I am a graduate student. Broke. Living primarily off of my boyfriends free housing and affording my horse by selling others, both my own, as well as those owned by thoroughbred breeding farms in Lexington, KY. I have a “one in, one out policy,” no working students, no secretary; a “mom and pop shop” of horse sales if you will. I tend to vent my frustrations with selling horses to my friends, my family, and my fellow horse sellers, but today I was assaulted with the most extreme of bad horse shoppers. Some may call it unprofessional, some may call it ignorant, others may even call it slander, but I simply call it RUDE. Regardless of the scenario, I was quick to be told that “that’s a teenager for ya!” or “those teenagers and their facebook.” And at first I agreed, this issue was simply an immature teenager not understanding how social media can come back to haunt you, but than I had a reality check. I know a LOT of GREAT teenagers in this business, some of which I would say handle themselves with more professionalism than many pro’s that I ride against. I came home and said this to my manfriend, or super significant boyfriend (SSBF from here on out) and he said something that resonated with me: nature vs. nurture. These teenagers that I adore and respect will become adults that I would love to do business with, and these teenagers who are running amuck with no consequences will become the adults that are still unaware of their actions, either be it on social media or not. Here is a Tale of Two Horses (and Two Teenagers) Story.
Today was…interesting to say the least. I was working the Keeneland January sales, parading around short yearlings with the idea that with each step I took, I was one more step towards affording another event this summer. I am living nobodies dream, except for maybe my own. Months ago I had been contacted by a young woman in a plea to try my sales horse Mason – but she was one of probably 50 who have. Nothing about her contact was special, she was local, she wanted a young horse with potential, and her budget was approximately his price. She asked if I was negotiable, I said I was. She asked if I would do payments, I told her that I would have to speak with my co-owner. Weeks would go by before I would hear back from her, and then I would receive another question. But nothing was ever a pressing matter, she never scheduled to see him, and I quite honestly didn’t think she was that serious. It was no sweat off of my back, as he is a SUPER fun horse to be around, I have quite a bit of interest in him, and I was having fun riding him.
Sweet Baby Mason at his first event. Copyright XPress Photo
But then this past week, she finally asked to schedule a time and we agreed on an evening next week. Nothing less, nothing more.
Until today. I was contacted by a fellow “horse seller” who wanted to give me a heads up that this young lady was posting pictures of my Sweet Baby Mason telling the World Wide Web that he had quite a few conformation flaws, and asking THE WORLD if these would effect his career as an eventer. She took my picture, placed it under her name, and ripped him apart.
The picture that she posted.
I quickly contacted her and asked her to please not use my photographs on facebook, as well as letting her know that it was unprofessional that she had posted these negative things about my horse, moreso because she was going off of a photo and hadn’t even seen him in person, EVEN MORESO because she was scheduled to come TRY my horse to potentially BUY him. I attempted to take the high road, explaining to her how this was unprofessional and *possibly* illegal. But as they say, you can’t beat a dead horse, and you can’t fix stupid, and she simply told me that she was doing nothing wrong, flipped her hair (in my mind), and continued on her way. Like everyone had told me, she was being the STEREOTYPICAL TEENAGER. I was quick to write it off as nothing more than that: age and immaturity. Until I remembered the last horse I sold, and thus began the Tale of Two Horses (and Two Teenagers).
In August of this year, I sold a horse that gave me in the out to my new horse in, Sweet Baby Mason. His name was Preston. He was also a 2010 bay thoroughbred, he was also stunning, and he was also going to be a fabulous event horse (I know, I know, I have a type. So shoot me). I had only had him for 3 weeks when I received an email asking for my phone number; a prospective buyer wanted to contact me about him. I gave them my number, and immediately received a phone call. The lady on the other line was professional, she was polite, she asked all of the right questions, and she ended her conversation by asking if she could come try him the following week. We agreed on a time, and I waited impatiently to see if Preston had found his forever person.
Big Boy Preston
I waited anxiously for that Tuesday to arrive, and when it did, I headed to the minivan ready to shake the hand of this lady named Skylar. Certain she would be in her 20’s or 30’s, I was confused when I saw a lady get out, and then a tall, thin, teenager with a big smile and a high ponytail. The teenager walked up to me and said “Carleigh? I’m Skylar!” and I was astonished at her firm handshake. We quickly went over Preston, tacked him up, and I gave her a leg up, letting her get to know the gentle giant.
Skylar trying Preston
As she hacked around, her mother explained to me that she and Skylar’s trainer had decided that if Skylar were going to get a new horse, she needed to have the maturity to look for, and inspect, her future mount. They monitored her every move, but she made every phone call, typed every email, and scheduled all appointments…and at the age of 14. I was astonished. This was not the teenager I had experienced. This was also not a trainer micro-managing every last detail of the horse shopping endeavour, but in exchange for slightly awkward learning curves and some interesting dramatic pauses on the phone, this young lady was learning how to become an adult: one event horse trial at a time.
Skylar and Preston fell in love from the first stride, and after flying through the vetting, she and her mother were quick to swoop him up. I have now gotten to watch them begin their journey together, making it through their first beginner novice together with smiles on their faces.
Skylar is the reason I still have faith in this upcoming class of riders. For every bad egg, like the one I experienced today, there is a Skylar. And more importantly a Treva (her mother) and a Robyn (her trainer) guiding her into adulthood. I have experienced quite a few of these other teenagers as well, the Hayden’s, the Emma’s, the Anna Kate’s, and the Sloane’s. They know who they are, their parents know who they are, their trainers know who they are, and more importantly the industry knows who they are. I hope they can mold their friends and fellow riders into the amazing young women that they are, and maybe, just maybe, the young ladies who aren’t quite coming to terms with professionalism, maturity, and class, will find themselves on a Team Challenge Team, a Pony Club Rally Team, or even Young Rider’s with this clan, and they will be changed as well. The Tale of Two Horse (and Two Teenagers) needs to be less divided, and become one, and I know just the girls to lead the way.