Info for you

October 17, 2021

The ultimate plan to get your horse to stand still for photographs

… and what we do when it inevitably doesn’t go to plan 🙂

If you’re weighing up getting a photo-session with your horse but your mind keeps running back to questions like:

“How am I going to get my horse to stand still for a photoshoot?”

“My horse follows me when I take pictures…”

“My horse doesn’t ground tie…”

Then never fear! Because these aren’t deal breakers.

Here’s why:

a) You’re comparing apples to… carrots.

When you’re taking photos of your horse or asking them to stand still at a mounting block, it’s not like in a photo session. You’re usually on your own, or they know it’s work-time and they’re agitated because of that.

It’s so much easier in your session! 

Not only will you either be there to handle the horse (e.g. fine art session), or be right there in the picture with the horse (horse & rider session), BUT I’ll also have my trusty assistant! My assistants are also equestrians so they’ll help to get the best out of your horse.

b) You’re comparing your behind the scenes to someone’s highlight reel.

“‘My horse won’t stand still like that” is true – no horse does! They all fidget.

Often the fidgety ones give gorgeous expressions, often the horses who stand still make me bust out all of the moves to get the ears up. No matter which end of the scale your horse falls on, I’ve worked with them. 

c) Because I’m thorough A.F.

We go through a detailed consultation so I can learn about you and your horse in detail, and give you the best possible experience.

Because you’ve got this super list to go off!

Here are my top tips to help get your horse to be a living statue for the split second needed to take a beautiful photo.

  1. Work them well

For most horses, it’s best to work them more than usual the day of your session. If you’re staying on property and your horse is fairly quiet, you may get away with light or no work. But if you’re taking your horse off property or to a different area of their property, a harder workout that morning will work in your favour. During the session, my assistant I will be jumping around, flapping objects and more to get those ears up. On a horse who hasn’t been worked, that can make them a bit spicy! The perfect line of curious facial expressions, but not fidgeting, is usually found when the horse has been worked well that day. 

  1. Make sure they’re fed

Our sessions happen during late evening or especially during golden hour. This might conflict with your horse’s dinner time, so try to feed them earlier that day, especially forage so they feel full and happy. 

  1. Practice

If you want gorgeous images of yourself cantering your horse bareback up a creek in a long flowing dress, the first time you practice shouldn’t be in the session. 

If riding or sitting on your horse bareback, practice before our session. 

If going off property, take your horse to that location. 

If we’re doing black backgrounds, take your horse to the stables, shed, or carport where the session will take place. 

If you intend to lunge a horse using my naked halter, it’s a great idea to practice lunging off a halter if you usually attach your lunge line to the bit.

Practice leading your horse. Practice having them stand. Practice practice practice.

Your horse doesn’t need to stand still for a long time – my camera shutter takes photos at 1 two-thousandth of a second! BUT there does need to be that split second there to capture. Practice will help you with that! 

  1. Consider bringing a friend

If your horse likes the company of others, bringing a friend along with them can help to keep them settled. They can stand just out of the frame to keep your horse happy. When planning your sessions, we’ll discuss if this is the right move for your horse. 

  1. Plan with your horse in mind

Think – do you need to go off property, to a new location? Your own home or agistment might be just fine! 

If you aren’t sure about your location, click here to see some examples. 

If your horse is young or has an anxious personality, we’ll chat about your options. We may just need to capture different moments, work in a different order, or maybe select a different outfit. 

Involve your coach! They may be able to help you out preparing, or even be willing to come along to the session with some encouragement (aka wine and nibbles!)… Or maybe they’d be willing to come with you or supervise you practicing taking your horse to a new place, or trying that dress on bareback!

  1. Don’t stress about what I’m thinking!

It can be really stressful wondering what that person behind the camera is thinking when your horse isn’t responding. You might feel nervous to discipline your horse in front of a stranger. Or maybe you feel mortified that your horse chose now to pretend like they’ve never been trained! 

Firstly, I want you to know that it’s NORMAL. Horses aren’t robots. 

Secondly, this is one of many reasons why I talk often with my clients before the session, so we aren’t just strangers. 

And thirdly, my role is to celebrate your relationship – not to judge you, your horse or your training. Shit happens, especially around horses! Your horse misbehaving isn’t even the end of the world, and fidgeting is totally uncommon! 

  1. Arrive early 

If you’re traveling off-property, aim to get there early, get off your float and let the horse have a look around, or a graze if they’re food oriented. 

  1. Helping hands

When you try to take photos of your horse, you’re usually on your own, so you often get a worse perception of how still they can be in photos.

I usually bring an assistant who can physically be there to help steady your horse. They might be just out of frame and ready to jump in if your horse goes to move in a black background session. In a horse & rider session, they might even be holding the horse so you can have your hands free for cuddles.

Because of the extra hands, you can be right next to your horse the whole time. If your horse is usually pretty relaxed when you’re next to them, then that’s most likely how they’ll be during our session.

Even though I bring my own helping hands, I recommend also inviting your own friends who put YOU at ease. Every equestrian knows how much harder it is to settle your horse if you’re worried! If you’re relaxed, it will help your horse to relax.

  1. And worst comes to worst… 

There’s a bit of photoshop love. 

I’ve had horses who only stand still if their owner is between them and the weirdo holding the camera! 

That’s okay – I just work with your horse and work smartly to make sure I can edit you out if needed. That is all included in your collection. 

My biggest priority is that you and your horse have a great day – leave the editing work up to me.

And sometimes, even though they’re fidgeting, you love the picture anyway. Maybe because it adds something dynamic, like this shot of Sky mid-way through stepping forward to get a treat. 

Or because they’re so dang cute you want the picture anyway. Like this one of Arthur and I. 

No matter what happens in your equine photoshoot, rest assured that with my years of horse experience, I can manage. And I pinky promise you’ll love the pictures, even if a hoof gets the occasional air time!

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