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The Most Important Thing To Do With Your Horse Before A Photoshoot

The Most Important Thing To Do With Your Horse Before A Photoshoot

Written by Sara Shier of Sara Shier Photography originally posted on the SSP Blog.



Yes, this is THE BEST THING you can do for yourself, your photographer and your horse before you start getting your horse ready for your photography session. Think about how your horse behaves after a really long relaxing ride. They’re quiet, calm, and ready for dinner. We want this type of horse showing up to our session. Having a relaxed horse allows us to capture the poses that make you two look your best vs the poses your horse allows us to do. How your horse behaves during your session will have an effect on the photos we are capturing.

Now I know there are two different responses going on in your head right now:

1. Oh, my horse is THE most bombproof broke 20-year-old ranch horse that has been exposed to EVERYTHING with a small infant child on his back! He’ll be just fine!

This is very possible and trust me I applaud amazing ranch horses. I’ll share the story of Dreamy: Dreamy is a 26-year-old hunter pony who has competed all over the US at the national level. Taking 7 and 8-year-old girls through the ranks and teaching many young kids how to go over their first fence. Being the old man who is half asleep all the time living his days on 5 acres of pasture, we decided to use Dreamy for our first big styled shoot.

Photographer/ trainer over here had to ride Dreamy bareback for 45 minutes of the two-hour shoot to try to get his energy out that had been unseen for the last 10 years. He screamed for the entire shoot and tried to bolt from his mom multiple times. Sometimes we just NEVER know what horse is going to show up on a day of the shoot, so set yourself up for success by making sure they’ll be that angle of a horse vs this!


2. Great, now I’m terrified to even DO a photo shoot! My horse is going to be a train wreck because he’s always a crazy pants even after I ride him!

Don’t worry I’ll still get the shots, pinky promise! This is the reason you hired a professional equine photographer right (as in they specialize in Equine Photography because we KNOW horses)?! 90% of our job as an equine photographer is reading the signs that a horse is giving us. Maybe they need a change of location, a buddy to bring along, or we have to trick your horse into position! My job is to see these things ahead of time so we can make appropriate decisions to get the images you want!

My best advice is to set yourself up for success!

  • Take your horse multiple times to locations we might be shooting at. Get them familiar with the area while on the ground and under saddle so it seems like any other day
  • Practice, practice, practice. If you want galloping bareback photos in a field, make sure you have galloped bareback in a field at least 50 times before I show up.
  • Ride them really hard the night before, the morning of your shoot, and lunge them…. a lot before you start getting them ready. Get them tired and ready for a nap! They’ll probably want to cuddle with you more than usual!
  • Bring a friend or family member along that knows your horse! They might be able to see what your horse needs long before I do since this is the first time I’m meeting your horse! They might be that extra stern hand to keep your horse in position or can run to grab your horse’s best friend!
  • Don’t let this scare you! Sometimes we have to roll with the punches and say it is what it is! I promise the end result is still going to be something you 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! She is based out of Los Angeles and Huntington Beach California, and is available for worldwide travel. Learn more about Sara here!