Info for you

February 1, 2022

How to choose the tack for your horse’s photoshoot

What to wear (Horse’s Version) (10 minute version)

The first dilemma that everyone thinks of when booking a photo-session is what to wear. But what about what your horse will wear?

Read on to find out about your options, and the pros and cons of each!


I recommend using a halter if you have a nice, plain black halter – preferably leather. Leather is classy and timeless. 


Using a nylon halter can detract from your images, and if it’s in a strange colour, can clash with your outfit, your horse’s coat, or the background. Your halter becomes the centre of the story, not your horse or your connection to each other.


Some horses are more relaxed in their halters.

What if I don’t have a nice halter?

I have a nice leather lead I bring with me to all of my sessions, so if you only have the halter, that’s okay!

If you don’t have one, you can always ask a friend to borrow one for your session! Make sure you try it on and it fits. If it hangs too low over their nose, this can detract from your images. The odd scratch on your halter can be fixed in photoshop, but something completely oversized is beyond even my skills! 

If you don’t have a nice halter, I would suggest wearing a nice leather bridle. 


The options with your bridles are endless! From different colours, styles of nosebands, browbands… this is a choice of tack which leads to a squillion other choices!

So let’s break it down.

Colours & Material

Just like halters, I recommend a nice, simple leather bridle. By that, I mean avoid the brightly coloured synthetic racing bridles. (Western riders, your bling is safe!)


With browbands, less is more. Some jewels or pearls can look lovely, but a brightly multi-coloured browband can detract from your horse. These pieces can also date your images. My photographs are designed to be enjoyed in 30+ years from now, but trends in the show ring tend to change more often than that!



With snaffle bits, we will take the reins off for black background images, so make sure you have conditioned them so they come off easily. This also makes them easier to put back on when we go for your horse and rider session!

Make sure your snaffle is a good size for your horse’s mouth. So rings not too big, and your bar not too big to risk being pulled through.

Shank bits:

For bits with a shank (e.g. double bridles, pelhams, dutch gags, western bits), reins are left on. For the most part, this means you have less of a hold of your horse, as we need to set the reins up over their neck nicely. So it can be a big ask for the fidgety horse. If you’re not sure your horse is up to that, keep a snaffle bridle or a halter on hand, just in case.

Cons of bridles:

You can often end up with more chewing if they get a bit nervous from all of the crazy people doing strange things to get their ears up. This can make your horse’s jaw look odd in some images (or seeing the occasional tongue poke out!) and usually end up with more coloured saliva than you would without.

The bright side is that I always have a RANGE of horse towels and baby wipes with me, ready to wipe away some of that goop. And a little bit of slobber can always be edited away in photoshop.

Some horses are actually more relaxed and less fidgety when swapping from the bridle to a halter or naked halter.

And finally, like with the browbands, trends can creep in to bridles. What is in style now might not be in 30 years, and so can date your memories.

Pros of bridles:

As you can guess, you have the best control over your horse in a bridle, especially during horse and rider sessions.

They’re also the easiest, stress-free tack choice for most people. Most people have a nice bridle versus a leather halter on hand. You know how your horse reacts in a bridle versus something like the naked halter.

And just like with leather halters, my contouring process that I use on all of my images will make your tack shine and look phenomenal.

How to prepare your bridle:

Practice. If you’ve bought a new bridle for the session, try it on well in advance!

Condition your bridle. One thing that stands out like a sore thumb in photographs is straps out of their keepers. First thing I do when I show up is tuck in those straps, but sometimes the leather won’t budge. If your keepers won’t tuck in because your bridle is too rigid, the images won’t look as good! 

Punch in more holes before the session. This gives us room to straighten things, tuck in keepers, and loosen or tighten things if necessary mid-session. While you might like to have some straps looser when riding, such as nosebands, this can give them room to go skewiff during the session. It’s best to have them taut enough that they won’t move around, while loose enough that the horse is comfortable. 

Final notes:

You don’t have to have your horse wear their usual bridle for the session! I’m not a stock rider at all, but chose to borrow a barcoo bridle from a friend for our session. I loved how much more of Arthur’s face you could see without the noseband. 

You can also choose to swap your type of bridle for your different looks. While I used the barcoo bridle for a more relaxed look, I preferred Arthur in his double bridle when wearing a dress.

Naked Halter (“tackless”)

The Naked Halter is a thin halter which is easy to edit off in Photoshop, and give the appearance of your horse being tackless. These halters are made from paracord (literally used by parachuters!) so you can be confident they’ll hold the weight of your horse.

We will usually start your horse in their bridle or halter and then switch to the naked halter depending on how they will behave. Usually by the time we have reached this point, horses have already done the “big sigh” and relaxed. For most horses, this I recommend a 60 minute session to be able to use the naked halter. Some horses are born models and are ready to go in less time, but those are usually the exception, not the rule.

Pros and cons:

The pro of the naked halter is that it captures your horse’s essence best than any other tack choice (in my opinion, anyway). But it presents its own challenges.

For black background sessions, the naked halter can sometimes be easier than a regular halter or a bridle, because you can hold them more. You don’t have to worry about pulling the bit through one side of their mouth, because everything gets edited off anyway!

To use the naked halter in your horse & rider session, I have to pose you in a certain way. I’m not a fan of images where your hand is a fist, clearly holding something which has been edited out. So this means your hand is either holding the lead behind the horse’s face or neck where it can’t be seen, or a person holding the lead out of frame, or we literally let it dangle, if your horse is a gem. This obviously means that you have much less hold of them.

If you’d like to use the naked halter, remember that we’ll start in their usual tack first and then switch to the naked halter when your horse has truly relaxed. So make sure to always choose one of the above options too. I always bring it with me regardless, so if you aren’t sure, there’s always room to use it if your horse chills right out and surprises you!

Do you love images of horses in halters, bridles or tackless the most? Comment below!

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Seasonal mini sessions (sunflower, autumn, lavender, wattle, Christmas mini sessions)

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