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The Picture Of Tori And Me

Posted by vwkoch, in horse stories 12 November 2008 · 604 views

Horse Stories
The picture of Tori and me was taken in a photo studio in a mall, and I thought I would tell the story of the experience, since it allows me to brag about my "idiot horse." First of all, you have to understand that Tori is afraid of almost everything. After 12 years (I got her when she was three), I've gotten her to where most of her shies are only flinches, but she still seems to shy at least once every five minutes or so. The idea of taking a horse like that into a shopping mall (back when she was still REALLY idiotic) would probably seem like idiocy on MY part to most people, but I've always loved challenges. So, here's the story:

It all started when I saw an ad for a photo contest put on by a photo studio in a mall. After you got your pet's pictures made, they would post them in their window, and whichever picture got the most votes would win. You had to pay to vote, and the proceeds went to charity. One of the sample pictures in the ad was of a cow, so I started thinking about getting some pictures of my pet horse. I called the studio to see how they handled large animals. Would they come out to the stable? Would they do it outside the mall somewhere? No, I was told --- I would have to bring my horse into the studio. Too bad, I thought, since that wasn't feasible.

However, the challenge of taking a horse (especially MY horse) into a mall photo studio kept percolating in my mind, so I finally went to the mall to check things out, just to see what would be involved. There was a double set of self-closing, people-sized glass doors to go through to get into the mall, which was two stories high and had tile flooring. The photo studio was about 30 yards in, next to a food court with tables and chairs. The studio was about 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep, but a counter ran across about 15 feet of the front, and the back was divided in half, with storage on the left and an enclosed section on the right. The enclosed part was entered through a people-sized door covered by a curtain. The subject posed against the back wall, and the camera equipment was to the right as you entered. Hmmm --- difficult, maybe, but not impossible.

Fully charged now, I made my appointment for first thing on a weekday morning (about 9:30, I think), so there'd be fewer people around (hopefully), and found a friend who agreed to accompany me as poop-scooper and door-holder. (Did I mention that Tori once pooped about once every minute for about 10 or 15 minutes because she was nervous about a white horse being ridden around a field about a quarter mile away?) My friend and I met at the mall; I handed her the all-important shovel; and we headed for the doors --- not really holding our breaths.

Getting through the doors went well, and we began our echoing clip-clop (even without any horseshoes) through the mall. A young boy came up, threw his arm over Tori's back, and walked along beside her, but I didn't stop him, since Tori seemed completely relaxed --- walking along with her head down as if we were just going to the round pen for exercise. When I turned toward the photo studio, though, she pulled back in alarm. (The little boy's mother had wisely called him away before that point.) I didn't try to stop Tori from backing up because I thought she'd just pull back harder if I tried to restrain her, and there was a food court table (with chairs) directly behind her. Backing into that would have precipitated disaster, but she stopped with about five feet to spare. When I gingerly encouraged her to come forward, she did, but there was an advertising sign blocking our way into the shop. We might have been able to maneuver around it, but running into it would also have triggered disaster, so I waited for my friend to move it out of the way. In the meantime, Tori deposited her one and only calling card onto the floor just outside the studio.

Once the sign was moved, Tori went somewhat reluctantly around the counter into the back of the studio, and then we waited for my friend to hold the door curtain out of the way so we could get into the room where the pictures were made. I knew there was a (probably very expensive) camera on a tripod directly on the other side of that curtain, and I wasn't sure how Tori would react if the curtain brushed her as we entered the room. With me standing in front of the camera, though, she got through the door and made the sharp left hand turn as if it were nothing.

So, now we're in the room, and the back wall is covered with a white tarp which also covers about three feet of the floor right in front of the wall. The edge of the tarp is held down by a long 2x4 board. The photographer wants Tori to stand against the wall on top of the tarp. Um, yeah....

Tori is scared of white things (remember the white horse in the field?), and most horses are afraid to step on tarps. In this case, she'd have to side pass onto the tarp while stepping over the board. Did I mention she's very clumsy? (She spent most of her first three years in a 12x12 pen.) It never hurts to ask, though, and in fact, Tori sidepassed into place like a pro.

Okay, now we're ready for the pictures. Turns out the photographer had recently dealt with a llama that charged and tried to bite her, so she shot all our pictures before I ever had a chance to pose. I don't think they had any idea of how big a horse was until I arrived with Tori, and the photographer was afraid of being charged by my poor horse. She obviously had no idea that a scared horse could do more damage than a mean llama (or a mean horse) any day of the week. Luckily, I'd prepared Tori for flashbulbs by taking my camera to the stable a few days earlier, so when the flash started going off, all she did was flinch. In the picture, it looks as if I'm wiping her nose, but actually, the piece of cloth was the remains of a towel she liked to chew. (She's very mouthy.) If you look closely, you can see that she's actually biting the cloth. I'd planned on a picture of us playing tug-of-war, but we never got that far. The picture-taking was over as soon as we got on the tarp, and it was obvious they wanted us gone ASAP. In deference to their terror, we left expeditiously, and Tori exited with the same aplomb with which she'd entered. I was so proud of her (and glad I had a witness)!

And that's the story of the day I took my horse to the mall....

HOW AWESOME IS THAT?! One thing that I've found with horses is that sometimes the more "out of their element" they are more likely to turn to us for guidance. I've experienced similar situations with my horse when I've thought he would for sure lose it.
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