A well-trained horse is a photographer's dream, and as I always say: the key to capturing stunning equine images lies in preparation. Before a photo shoot with your horse, it's essential to ensure they are comfortable and cooperative. In this blog post, I'll share my best tips with you to help you train your horse for a successful photo shoot.
Now which of those tips are useful for you is depending very much you and your horse. If you have a well trained horse, maybe are going regularly to competitions and shows or do a lot of trick training, you might not need so much preparation. If you have a very young horse or a horse that is not that far in training yet, it might be a good help for you to try some of those tips in preparation of the photo shoot.
Trust is key
Building trust and a strong bond is one of the most crucial aspects of training your horse for a photo shoot. Horses are so sensitive and need to feel safe and secure to perform well in front of the camera. Here is how you can give your equine partner more security during a shoot:
Spend Quality Time Together
Dedicate time to bonding with your horse. Grooming, hand grazing, or simply sitting with them in their stall can help strengthen your connection. Why not have a coffee together? Of course, only you - your horse might be better off with an apple.
Use positive reinforcement techniques, such as treats and praise, to reward desired behaviors. When your horse associates the photo shoot environment with positive experiences, they'll be more willing to cooperate.
Be consistent in your interactions with your horse. Maintain a routine and ensure your horse understands your cues and expectations.
Train to success
Having a horse with good ground manners is essential for a safe and successful photo shoot. Your horse should respond to your cues and be well-behaved while being led or posed. Practicing for a photo shoot is actually great training!
Leading and Halting
Practice leading your horse calmly and stopping on command. Use voice cues along with physical cues to ensure your horse understands. Especially the part with standing still is a great help for the shoot! There are extra points for standing still on the grass.
Stand and Pose
Teach your horse to stand still and pose. Reward them for maintaining a specific position. This we will use for the classic portrait shots.
Back Up and Move Forward
Your horse should also be able to back up and move forward when asked. These movements can be handy for adjusting their position during the shoot. This way we can position them perfectly in the right light.
Move front and hind
Teaching your horse quarter in or out and shoulder in or out in standing is perfect preparation for those portrait shots.
Change of location
Photo shoots can take place in various locations and environments. To prepare your horse for different scenarios, expose them to a range of settings and situations.
Change of Scenery
Take your horse on outings to different locations, such as arenas, fields, or trails. Allow them to become accustomed to new surroundings. When you have already a special location in mind, its a great preparation to visit it before!
Props and Obstacles
If your photo shoot involves props or obstacles, introduce these elements in advance. You want to wear special clothes or even a dress? Maybe your horse needs some time to adjust.
Practice with a Mock Photographer
Before the actual photo shoot, enlist the help of a friend or family member to act as the photographer. This will give your horse the opportunity to get used to the presence of someone taking photos. And not just your horse: Also you will get to train a bit and try out some poses.
Training your horse for a photo shoot requires time, patience, and a gentle approach. By building trust, desensitizing them to camera equipment, refining their ground manners, exposing them to different environments, and practicing with a mock photographer, you'll set the stage for a successful and enjoyable equine photoshoot. With the right preparation, you and your horse can shine in front of the camera and capture moments to cherish for a lifetime.
But no worries: If your horse is maybe young, you didn't have the possibility to train before or it simply has a bad day. I am bringing not just my camera, but also a good amount of horsemanship to the shoot and we will get beautiful pictures of your horse!