Friday, September 9, 2016

Photo Perfection: Pro Edition

I am relatively public about my equine life and I get lots of feedback from people I've never met on the internet. Most of it is positive, some of it is weird, and some of it is super shitty. But I'm the one that chose to be public.
identity concealed to protect innocent parties
If you follow Courage Has Opinions on instagram, you've probably recognized fellow bloggers and their horses on there. Those shots were all sent to me to become memes and are used with the direct permission of the featured riders of the horses. (And if you want to be featured, definitely send along a fail. It keeps me pretty entertained).
Courtesy of Confessions of a Dressage Barbie
Those riders have something in common: they're not professionals. They don't have a special image to maintain. They aren't selling their skills to the equine public. There are certainly the rare pros who are ok with fail pictures, but most of those specialize in green horses with green moments and their market understands that green things happen. (Not all. Most.)

But that's just it: I CAN feature fail photos because I don't have anything riding on this. Pun somewhat intended. I don't get paid more or less or gain or lose clients because of anything to do with horses, but that is 100% the case with a professional. They are their business and the images of them that circulate the internet can definitely haunt them.

As a blogger, I try to be very upfront with the equine professionals I've worked with--my blog is about me and my horse. Period. I don't snitch on clients, I don't share gossip, and I most certainly don't run professionals through the mud without very, very, VERY good reason (seriously two years later that post is still getting comments). Now that Courage is in training with a professional (omg!), there are some different factors at play.
me in the irons
I have trusted Courage's training to my trainer and the work she is doing is not up for internet dissection. Period. I'm not quite sure how I'm going to handle this on the blog--I've very happy with the progress he's making. I'm very confident in my trainer's abilities and I love her way with horses.

But she didn't sign up to get attacked by the clown wagon and I DO NOT want there to be an assumption that if you ride a blogger's horse, you go on the internet. Her agreement is with me and Courage and that's all.
clown wagon represent!
So as I decide how to process and share (or not) this next section of our relationship, help me out. What are you standards for sharing pictures/media  of a professional on your horse? On their horse? What is their assumption of privacy? How do you chose to represent those in the equine industry on your personal blog or social media?

41 comments:

  1. I've shared some things. But I didn't think about it from this perspective. I'm going to give it more thought in the future.

    I try not to make it super easy to identify the trainers, but I'm sure if someone put effort into it they would figure it out.

    One of my trainers had a video of me on her page and it got a snarky comment. I think my trainer was more upset than I was. So it can go both ways.

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    1. Ha! I haven't had that happen. I sort of share a lot of photos though so it would be rare for someone to share something I hadn't already posted.

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  2. if i share a lesson or clinic vid, i take the sound off. and i dont share videos of my trainer riding.

    as you said, they do not sign up for the clown wagon. the agreement is with me and them. and the horse ;)

    this is a great post tho, and should be shared far n' wide.

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  3. The fact that you think about these things shows a lot of respect for your trainers and I'm sure they appreciate that.

    It is a tough subject and I'm not sure the best way to treat every situation, but my guideline is that if I'm riding with a local instructor who I know personally, I will only include an initial for their name and not post photos or easily identifying details. However, if they are a clinician who travels and advertises their services publically than I feel they are fair game to name and review. If the clinic isn't my jive I word it that so and so didn't work for me at that time, not that they are a terrible person/trainer/etc. If I do like the clinic, I feel it may give the clinician more business and so naming them isn't a disservice. Also, blog readers don't care about the names of local instructors they will never encounter, but I have greatly appreciated honest clinic reviews that I've found online when trying to decide whether or not to sign up for a clinic with someone.

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    1. But some blog readers are local and they do care. This is a weird issue for me--neither of my last two barns have had a website or is easily searchable. Also, I tend to think that it's not worth anyone's time to internet stalk me all that much. Basically, I post a lot of pony pictures.

      I went through a phase where I did link to trainers who had websites that I rode with, but then I realized that usually gave a physical location and time to find me IRL, which I'm not super ok with. There's also the issue of what happens if things stop working with a particular trainer--of course I would never post the details of such, but it raises questions and could throw shade on someone in my community, which I'm not ok with.

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    2. I agree, clinicians are fair game AF

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  4. I shared the process and pics freely as Pong & I went through years of lessons & trainer rides, but I didn't experience the haters the way you have so I totally get why you'd be cautious...it was a mostly positive journey as it related to his progress and performance marred by soundness probs I discussed without issue because I knew early on the likelihood of him ever being for sale was slim to zero!

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    1. The sale angle is something I don't really think about, but it's totally valid as well. It's hard to advertise a horse as X when you have a bunch of scary looking fails or negative talk about them floating around online. I did consider that when I was struggling with Courage, but now he's here to stay, so whatever.

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  5. I don't use my trainer's name in a way that shows up on a Google search. Her online presence is her business and I don't touch that. I do show pictures of my trainer on my horse but they are 1) flattering and 2) not searchable by Google. I use full names on clinic reviews, but I also take care to be professional about how I write them and assume someone can read them to see whether or not they want to clinic with that person.

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    1. I definitely do refer to clinician reviews when I'm researching someone because I'm very, very particular about who I ride with and who I spend time/money auditing. I only have one (particular) horse and time+money are limited resources.

      I agree though--part of a clinician's job is to be public. I think there's a different expectation of privacy at home.

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  6. Cinna and I are going to be so famous ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚ haha.

    I've been blogging for a limited time and I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to handle things like this -- I attended a clinic earlier this year and identified the clinician because I really enjoyed working with her. For the handful of lessons I managed this summer, I didn't identify the instructor, although anyone local to me could probably figure it out without too much trouble. And since I can't afford full training right now, that's a moot point at the moment (but that's a bridge I may have to cross in the future?).

    I have no doubt that however you decide to handle it, it will be classy and appropriate๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. With moves like that, the fame is deserved!!

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    2. I'm seriously hoping that will be the first, last, and only time we experience moves quite like that.... a girl can dream anyway ๐Ÿ˜‰ I get the distinct impression she's going to be vastly different to train than Ruby, who was a cake walk ๐Ÿ˜‚ haha

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  7. I had my trainer do a training ride on Tucker once and did a pretty general summary without photos or video. Not enough info that she would be criticized but enough to explain what she did. If you just want to fill up the next month on the blog with pretty head shots of Courage though, I'll still look at them :)

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    1. I feel like the dressage subculture in general is more inclined to come out of the woodwork and feel qualified to pass judgement. Not sure whether that's because the risk of death is low and more people think they participate or because this sport forces you to be massively insecure and then catty to make up for it.

      FWIW, I have a theory that the higher the ratio of death, the less crazy/disconnected from reality you have to be. So like Grand Prix jumpers have to be pretty grounded, eventers know anything goes and people that show rabbits are complete lunatics.

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    2. This is probably the best and most accurate explanation of internet horsemanship that I have ever read :)

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  8. I really thought carefully about what I wrote when I had the trainer out. I wanted to share what was happening because so many people had been following my struggles.

    I started my posts with a disclaimer that what i was writing was my perceptions/understanding and I could be wrong. I also tried to give the reason and outcome of it. I was limited in the video posting because I didn't think that was fair. I also moderate my comments so anything negative I could delete.

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    1. Oh, I most definitely moderate comments. You piss me off, you get booted. Ain't nobody got time for that.

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  9. I feel the same way, and have only shared photos of others riding Miles with express permission.

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  10. I specifically asked my trainer if I could share her name and words on my blog, and then decided to at least retract her name. I'm not exactly shy about where I board or the group I show with, so it's not hard to figure it out. So for that reason I'm careful about what I post.

    If someone is riding their horse in public or at a show, it's fair game to post. Shows are public venues, after all. When they are riding at home, I only post flattering pictures OR utterly ridiculous pictures that can never be construed as criticism. I'm not trying to be mean to other people here, but I'm also not mincing any words.

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    1. I'm probably more militant about my trainer's online image than she is, haha. I find it super weird when I'm like "trainer said to do X" and then I get a volley of "well she's wrong because MY TRAINER SAID Y". Different people do different things on different horses at different times. That's ok.

      As for other people, I just try to leave them completely out of it unless they maintain an active online presence, are aware of the blog, and are ok with being on it. That list is like... 3 people? Maybe? Sound off, locals!

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  11. Ha, it's funny, my trainer loves to tell people that she feels way more pressure riding my horse than anyone else's because she knows it's going on the internet. If there were terrible pictures (there haven't been any so far, she's always fucking on point, it's so annoying) I wouldn't post them, or if there was something negative (also hasn't happened) I wouldn't air that either, just because I don't think it's fair. But I do understand why she feels more pressured... I do ALWAYS share photos and videos and details about things. Before I post anything about her I always think "if it was ME riding him, would I post that?" and if not, then no I don't post it. But she always looks freaking baller and she always rides him great, so thus far there has been no struggle. I just try to be mindful of the fact that other people DID NOT sign up for this public of a lifestyle, and if she ever asked me not to post something I would have no problem with that. On the other hand, I think she secretly enjoys it (just like the helmet cam, she gave me crap about having to wear that thing but she LOVES watching her videos! HA!).

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    1. I should add - I have never had to moderate comments, and it wasn't something I had even thought about until y'all mentioned it here. I'm not sure what I would do if the comments went south, I've never deleted any comments besides spam but I don't think I would want to leave up mean-spirited comments about people who weren't asking for opinions, either.

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    2. Ha yeah. I apparently attract the crazies. I don't review comments before they're posted because I like being surprised (and am a comment ho), but I do not hesitate to delete things I think are out of line. My favorite is to delete their content, but leave a snarky response. And also usually send hilarious screenshots to my friends. You would not believe the stuff I get sometimes.

      RE: your trainer feeling pressure, that is what I want to avoid. Courage is a tricky horse to ride well and I'm not a $$$ client, so I want to be as normal as possible so we don't get kicked out.

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  12. I will quietly share photos of other people riding besides myself, but I won't really draw attention to that person and I won't allow any negative commentary about them.

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  13. I won't share pictures or videos of BM riding Bobby. It's not that she's doing anything wrong or anything I disapprove of (otherwise she wouldn't be riding my horse. Obvi.), I just don't feel comfortable sharing snippets of an hour long ride for internet strangers to dissect at will.

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    1. Exactly. Also Bobby has some special snowflake attributes, so progress probably needs to be viewed in a more of a meta-big-picture sort of way rather than minute by minute.

      Just a guess. From someone who also has a special snowflake.

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  14. I basically just cherry pick and only share things that I think the pro or other rider in general would be ok with, and of course if they specifically ask for no pictures I respect that. I don't really have quite enough traffic to get some of the crazies, but I would probably just ask that negative comments be avoided, and just keep a close eye on comments to remove anything unwanted.

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    1. See, it also deeply annoys me when someone says "no negative comments". Dude. If you can't take the heat, get out of the fire. It makes me want to leave a negative comment just to prove I can. (But I don't. Because I'm an adult. Technically.)

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  15. I ask before I share information about anyone other than myself.

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  16. I don't name my personal trainers outright, but I will use names of clinicians because they get paid to be in the public spotlight. When I ride someone else's horse and write about it, I ask for permission from the owner first, and NEVER, EVER write unkind or unflattering things about the horse! I keep my personal problems off the blog, and as a rule do not ever air my dirty laundry on the internet. Most people that know me are pretty flattered/excited to be mentioned on the blog, and I am always, always neutral to very complimentary of others. If you want to hear the sordid details of a difficult interpersonal situation, you're gonna have to ask me in person.

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  17. first off.... i just spent way too much time scrolling your insta account, esp as someone without an account myself. or... maybe that's why i DONT have one lol.

    secondly, i have complete respect for your position to keep this part of C's training separate from the blogosphere, esp considering how frequently ppl like to tell you how you should do you etc.

    mostly tho idk how I feel about this topic. personally i don't believe that professionals should be shrouded from scrutiny. but i *do* believe that we amateurs have a right to privacy that easily extends to the decisions we make with professionals and the paths we choose to pursue with our horses.

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    1. You raise a fascinating point here--I definitely know professionals who are militant about what goes online about them but do they have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Certainly not in public.

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  18. I've shared some but, to be completely honest, I'm in an area that has very few (if any?) other bloggers and I don't openly post barn names, trainer names, etc so it would be tough to find them from a random internet search.

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  19. I love that Instagram account! I had two professionals start my young horses recently, I chose to abbreviate their names and not share images of them riding (at least I can't remember doing that).

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  20. I generally don't name names (use nicknames) and won't post pics of them without permission. I think I've posted 2 of Supertrainer and they were both hiding her face and from far away. But for the sake of blogging and her progress, yeah, I would keep that offline. Maybe afterwards, recap some things she did and show photos of him now, but yeah, nothing of her online unless she wants it. The internet is savage.

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  21. I try to avoid posting easily identifiable photos of other people. I figure that if you can figure out who they are, that means you are familiar with my tiny neck of the woods so you'd figure it out anyway.
    I think in this day and age everyone has to be cautious about how they behave because there is always someone with a camera phone watching... but I place more responsibility on social media users to respect over people's privacy. At the last clinic I went to I specifically asked if I could post certain photos of people on my instagram (because I thought they and their horses looked lovely). They vetoed some and approved others - they'd previously experienced ignorant, nasty comments from supposed 'friends' and didn't want to attract any more attention.

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  22. Great post- I feel a bit like an a-hole because I actually give the whole thing very little thought. It's a business and I generally don't continue to pay people when I'm not satisfied with the services :). My trainers have done such incredible things with Ellie that I want to share it! When I posted about moving barns, I tried to be mindful and gracious. And when I post pictures of friends riding it's because I think they're awesome and I'm excited for them!
    If I started getting negative comments or feedback I'd likely adjust my "policy" of sharing first names and (what I think are) flattering photos. Fortunately I haven't experienced that yet :). My trainers and friends are a big part of what I enjoy about my equestrian lifestyle and I think they have a place in my blog.

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  23. I totally get it! At first, I asked Sarah if I could blog about her riding Georgie. And then it has kinda morphed from there. I mean, I wouldn't ever say anything bad about anyone who rides my horse. I try to keep the blogs about me and Georgie. But I get it. It'd be kind of weird to be your trainer and see a blog about you. I think just letting her know about it helps. She can read it if she wants to

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