Full Tilt

Okay, can we take a mid-week pause to talk about something that’s been driving me absolutely batty lately?

Twitching Sheldon - Reaction GIFs

Yup, I want to rant. Specifically about when people deliberately tilt advertising photos to make a horse look more uphill (or it some cases, to just make it look balanced and level in general because it’s actually downhill or croup high).

To be fair, this particular thing has always driven me crazy, but I dunno if people have been doing it more and more often, or if I’m just noticing it more. Or maybe I’m just looking at more horse ads this year because what else does one do in 2020 with this extra time online? I’ve been seeing it EVERYWHERE. Sale ads on facebook, auction listings for foals, stallion ads, you name it. This isn’t a new phenomenon by any means, I used to make a game out of going through the COTH stallion editions (back when those were a thing that was really coveted every year) and tilting the magazine to level some of the stallions, but my god. It’s everywhere.

I didn’t want to throw any rando internet people under the bus so I tilted some of my own photos as examples of what I mean.

the first time Henry has ever not been downhill


Sometimes it’s purely accidental, and I get that. Unless you’re using a tripod or are very careful/deliberate, humans tend to not take perfectly level photos. And some riding spaces are not perfectly level. But those instances tend to just be slightly unlevel, not massively so, and also… it’s just not that hard to level them. Especially when there’s a clear guide in the background like an arena fence, or if the horse is standing on a flat surface like a road. For the love of all that is holy, level the feet.

I spend a lot of time leveling Foal Friday photos, and my own photos, probably because I’m hyper-sensitive to this. When I actually sat here and thought about it, I came up with two reasons why:

  1. It seems disingenuous. A little bit of wonkiness here and there in the photos… ok sure. I can write that off as accidental. But if I’m seeing photo after photo at all kinds of crazy angles where the only thing they have in common is making the horse look uphill, it makes me wonder what else that seller/owner isn’t being 100% honest about.
  2. It makes me think that they think I’m stupid. Like… I have eyeballs. I can clearly see that the photo isn’t level. I guess they’re hoping that I’m just gonna look at the horse’s topline and not notice that the front and back feet aren’t anywhere near the same plane? It’s brazen and obvious, assuming or hoping that the person looking at the photo won’t notice.

Head Tilt GIFs | Tenor
me, looking at online ad photos

At least that’s why I’m so deliberate with those Foal Friday photos. No those aren’t ads by any means, and yes all of this years foals are already spoken for anyway, but I’m aware that the farm is still a business and I don’t ever want anyone thinking that the mares or foals are being misrepresented online in any way, even in a very casual setting.

I think what really set me off lately was a couple of online foal auctions where almost every single photo had been tilted to varying degrees. I get it, foals can be butt-high a lot, but a) still not a good excuse to try to cover it up b) when your arena surface or background fence is tilted at damn near 40 degrees, it just looks insane. I’m not even exaggerating, there was one online sporthorse foal auction in Europe in particular where only 3 out of 24 photos had not been tilted at least 20 degrees. It was enough to give you vertigo. And then hot on the heels of that I saw several successive posts on a stallion group with a major tilt to them too. It’s become a second hobby of mine to screenshot the photo and level it to see what it is they’re trying to hide (just like when I see conformation photos of stallions where there’s always grass covering his feet – makes me go hmmm…).

I especially don’t understand it when we live in the age of online videos. Like why the heck did you bother tilting all your photos when I can go play a video that shows the real story? GAH. My favorite is when I see a screenshot that has been majorly tilted, and then see the exact spot on the video where the screenshot came from and it’s perfectly level. Makes me chuckle. Just level your damn advertising photos people! Or at least don’t deliberately tilt them at crazy angles. That’s all I ask.

Does anyone else notice this stuff? Does it drive you nuts too, or is it just me?

12 thoughts on “Full Tilt

  1. Ooooh the stallion feet thing makes me booonkers. It’s like they want me to believe that he happened to stand in four exactly hoof sized holes all at the same time. I want to believe that his feet just haven’t been trimmed recently and they don’t want to show them (which…really? You can’t take a rasp to his feet ahead of the pricey photo shoot? Is he that bad to trim?) but I immediately jump to, “oooh what kind of genetically passed on feet defects that my expensive foal will be sure to inherit are they trying to hide?” Show me the feet!


  2. You have absolutely latched on to one of my ongoing gripes. For all the reasons you listed. Drives me absolutely bonkers. Used to be seen mainly in Saddlebred and Tennessee Walker show photos but now it’s everywhere.


  3. I’m pretty sure all my photos are crooked. But not to cover anything up (obviously, my horses aren’t for sale), I just think my tripod’s level is actually off… Or maybe I’m a little sideways myself.
    But yeah, that’s SUPER irritating in sales ads. It will be very obvious when you go to see the horse in person and/or get it home!


  4. Not sure that I’ve noticed tilted photos (although now it will be something I look out for), but I’ve definitely seen a lot of confo photos where the horse is standing on a slope to make it look like they’re uphill. Sometimes it’s super obvious, and sometimes it’s very well hidden, but it drives me nuts!


    1. Ugh, yes why? I’m all excited to see the trot or canter and suddenly the video is slow motion. I take that as a red flag now that the trot or canter is probably sup par and we need to slow down to a crawl to see any suspension 😀


  5. I think there are two reasons so many people are doing this –
    1) We now have easy-to-use photo editing available to virtually everyone. They use the editor to tilt the horse, and still present it in what looks like a rectangular photo.
    2) Everyone else is doing it. (Same reason they are standing up on their horse’s backs.)

    Agree it makes no sense. Suppose someone believes the photos and comes out to look at the horse in person … gets out of the car, takes one look and knows this horse is not made the way they thought they saw in the photos? I never understand if the seller has thought this through.

    Does it work to sell horses? Wouldn’t prospective buyers realize the photo isn’t level? And/or, enough people are buying horses based on photos, without looking in person … I dunno, could that be what the sellers are hoping for?


  6. along with this, the insane amount of height inflation. like, you do not have a stable full of 16.3 horses that all look different heights standing next to each other. the horse is 16hh. its fine.


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