A Note about Sugarbush Draft Horses

I see it over and over again, and no matter how many times it's said, it's still wrong. "Sugarbush Drafts are just an Appaloosa Draft Cross". Uh.... no. The Sugarbush Draft Horse was a breed created many years ago in Ohio. While the initial cross was made using Percherons to Appaloosas, in the many generations following, the breed has been solidified into a consistent type. Saying these horses are "just" a draft cross makes as much sense as saying that AQHA horses are "just" a Thoroughbred cross, American Cream Drafts are "just" a dilute Belgian, or that Morgans are "just" a grade.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Need Opinions! (Picture Intense!)

About advertising.  No, there are no right or wrong answers here, I'd just love to get some opinions from y'all.

See, I've been looking at ads, and thinking "Are those people NUTS?" and then I see their horse sell.  So then I wonder, "is it just me?  Do I expect strange things?".  Add to all of this, that I am in the middle of making a few ads, and well.... I have a ton of silly little questions on "what do you like" types of things.

And no, I am not looking just for people who are horse shopping.  But seriously, don't we all check out the ads to see what's out there?  A little Dream Horse here, and a bit of Craig's List there, and every once in a while you see something that makes you say "WOW!" or "Ewwww".  I would like to have people think "wow" when they see my horses, and NOT eww.

So, first up.  Do you prefer pictures with humans in them, or with out?  I don't mean that random fat guy with no shirt type of humans, but rather the horse being handled.  Here are some examples:

While not all of the humans are perfect, they are interacting with the horse, and the photo gives a basic idea of what the horse can do.  I personally would only consider the top one ad worthy (bad angles, etc on the others) but well.... my point is, do you prefer that type of image, or something that just shows the horse like this:

These show the horse DOING something (standing tied with tack, ground tieing, cantering), but no distracting people are included.  What catches your eye more, and makes you want to click on the details of the ad?

Next up, what do you prefer as the main ad image?  Most online ads will let you have a "main" or teaser picture, and then once you click on the ad you get to see multiple pictures.  So which should I use? 

Head Shots?

 Conformation shots?

Working Shots?

Or Action Shots?

And lastly (is that a real word?) how much does back ground matter to you?  Of course junk in the back ground is BAD.  But in the above image of the filly, the back ground shows a spot where many fences meet up.  It's busy, but it's not garbage.  Here are a few examples of the types of background options I have.  I'd like to know your preference.  Keep in mind, while these are all conformation style shots (or failed attempts) I can do any of the above styles with one of these backgrounds.

Solid Building/Color

Natural with Photoshopped clean up (poo be gone!)

Non Distracting normal equipment


Barn Yard (Yeah it's over exposed, sorry)

 Pasture with other horses

 Grass and Black Fence

 Neighbor's Hay Field

Open Grass
Multiple Fencelines

I'd like to know if any of those back grounds turn you off, draw your focus, make you look at, or away from the horse.  You know....what do you love and hate?  And if there is anything I didn't ask about, but you've seen in other horse ads that makes you crazy, or makes you love it, please feel free to share!  I'm sure I'm not the only one that would like to know.  Trying to guess what others like is much easier said then done!


  1. My 2 cents: I don't think there are any cut & dry rules about which should be the opening shot, etc. Sometimes you just get a compelling shot that really shows the horse at its best, like that shot of Melody in the pasture. I've never seen another photo of her that is that flattering, and she's a lovely horse. I think you should show what you have, the best you have. If none of your pix do justice to the horse's head, don't post it. If you have a great photo that has distracting fences, so be it. You certainly don't want a photos that reflects badly on you as an owner, e.g., trash, dangerous implements, etc. Having staged photo shoots in addition to random candids helps ensure showing enough. I think the greater sin would be only showing one or two photos that leave the prospective buyer wondering what you aren't allowing them to see.

  2. First, I am a poor judge because any picture with a horse in it is good to me. I agree there should be few distractions in the back ground. If I were shopping, I would like a good picture of markings on both sides, confirmation, head and action shot. I am not sure about including the people, unless it is demonstrate the size of horse) because I want to imagine myself with the horse.

    The opening shot should be one that calls you in, tugs at your heart, makes you want thtat horse.

  3. These are good questions! And since I just spent the last few months pouring over Dream Horse and Craig's List, in search of my 3 horses, I thought maybe I could add some thoughts for you . . .
    However, I, like one of your other posters- just plain like ALL pics of horses! I now have my little herd, but I STILL get on Dreamhorse just to look at the pics!!
    But since you asked -
    and for whatever it's worth
    (maybe not-so-much)
    I am drawn to a photo that catches some of a horse's personality. Head shots can do this, when they're taken well and they really catch a horse's eye.
    Now that said: I also really liked all 3 of the last pics you posted. They just have a little extra something - somehow those 3 horses speak to me in those pics. And the background is not distracting, which is good. Through their beauty (middle & last photo) or personality (1st photo of the 3). I know that I would have clicked on each of those photos, on Dreamhorse, if the verbiage/price had fit what I was looking for.
    I am also drawn to rider-pictures. It shows me how the horse is being ridden - tight rein? English/western? I think there's a part of each picture-viewer that looks at rider-pics while envisioning themselves on that horse. So, to me, rider pics are important and I personally really like them. Honestly, even if they are not photographically perfect.

    Lastly- (yeah- I think that's a fine & dandy word! :-) I will share with you that I didn't buy any of my 3 off of Craig's List, though I checked it daily. I much preferred, I think, the professionalism of Dream Horse. I would humbly suggest (& you probably already know this) that you put your website on any Craig's List ad you do. There are just so many backyard breeders and the such, on CL - it's sad & can be scary, when thinking of adding to your family!
    Oh! I also wanted to tell you that INDEED- this is a good thing for you to think on, because I went way OVER-budget on one of my horses because I fell in love with her on Dreamhorse! Her ad had a wonderful head shot (caught her gentle eye/personality) as the lead photo and then had pics of her being ridden also.

    Hope this helped. You have beautiful horses!!

  4. I like working/riding pictures - one of the reasons I went to look at Pie was there was a picture of him dragging a roped calf with an interested, alert expression on his face - pretty impressive for a 4yo. I also like conformation shots - if properly taken - from the side, from the front and from the back. I like pictures that show the horse's personality - that's where the people shots can be useful. I don't care about the background or setting as long as it isn't distracting.

    That said, it depends on what the horse is trained to do, and what price level - at higher price levels video is good, and if the horse is a cutting horse, jumper or dressage horse, pictures/videos of that are needed. For a baby or a youngster, videos of the horse moving at liberty are helpful - it gives some idea of the potential.

  5. \i like conformation shts , and horses doing what they are trined to o. people an backgrounds are fine as lonfg as the don't dtract from the horse . Take your very best shot ,whatever it is that sshows your horse at his/her most eyecathchng for the teaser

  6. No, I'm with you on the "no hard and fast rules"... but I just am interested in hearing the opinions of people who are... well... not me. =)

    I've found that listening to what others think and perceive is usually the best way to learn how to be better. Hearing about what a lot of people think... is even better!

    And thanks for sharing yours =)

  7. I often use Craig's List as a "testing ground" for new ads. My main ads are through Google Ad Words (the ones I am working on making now) as well as Dream Horse and Equine Now.

    Oddly though, I find that the google ads being run ON Dream Horse and Equine Now is even better for me then listing with those sites (You can tell Google Ads where to run, and of course I pick as many horse sales sites as I can. So while others get thumbnails, I get a 300 x 500 for half the price!).

    But love what you said about catching the personality. THAT is what I was hoping to hear... those types of comments.

  8. Hmmm... And to think, I've always tried to do video for ANY horse I'm selling. Granted, I think NO video is better then BAD video, and a gawky yearling/two year old just sometimes needs to have pictures only. I hate the thought of showing every one the horse at a time in its life when it is NOT at it's highest potential, and then everything after is compared to how bad it is as a baby.

    I could just be a paranoid mommy though.

  9. Here's something I've always wondered. When I take conformation shots, I get all 4 sides (front back left right). I only POST the best of those on my ads though. When someone inquires about the horse, I send them a full set of confo shots, as well as a candid shot (Like the first picture of me bridling the horse). Is it better to get the same pictures of a horse when you inquire, or to get similar but different pictures, as well as something completely new to what you've seen so far?

  10. Like Kate, I too like to see the horse doing the job it's advertised to do, as well as good conformation shots. I HATE pictures that cut off the legs, the horse is not standing on level ground, etc.

    My only opinion about back ground is when doing confirmation shots. I prefer a plain - non distracting back ground for these. All others no preference.

  11. Well, I work in marketing, so I'm over opinionated on these things. Here is where I'm at:

    Main shot should be a head shot that conveys the horse's personality. No people in that shot. I think we like to put ourselves next to a horse in our imagination.

    One or two action shots with a rider.

    One confirmation shot.

    None of the backgrounds you had were problematic, although the building was probably best. Next favorite was grass with black fence.

    No other horses in the shot. Comparisons will be immediate. Sometimes my eye will be drawn to a horse that isn't for sale instead of the main one.

    Videos are great, we recently sold a horse by showing how calm it was for everything from saddling to bathing.

  12. Head shots are great. Also, I like to see conformation shots without tack because a saddle can hide conformation faults. I don't care to see people in the shots because often times they are not horse people and usually detract from the photo. However, a nice riding shot can be a good follow up if the buyer wants to see more. I love the 'open grass' shot, btw.