During the Quarter Horse Congress, I attended the first dozen or so. For the first few I stayed in down town Columbus at the YMCA - it was cheap. It was my plan to meet the cast members, make a living, take photos of great horses and occasionally sell a portrait commission. It was hard to get great photos at the Congress, with Ohio rain, cloudy weather, bad backgrounds with electric poles, old dark colored historic buildings, very little open areas. The light from AM to PM made backgrounds change from east to west. It was not easy. The one thing good about the Congress was that the great horses were there.
Grier Beam, a very successful trucking guy from North Carolina had bought Wallaby for a lot of money. Wallaby was by Croton Oil out of a Sugar Bars mare. Wallaby was being hauled by Kenny Bacchus and starting to stack up a wheel barrow load of Championship trophies. Kenny had just begin working for Mr. Beam and had never had such a good job. He was doing everything he could to please Mr. Beam.
Wallaby was born in 1964 and this must have been about 1968 or 9. Mr. Beam wanted the best for Wallaby. He wanted to advertise him a lot and wanted to get a good photo for a post card.
Kenny and I waited for the right light and things weren't working out. Finally we decided to take Wallaby off the Congress grounds, out the south gate and photograph him on a lawn near a large government red brick school building. Wallaby was a beautiful horse, but had seen everything, been everywhere and was near impossible to get him to put his ears up or show any poise. We did everything to get his ears up -- it was discouraging. Kenny had two or three helpers doing all kinds of crazy stuff nothing was working.
I don't like to photograph a horse with chain on an upper lip, jaw, under their chin or over the nose. I don't like any chain to show. I ask Kenny to switch the chain from the left side of the halter to the right so it would not show. As he unsnapped the halter lead, Wallaby bolted and sprinted full blast in an easterly direction toward a slum project area. He was going AAA right through the children's play ground, kids were screaming, running and basically doing their best to out-run Wallaby. I laid the camera stuff down and we all ran in the direction Wallaby was leading -- much slower, of course. He ran about a half mile, through some clothes lines, cars, tricycles, right down the pavement and sidewalks. I will say it was exciting. If you think Kenny was excited, so were the folks who lived there. Finally, Wallaby slid to a stop in the corner of a cul-de-sac and just froze there, out of breath. It was like he wanted someone to come and save him.
Kenny talked kindly to him, snapped the lead on and we walked back to the school lawn. In minutes the kids were playing like nothing had happened. When we got to the photo spot Wallaby had every vein bulging. He was on the "muscle." We took shots from every angle and this side view was used for the post cards. He was alert. He gave us abundant alert ear shots.
As we were finishing the shoot, shockingly, up walked Mr. Beam. As I remember him, he was about 5-11, maybe 60 years old, business man looking, and a nice fellow. He loved this horse. As he stood there looking at Wallaby we all knew what had taken place. Mr. Beam had no clue about the disaster that had happened. No one brought up the subject. He said, "Kenny, you are good. I have never seen the muscles and veins pop out on Wallaby like that. Whatever you did for the photos, to say the least, you are professional." Kenny smiled.
Author: Darol Dickinson