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Sara Shier Photography: 5 Planning Tips For Your Horse + Rider Shoot From A Photographer's Perspective

Sara Shier Photography: 5 Planning Tips For Your Horse + Rider Shoot From A Photographer's Perspective

Sara Shier, from Sara Shier Photography, shares five tips for planning your horse and rider photoshoot!

The time has come! Its summer, your horse’s coat is glistening and you’ve been sticking to that workout routine that took you a few months to get used to. All your friends have photographed with a super awesome local equine photographer and now it’s your turn to get in front of the camera!

If you are among the many guys or gals that haven’t done a photoshoot with their equine partner, let’s chat horse person to horse person about some details you want to plan out! You are going to want to maximize every minute and make sure that you and your horse truly enjoy the experience (and the photos that will be captured!)

Get Ready Early… but not too early

Odds are your photographer gave you a specific start time for the best lighting possible and trust me it’s for good reason! Too many times girls will get to the barn 2 or 3 hours early to their session to clean up their horse. By the time your photographer arrives your horse is ready to go home and eat dinner. This leads to a very cranky pony during your session! I encourage my riders to try to ride like any other normal day in the morning and give a bath immediately after so your horse has some time to decompress, eat some food, and come out with their best model faces on after a quick touch up when you come back!

Make sure to let them eat

Most photographers are photographing first thing in the morning at sunrise or later in the evening at golden hour which of course is always during feeding times. If your photographer gives you a shoot time that you know is around a meal, make sure to let your trainer/ barn manager know that they may need an early dinner or a mid-afternoon snack.



I know not everyone is lucky enough to ride in the morning and come back for a few hours of photos later that day. We’re all busy these days! At the bare minimum make sure you work your horse… excessively the day of your session. I always joke “the horses you think will be the best are the worst, and the worst horses are the best for photos.” If you don’t have time to ride, try to find time to lunge them a good amount so they are nice and quiet for their session. It makes posing way easier and the entire experience less stressful for everyone involved!

Ask a trainer, groom, or friend who knows your horse to come along

Some of us have had our beloved partner for decades while others might be getting a new horse for the first time. Although I will always recommend you hire a photographer who knows horses, your photographer is not there to help handle your horse. If you envision a dream shoot and don’t think you and your horse are ready for it on your own, ask your trainer for their opinion or if they can tag along. Someone who knows your horse and how they’re reacting to a situation will be able to give suggestions or maybe a firm reminder who is boss ;)


Be Realistic

I know galloping bareback down the beach sounds like it would make for some amazing photos, but if you have never taken your horse to the beach or ridden bareback your photoshoot is not the time to give it a go! The same goes for possible shoot locations at the barn. If there are areas you think would make for great photos, be sure to hand walk your horse there frequently. Horses photograph better in situations they are comfortable in!


Above all else, don’t stress too much and have fun! Trust me, no photographer expects you to be a model or your horse to stand still the entire time. Odds are we’ve seen it all and know how to get the perfect shot EVERY. SINGLE. TIME! Your photographer is going to capture something you absolutely love!

Sara Shier Photography is your one stop shop for capturing your story and creating memories with your best friend, whether they have two legs or four! They are based out of Los Angeles and Huntington Beach California, but travel all across Southern California! Available for worldwide travel.