Monday, December 15, 2014

A Very Long Photo Essay: Five Years at Camelot Auction

-Sarah Andrew
Reach Out

"There'll never be another Camelot again."
A New Jersey livestock auction was the furthest thing from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis' mind when she said those words, but it doesn't make the quote any less true. Five years ago, I photographed the horses at Camelot Auction in Cranbury, NJ for the first time. Over photographed 4,500 equines (including my rough estimate of over 400 ponies, 400 Paints and pintos, 375 Quarter Horses, 300 Thoroughbreds, 220 gaited horses, 200 donkeys, 160 miniature horses, 150 draft horses, 140 Appaloosas, 120 Haflingers, 100 Standardbreds, 100 Arabians, 80 mules, 50 warmbloods, and hundreds with no breed announced) later, I'm paying my last visit to Camelot, camera in hand. Auction owners Frank and Monica Carper will hold their final livestock sale on Wednesday, December 17, and an era will end. The property will be leased and the horse sale will continue under another name.

Although the horse networking effort now known as Camelot Horse Weekly officially began in November, 2009, reaching out and helping horses at risk of shipping to slaughter is not a new concept. What was unique about Camelot Horse Weekly was the 83,000-strong horse lovers in the network, the reach that the effort had, the number of horses it helped, and the fact that it was all organized by unpaid volunteers.

Camelot Auction: Hip 893

As the volunteer effort expanded, my role in the network evolved. Every Thursday, I visited the sales barn and photographed the horses who were unsold at the previous night's auction. Initially, my mom kept track of the list as we went through the barn, and I photographed the horses loose in the pens. After a few months, friends accompanied me in the pens and held the horses for the photos. If you've ever photographed horses, you know how precise things need to be to get just the right angle and just the right pose. My friend Rachel has a great talent for posing horses in photos, and once we started bringing the horses outside, the photos took on a new dimension. Chronic back pain forced me to reduce the amount of time that I spent doing photo work, and Ida and Mark Howell generously helped with the majority of Thursday photos in the past year or so.

At the end of every week's photo session, I made a habit of taking "just one last photo." The photo was sometimes a horse with a striking appearance, sometimes it was a sunbeam hitting a strand of mane in just the right light, sometimes it was a weanling in the pony pen who was too friendly to be ignored. These photos were always my favorites, and I shared them at the end of the night after photos of all of the available horses were posted online.

The popularity of these photos inspired the Horses and Hope Calendar Project, which raised well over $100,000 to help horses in need, and funded medical and feed grants through the work of One Horse at a Time, Inc (Related note: thank you for your inquiries about the Horses and Hope calendar. Unfortunately, we were not able to publish a 2015 calendar, but we hope to be back next year with a 2016 version.).

Photography is a wonderful thing. It can bring your mind back to a memory with incredible detail. When I look back at my "one last photo" collection over the past five years, I feel warm horse breath on the top of my head while I crouch down for a photo. I smell the alfalfa hay. I feel the wooly winter coat of a Shetland pony. I hear nickers of recognition and snorts of concern. And this is what I see:

Camelot Auction

Available horses at Camelot Auction this week

Camelot Cuties

Looking for a home...

Waiting in Apparent Silence

Camelot Auction Hip # 472

Hip # 990 and 991

Camelot Auction Hip #333 and Hip #334

Camelot Auction Hip #334

Camelot Auction Hip #326 and 324

Camelot Auction Hip #333

Camelot Auction Hip # 410

Camelot Auction Hip # 410

Camelot Auction: 27 Horses (and Donkeys) Available

Camelot Auction tonight

Herd Dynamics

Camelot Auction, week of March 10

All horses found homes!

14 horses available at Camelot Auction

This Week's Available Camelot Auction Horses

All of this week's horses are SOLD

The Queen of Camelot

Announcing... Guinevere!

Hip # 588

Camelot Auction, week of 4/14/10

Hip #47- SOLD

Circle of Mares

Jefferson Airplane- SOLD

This Week's Camelot Auction Horses

Airs Above the Ground

Droopy-lipped Gentlemen

The Chicken and the Hay Rack

This Week's Available Camelot Horses

Camelot Auction, week of 7/14/10

Hip #681, 678, 690

Camelot Auction: Week of July 21, 2010

Hip #751- SOLD

Horse, meet Cow...

Camelot Auction: Week of August 4, 2010

This week's Camelot Auction horses

This week's Camelot Auction horses

This week's Camelot Auction horses

This week's available Camelot Auction horses...

Camelot Kitten

Camelot Auction: Eight Months Later...

This week's available Camelot Auction horses- ALL HORSES ARE SOLD!

Dinner Time at Camelot Auction

Sharing Lunch

This week's available horses at Camelot Auction

Looking for a Home

This week's horses at Camelot Auction

Camelot Auction


Quite possibly the cutest creature on the planet...

This week's available horses at Camelot Auction

This week's available horses at Camelot Auction


Itchy Teeth

This Week's Available Camelot Auction Horses

Hip #423

Freckles, spots, dapples

This Week's Available Horses at Camelot Auction

Camelot Auction on the news!

Hip #690, 693, 692

Thanksgiving at Camelot, by Penny Austin

Making Friends

Thanksgiving at Camelot, by Penny Austin

This week's available Camelot Auction horses

Three Bays

This week's available horses at Camelot Auction

This week's available horses

This week's available horses

This week's available horses

This week's available horses

This week's available horses

This Week's Available Horses at Camelot Auction

This week's available Camelot Auction horses

Camelot Auction

Camelot Auction

18 horses available at Camelot Auction this week

18 horses available at Camelot Auction this week

Winter Whiskers

The Mane: a study in texture

Blonde, Brunette, Redhead



Lean on Me

Love Bite

Two Heads are Better than One



Another late night editing photos!

It's 2:45am- find a soft spot to rest your head...

Snuggle up with a buddy...

Bedded Down at Camelot Auction

Sleeping Beauties

Watching Over You

Camelot Auction

Friendly youngsters at Camelot Auction

The Little Ginger Colored Dog shares the Camelot List

May the luck o' the Irish be with you...

The Guardian

Rosa, Camelot Auction mascot


At Rest

Rosa and a friend

Come Hither

Yoga Filly

Between the Bars

Hip #515- getting to know you

Hip #512- getting to know you

This one reminds me of the scene in The Black Stallion when Alec leaves sugar cubes on the ledge for him to eat...

(add your captions, please!)

Tough Crowd...

Pony Dreams...

Happy to be heading to Frog Pond Farm Draft Horse Rescue!



"All right Mrs. Andrew, I'm ready for my close-up..."

It's been a long day...


I thought I heard a peppermint...

Hey, buddy, you have a little piece of alfalfa in your teeth...

Things always look better in the morning

Happy Mother's Day!

Rosa, official caretaker for wayward kittens

Wayward Kitten

Behind Blue Eyes

Linger on... your pale blue eyes

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind...

Cat Fishing

My Future


Black on Black

"I'm going to Frog Pond Farm Draft Horse Rescue? You don't say!"


Very Important Draft Board Meeting

"Patience is the art of hoping." Luc de Clapier

Bright Eyes






Golden Girls

The Dog Days of Summer

I just kept telling him blonde jokes and he laughed and laughed...

Haflinger Hugs

Ears and Crest

Ready for bed


Nighttime at the auction

Creature Comforts

Creature Comforts

One, Two, Three...

Tail Swish

Real Men Wear Pink


My name is Iggy



Do you hear what I hear?

Seeing spots before my eyes

Sophia, barn kitty at Camelot

Between the Bars


Rosa and Sophia


The Listening Mare

All Together Now

“I'll lean on you and you lean on me and we'll be okay” -Dave Matthews Band

THE fog comes on little cat feet...

Grey Day

A Blaze in the Dark

Trojan Horse

Friendly Face

Hip #810

"The sincere friends of this world are as ship lights in the stormiest of nights." Giotto di Bondone


All Creatures Great and Small

Hip #378

A Blaze in the Dark


"The horse knows when you know and knows when you don't know."-- Ray Hunt

Thanksgiving Dinner

I get by with a little help from my friends

Golden Slumbers

The Listening Mares

The Listening Mare

Girl Talk


All is Calm, All is Bright

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse...


Time for Bed

Sweet Dreams


"The best portions of a good man's life, His little, nameless, unremembered acts, Of kindness and love." -- William Wordsworth

Festus and Eeyore


The Easter Bunny wasn't available, so they hired me...

I'm Listening...

"The photographer said to 'relax and be yourself'... Is this what she meant?"

Tall, Dark, and Handsome. In search of a "stable" relationship...

Official Camelot Kitty Greeting Committee

Sleeping Giant

Watching and Waiting

The Saddlebreds


Out of the Darkness, Into the Light

Please call Camelot Auction at 609 448 5225 for more information about the kittens at the barn who are looking for homes.

Please call Camelot Auction at 609 448 5225 for more information about the kittens at the barn who are looking for homes.

Please call Camelot Auction at 609 448 5225 for more information about the kittens at the barn who are looking for homes.

The old "yawn and prowl" move...

It must be exhausting being this cute...

The Greys

"Enough of these photos, let's play! Tag, you're it."

Peek a Boo

Three Bay Mares

Sophia and Ruby

"The spirit of the Arab is like the wind; Try as you might, you cannot capture it, but, if one can be still enough, it will enter your heart and capture your soul." -Unknown

“Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal. Difficult standards for people to live up to.”—Alfred A. Montapert

"Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides." -Junichiro Tanizaki

Kind of Blue


Three Portraits at Camelot Auction

The Faces of Camelot

Phantom of the Opera

My little helpers

Lots and Lots and Lots of Spots

I've Spotted You

What's black and white and cute all over?




Thanksgiving Day

I'm a sucker for a great blaze...

Sunset at Camelot

Have yourself a merry little Christmas... let your heart be light... from now on, our troubles will be out of sight...

Afternoon grooming time with the jennies

Tin and Yang

Sophia the Cat greets her new friend, Hip #445


Chilly Morning

Me & My Shadow

Curious Neighbors

Matched Pair


♥ smooch ♥ Somebody loves you- Happy Valentine's Day.

Be My Valentine

Her Eyes are a Blue Million Miles

Have you ever wondered what the CHW volunteers meant when they said a horse was "helpful" in their descriptions? THIS is what they meant!

A best friend is like a four leaf clover... Hard to find and lucky to have.

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks. May your heart be as light as a song. May each day bring you bright, happy hours that stay with you all the year long.


"Hi-yo, Silver! Away!"

Showing off for the camera

Up, up, and away!


Two Jennies

"For through his mane and tail the high wind sings, Fanning the hairs, who wave like feather'd wings." -William Shakespeare, "Venus and Adonis"


Grey Day.
Below is a letter from Frank and Monica Carper of Camelot Auction:

"Dear Ladies and Gents,

If someone had told me five years ago that horse rescues and tons of regular folks would step up and help find (and be) homes for horses that weren’t getting sold, or were being sold for slaughter, doubtful would have been my thought. Words after the first six months or so? Shocked, speechless and amazed are a good summation of what we thought would surely be a short-lived endeavor, boy were we wrong.

It started innocently enough with some networking and a few pictures from Lisa Post. Then a board on Alex Brown Racing (Friends of Barbaro) that also sent out to other groups about the horses that were landing in the #10 pen. If I remember correctly, November of 2009 was the first time that the pen was cleared. A landmark for sure and a testament to the ladies who checked horses, took notes and pictures in crowded pens so horses got a chance.

Sarah Andrew, equine photographer, called and asked if she could come and take pictures. The next few years are history, with beautiful ‘glamor pics’ and a few totally awesome calendars that helped to support the mission of One Horse At A Time with their gelding fund. Because of Sarah’s generosity with her time and talent, countless horses found a new life. When Sarah injured her back (she’s ok now), Ida and Mark Howell graciously stepped in to continue in Sarah’s footsteps. Also along the way several new rescues were started, and some established ones got new energy and focus. To have watched these rescues grow and find their ‘spot’ is simply amazing. The lives they saved, and the public education that was generated is enormous. To have been a part of that... fabulous, and humbling for sure.

To say that there was a huge learning curve when it came to working with the rescues would be an understatement, but it was worth it. A complete shift of thought process. To remember the beginning of the Camelot Horse Weekly page on Facebook, wow, just wow. The major excitement when there was 5,000 likes!! Now there are how many, over 83,000 as of this writing!! To know that because of that page and the ladies who started it - what were unwanted horses (and a few kittens and bunnies) have gone on to caring homes in almost every state including Hawaii!! Canada, England and Bermuda too!!

To have our "little ginger dog" Rosa become the poster child for the 'all clear', and to have had Penny Austin write stories about her and her exploits, warms every corner of our hearts. Frank and I started Camelot Auction on August 1, 1994, and here we are twenty years later saying goodbye with our last sale on December 17, 2014. It would take a novel to write about all the incredible people and horses that we’ve met over the years, and I’m not sure if that would even cover it. The changes in the industry and the world itself, from the first home computer and the infancy of the internet, who thought then that computers would become such an integral part of our lives?

After all this rambling on, it’s still hard to say what I came to say, which is farewell. I’m all choked up and stalling about the inevitable. I know that we can’t personally shake each hand, and kiss each cheek, and hug every person we’ve had the great pleasure to encounter, but know that we’d like to for sure! One of the big smiles of every day is looking at the Camelot New Beginnings page on Facebook and seeing the horses happy and cared for. That makes the craziness, tears, joy and angst all worthwhile.

Thank you especially to all the CHW Ladies for more than words can say.

Thank you to all the rescues, words are inadequate once again.

Thank you all for caring, and opening your hearts for these horses, most times from only a picture.

Thanks for creating a new path where there was none, and leaving markers for others to follow.

Thanks for the love, and the hate, a powerful combination for forging change.

Thanks for showing an old horse trader that yup, these horses are wanted.

Thanks for being the greatness that the world, and these animals needed.

Thanks for your kindness, your determination, and for your decency.

Thanks for the memories, we'll never forget them, or you.

~Monica, Frank and everyone at Camelot"