My TOP tip to prepare for your equestrian portraits

Helpful Tips

June 12, 2021

back to blog

For many experienced equestrians, longeing on show day is a no-brainer, right?

In fact, it’s such a no-brainer that it’s written in gold letters on page 14 of The Unofficial Guide to Horse Showing, right after “Thou shalt not let just anybody shape your hat” and before “Never forget the safety pins.”

Look, I get it.

We’ve all been there: it’s show day, you’ve run out of time to longe and you’ve decided to risk it all rather than scratch.

Then you swing one leg over the gleaming seat of your saddle, gather up your reins…

…and feel that invisible electric current of coiled, unspent energy from your horse traveling straight up your spine into your brain—and you know it’s all over.


It happens. That’s why we’ve got a rule about it.


Now think about this…

Just like you’d never show up to an important show without longeing your horse first, you should never show up to your portrait session without first making sure your horse’s mind, body and energy levels are on point for the task at hand.


After all, just like for a show, you’ve invested a lot of time, money and emotions into scheduling a portrait session for you and your horse—why wouldn’t you want to make sure it’s the best day ever?


As your photographer, a big part of my job is making sure you and your horse feel and look your absolute best for photos. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I can Photoshop a lot of things…

Stray hairs? Goodbye!

Unsightly shirt creases? Adios!

Uncooperative ears? Presto!

but I can’t Photoshop an antsy, anxious horse into standing still. It simply doesn’t work! And that’s where you come in.

“Always, always, always longe your horse before a photo session” is rule No. 1 in the Unofficial Guide to Horse and Rider Portrait Session Prep, and with good reason. In this blog, I’m sharing my top five tips for why every horse needs a good longeing session – or a nice, sweaty ride – before every session. Are you ready? Let’s go!



RFC18 Kristyn and RC-39.JPG


1.     Even lazy horses need to be longed. That’s right, even Cooper the Comfy Couchmonster who barely breaks into a jog when he’s heading in from the pasture at dinner time needs to be longed. That’s because photo shoots aren’t part of Cooper’s normal routine, and therefore he’s not going to be functioning at his normal energy level. Think about it: my assistant, my camera and me are all new experiences for your horse, and even the sleepiest horse perks up when he sees or smells something new and unfamiliar. 

2.     Spirited, green or young horses will stand better. If you’re interested in a black background session or want to have a lot of posed photos with your horse standing still, you’ll need to longe your horse to help ensure they can stand quietly for short periods. During a session, I love to capture photos of you and your horse in motion, but there are also a ton of poses that only work if the horse is willing to stand quietly. 

3.     Can’t longe the day of? Go for a long, sweaty ride the night before! Sunrise sessions are some of my favorites, but that means you and your horse have to be bright-eyed, beautiful and dressed to impress awfully early. If you can’t fit a longeing session in on the morning of your shoot, make plans to go for a long, sweaty ride the night before – it’ll have much the same effect!





4.     Longeing is GREAT bonding time. Longeing your horse isn’t all about building a sweat; it’s also a great time to renew your bond with your horse and get her mind on you, rather than on that interesting new person who shows up with a new piece of equipment. Use your pre-session longeing time to ensure your horse’s mind and attention are focused on you. Your horse will be much more likely to listen to you when you’re cueing her during our photo session, and she’ll be less distracted by me if she’s feeling extra close with her best friend.  

5.     You’ll feel and look a lot better if your horse is cooperative. Dealing with a naughty, antsy horse is going to stress you out, wear you down and tense you up – and none of that will translate well in your photos, trust me! We’ve all felt that frustration when our horse isn’t putting their best hoof forward, and it shows in our faces and our bodies. So, longe your horse for your sake, too, and then you can relax and enjoy your session all the more!

Feeling excited about your next photo session? Awesome! Check out my details page to learn more about the kinds of sessions I offer and email me with your questions today. 





share this post: