Info for you

October 17, 2021

How to present your horse for your equine photoshoot or horse show

Your horse is already beautiful, but with a little TLC you can make them look drop dead gorgeous. Dust and marks show up in photographs, so the more you can do to reduce them, the better!

These presentation tips are designed for your photoshoot with your horse, but also translate well to your horse show or competition! 

Clipping

If you intend to clip (recommended for winter coats), a full body clip 1-2 weeks before the session is ideal. Be sure to run over areas in multiple directions to reduce any lines. If your horse changes colour when you clip, you can minimise the appearance of this by using slightly longer blades. If your horse has guard hairs (also called ‘cat hairs’), you can clip in the direction of the hair to simply remove those sticking out.   

If your horse has a summer coat, clipping markings a week before can help to remove stains and ensure they look beautifully white. You may also wish to clip ears and the horse’s “beard” for fine art sessions where hair will be more noticeable. 

A note on whiskers: if you want whiskers removed in your images, you need to trim these in advance. But please keep in mind that EA has recently banned whisker trimming, and many disciplines are going in this direction, so to future-proof your images, you may want to keep them in tact.

A bit long in the… hoof?

I’ve made this mistake myself when doing black background photographs of my horse. I took photos right as he was due and he looked a little bit like a duck to be honest! Not bad, just enough to annoy me. So try and think about your horse’s trimming schedule before our session. If they’re barefoot, a trim can also help alleviate the appearance of chips or mild cracks.

Get that sparkle

Make sure your horse is thoroughly bathed for your session. If it’s been a while since your horse’s last bath, you may need to give a bath a week out from the shoot to get off any built up dirt, and use rugs and tail bags to keep them clean for the next week- especially for greys! Then follow it up with a bath the morning of or night before (if the night before, use rugs to keep clean and give a thorough groom in the morning). Try using a stain remover (e.g. purple shampoo) on white markings or tails.

Pro tip: you can use coloured shampoo like chestnut, bay or black to bring out your horse’s coat colour. But use gloves! – Sincerely, your photographer who made this mistake the morning before my photo session. I looked like I’d done a bad home tan job, but it was really just chestnut shampoo!

Mane & Tail

Depending on your discipline, you may want to trim manes and tails for a neat look during the shoot. Unplaited looks best for most photoshoots, but plaited can look great for fine art shoots as it can accentuate the neck. 

I recommend trimming as far ahead of the session as possible, and remember – less is more! Hair takes a long time to grow back. If you’re going to trim the forelock it’s best to follow the shape of the forelock by trimming upwards rather than a straight cut. However, if you’re unsure about the forelock the best option is not to touch it. 

If you don’t want to pull the mane, there are some great products called ‘thinning scissors’ from various retailers. 

On the day of, wash your horse’s mane and tail. Condition and comb a de-tangler through the tail (starting from the bottom, holding the tail in a fist, only brushing a small area at a time and working your way upwards) to truly bulk it out – especially horses who are follically challenged!

If you want to plait or band your horse’s mane for their session, make sure you practice doing this first if you’re not confident in this.

Tack

A bridle or leather halter with leather lead is best. Brightly coloured or patterned halters can take away from the beauty of your horse, so try to avoid them (unless they are part of a ‘matchy matchy’ look you are showing off for a ridden session!). 

Before the shoot, be sure to give the gear a good clean. If you have purchased anything new for the shoot, try it on beforehand and make sure that the gear fits well.

Consider how your horse’s look will match your own. For a more formal shoot you may want to use a show bridle and plait up your horse’s mane. For a country themed shoot, you may want to leave it loose or use a western bridle.  You might want to literally do both!

Finishing touches

You can use chalk from your local saddlery to highlight your horse’s features. For example, you can use white chalk on markings or lightly rub some black chalk over dark spots, rug rubs or scars. Remember with dark chalk, less is more!

Please note: If you have used chalk, please use it sparingly, especially on the horse’s face. Please let me know so I can avoid putting you in positions where you might get chalk on your clothing. 

Do you have a top tip I’ve missed? Let me know!

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