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Camelot Auction: Eight Months Later

August 16, 2010

This Week's Camelot Auction Horses

An incredible thing is happening in New Jersey- a giant network of horse people is pooling resources and finding homes for hundreds of horses. This network has gotten the word out across the country, and has even crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Every Wednesday night, Camelot Auction runs its sale in Cranbury, NJ. Riding horses, livestock, and tack are all sold throughout the evening. The horses who are unsold and without a reserve price run the risk of being sold to the feedlot and being shipped to slaughter. In an effort to find homes for these horses, a network of equine rescue groups have created a system of cataloging, photographing, and disseminating information about these horses. The information is shared via Facebook, message boards, blogs, and word of mouth. Helping Hearts Equine Rescue began the organized effort in November 2009, but has been working with the auction to pull horses in need long before then.

Camelot Cuties

The success of the Camelot network has a lot to do with how the auction is run. The proprietors are very professional and helpful. Unlike most other auctions, they are willing to work with equine rescue groups. Many of the horses sold at the auction are riding horses, either for show or pleasure, and the folks at Camelot take good care of their stock while they are on their property. The excitement is on Wednesday nights, and the horses are grateful to rest on Thursdays. Some have traveled many miles across many states and through several auction rings before they get here. They get some good sleep, and they groom one another.

Circle of Mares

This week's Camelot Auction horses

The pens are clean and bedded with shavings, with ample room to walk around and lie down. Horses have access to hay and water at all times. All horses are sheltered from the heat and cold, and more importantly, the ventilation is excellent. In the summer, fans cool the horses. If a horse cannot be with other horses for health or behavioral reasons, the horse is stalled. Medical care is administered to horses who are ill.

Hip #181- SOLD

In January 2010, I began my work photographing horses at Camelot Auction. In February, I shared my initial experiences and observations (click here to read). As an independent volunteer, I go to Camelot every Thursday and photograph all horses who were unsold on auction night. I edit the photos and post them online in order for the horses to be networked until the Saturday afternoon deadline. Since November 2009, not a single horse in this networking effort has shipped to slaughter from Camelot.

Camelot Auction, week of 7/14/10

I’ve photographed many hundreds of horses; by my rough estimate, roughly 15% are Quarter Horses, 10% are Paints (or stock-horse-type Pintos) 7% are Thoroughbreds, and well over 30% are of unknown heritage. I’ve laid eyes on a few exotic breeds, over a dozen warmbloods, and many mules. I’ve seen miniature horses and 18-hand drafts; weanlings to horses pushing 30; colors from the pearliest cremello to the deepest ebony black; registered horses with a show record to unhandled youngsters.

Waiting in Apparent Silence

Hip #245 and 246- SOLD

Hip #681, 678, 690

Horse, meet Cow...

As an equine photographer, my Camelot work puts me through my paces. Breaking horsey photo rules is necessary due to the environment. I shoot with a 17-55mm lens and a flash, instead of my trusty 70-200mm and natural light. The exposure changes with every single shot. My ISO is cranked quite high. I don’t use the same angles that I do for my usual farm calls, since I only post two photos of each horse: a body photo and a headshot. These horses are not being held- they are loose. My images are honest- if a horse has a crooked leg, there is nobody standing him just-so to make it disappear into the photo. My lifetime of riding and working with horses comes into play as well; I am always mindful of my safety and the safety of the horses. The proprietors look out for me and tell me when I need to take extra care around an especially skittish horse.

Hip #318- SOLD

Available horses at Camelot Auction this week

The stories of the horses in the auction could fill a book, from a filly being born to the blue-blooded horses who have been returned to their grateful breeders to the high drama among the rescue groups. These horses have gotten some media coverage and I’ve traveled across the state to visit them after they have arrived at their new homes. There are still many unanswered questions about homeless horses, slaughter, euthanasia, ethics of rescue groups, shady Craigslist dealers, and equine overpopulation. It is helpful to consider all of these issues, and it is even more helpful to set a foot in the direction of change.

Announcing... Guinevere!

Looking for a Home

Enjoying a New Jersey vacation

Equine Ambssador

My work at Camelot has influenced my work as a professional photographer. The equine photography industry is comprised of many followers and just a few leaders. The dedication, energy, and heart that it takes to make this Camelot network thrive is fueled by innovative and caring individuals. If you are interested in making a difference, my challenge to you is to blaze your own path, share your unique and creative vision, and use your talents to help other horses in need.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Vickie permalink
    August 16, 2010 10:05 am

    And you have made a very big difference! Well done.

  2. Oregon Sunshine permalink
    August 16, 2010 11:08 am

    Sarah, I love that you still go and do this. I imagine that it can be heart breaking work. Do you feel that photographing at Camelot is making you a better photographer?

  3. Jennifer Parmerter permalink
    August 16, 2010 12:07 pm

    The faces of these horses speak volumes. They are so incredibly expressive. What incredible work is being done here, by you and by all those taking the effort to make a difference.

  4. August 16, 2010 2:12 pm

    What a great post! How wonderful that the auction and the rescue groups are working together. Thanks for sharing.

  5. August 16, 2010 2:12 pm

    And your photos are still beautiful in crappy light, less than ideal settings, or whatever. 🙂

  6. August 19, 2010 12:26 am

    You guys are doing a great job! Thank you. I’ve donated a ton and will continue to do so as finances permit.

  7. Donna Barry Foley permalink
    August 19, 2010 5:05 am

    Beautiful photos, you have capture the horses soles and my heart! I am going to call about a” left over”horse in this weeks Camelot auction 8/18/2010. I am going to be passing on your blog for all my friends to follow. Thank you for all your help.,In saving these horses, mules and hooved friends.

  8. Paula Wehde permalink
    August 20, 2010 6:46 am

    Your images are beautiful and they capture the dignity within these creatures. What a noble thing to do for all of these unwanted animals. I think HHER is doing a great job working with Camelot. I have ordered the credit card that will support their efforts.

  9. August 20, 2010 7:55 am

    Sarah, this is the first time I have been to your blog and reading this brought tears to my eyes. Your pictures do so much to help these horses. Thank you for everything that you do!

  10. August 20, 2010 11:18 am

    They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no truer words were spoken. As soon as you see these images the beauty is evident. I have 3 Camelot horses and they are all exemplary models of Equine spirit and grace. Sarah does a phenominal job showing the true essence of these horses.
    Thank you Sarah.
    Slan Abhaile (safe home) for each and every one of these horses to come!

  11. August 20, 2010 12:59 pm

    I am familiar with Sarah and Helping Hearts Equine Rescue from facebook and appreciate so much what they do. Sarah, your work is so touching and helpful in this situation. I especially like your last sentence that challenges all of us to use our gifts and abilities to make a difference!

  12. August 20, 2010 1:35 pm

    Sarah you are such an inspiration to others. Thanks for all you do.

  13. Amazigh Stud permalink
    August 20, 2010 2:11 pm

    Great article, I congratulate you once more for bringing this horse’s stories into light. Your photos are very good despite all issues…. even the worst looking horses appear as beauties in the way you capture their images. And THAT counts in a big extent for catching peoples eye ! 😀 Thanks partly to your photos, these animals are all going to new homes. The Camelot Auction has been a fantastic idea. I hope it continues for years

  14. Alicia permalink
    August 20, 2010 11:20 pm

    AMAZING photo’s as ALWAYS Sarah!!!!!!!!!! You have such a talent – so glad you use it to help horses in need. You are such a blessing to them! ❤

  15. August 22, 2010 7:56 pm

    Camelot NJ Horse Angels are the most amazing group of caring people making a huge difference!
    I love your work and am excited to have my students involved in your efforts…

  16. August 22, 2010 11:55 pm

    Sarah, Thanks for doing what you do! I’m sure that your photos have helped find MANY a horse a home. Your images capture so many emotions- you are so gifted! Again… thank you… not only from me… but from each and every horse who now has a home and got to keep his/her life and was spared “the trip.”

  17. Lin permalink
    August 23, 2010 9:04 am

    Sarah the contribution you make is stellar. Without your efforts this operation would not be successful. Horsepeople the world over are eternally grateful.

  18. Liz permalink
    August 23, 2010 1:29 pm

    Bravo to you Sarah, this post is an inspiration. I am looking to change paths in my career and life, and this gives me another reason to do so. Thank you.

  19. Karen permalink
    August 23, 2010 2:07 pm

    Very well written, nicely said, Sarah! I’ve always loved your photos, now I really like your written word as well. Thank you for all you do. You SHOULD do a book! God bless you.

  20. Renee permalink
    August 23, 2010 5:53 pm

    Beautiful, Sarah – well done…

  21. August 23, 2010 10:54 pm

    Sarah, b/c of you Number 181 was rescued by my friend and founder of CFS.
    This mini is the sweetest, most trusting little guy. I only went that day b/c of her determination to save this little guy. It’s been more than 2 months he’s been
    with us and he looks so beautiful and so happy. You would be please to see beautiful photos of how he looks today. I have never been to a place like Camelot, my heart was very heavy for many days. God Bless You and all those animals you have helped and God Bless Clare founder of CFS.

  22. August 23, 2010 11:47 pm

    You are a visionary in every sense… wonderfully written and the photographs tell a story all on their own

    “If you are interested in making a difference, my challenge to you is to blaze your own path, share your unique and creative vision, and use your talents to help other horses in need.”


  23. Deb permalink
    August 23, 2010 11:51 pm

    LOVE your photos!

    And you can bet that every horse that you photograph at Camelot… make a difference in their life.
    They can’t say thank you……but someone over us ALL knows…..

    And so for them….and for HIM……thank you for all the effort you make in changing “tomorrow” for our equine friends!

  24. Gloria English permalink
    August 27, 2010 2:07 pm

    Sarah – what a wonderful thing you are doing for the horses. Ran across your website via the link Gina Keesling at had provided. I will forward this to some of my friends with the Georgia Equine Rescue League to see if they have any photographers in their membership that could make a difference here in Georgia. GERL folks already do a lot to help the equine in GA; however, a great photo of an equine does make a big difference in the presentation to a prospective owner.

  25. September 9, 2010 12:26 pm

    What beautiful photos and what a lovely, thoughtful post Sarah. I love the work that you do over at Camelot, which I see all the time on the Helping Hearts site. You are really helping these horses in their time of need.

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