road though…..you have to give them that. I am going to save this post to my files for future reference and then when I see a horse that I am seriously considering buying I am going to send it to the owner and ask them to send a full length feature film my way. Thanks!
Okay, now I really have to tell you about my dream last night: I ran into you in an airport while you were on your way back from Europe where you had just taken a test to be certified as an international riding instructor (does that even exist?). While you were there you happened to plunk down $100,000 on a young mare that had been nicely trained to first level.
My subconscious is strange.
I’ll have to remember to have Coriander do the schaukel in our next video.
Actually, the video you sent me did inspire today’s post, and it was better than most. At least we got to see some things we usually don’t see in videos. But this is a topic that has been on my mind for a long time.
Now that we have youtube and smartphones and everyone can make a video (and seems to), sales and promotional videos are everywhere. There’s a chance for people to edge out the competition with better trained horses and better videos to market them. Change comes slowly to the horse world, but I know one agent who reversed her “no video” policy two years ago, which she said she would never do.
The horse world (like the real estate world) has become significantly more transparent. With increased transparency comes increased competition. If horse sellers want an edge, especially in this economy, they have to think about what horse buyers and their agents want to see.
Sorry for the leapfrogging posts, but I want to respond to Shannon’s post above:
Shannon — I love your dream. Let’s hope it comes true! (There are international certifications for riding instructors but the system, at least in Germany, is very different from ours.)
I hope that you and Coriander will be able to Shaukel at some point in the future, but I have to caution you that there is a reason it was traditionally in the FEI Intermediare test. The horse must be fine tuned to the aids and the rein back must be confirmed (straight and superb) before you school it. We know you’re just not there yet. You will be.
Transitions are progressive. Reinback to immediate walk, immediate trot, immediate canter are great stepping stones on the way to Shaukel. So keep up the good work and look forward to showing off in the future!