Your horse & rider portrait session is a special evening you’ll spend loving on your equine partner. And, of course, you want to make sure he’s having a good time, too!
Following are three ways you can help give your horse a great portrait experience:
1. Practice being alone in new places
Even if we’re photographing at your barn, sessions often take your horse away from his normal “zones.”
For example, you might want to use the gorgeous landscaping at the barn’s entryway as the backdrop for some images. If your horse only sees the gated entrance as he’s being driven past it in the trailer, he might not be immediately comfortable standing by it—the lone horse—for portraits.
Before your session, take your horse on a field trip! Hand walk him around the perimeter of your property, to scenic spots around your barn, and even into an empty pasture.
Do some quick groundwork drills or showmanship practice to keep him focused on you. You can also allow a moment of hand grazing to show him that’s OK, too. Ensure he minds his manners, but focus on making the “field trip” a good experience for him.
2. Manage his energy
Portrait day is a change to your horse’s routine, and very few horses I’ve met react to that change with less energy.
Burning off your horse’s excess energy before your session releases endorphins, tempers his anxiety, and—because he’ll be less fidgety—helps him be the good boy he tries to be for you.
Longeing your horse before your session is key to managing his energy (I even wrote a whole blog about its importance).
Scheduled sunrise portraits? A lengthy, sweaty workout the night before can help shorten your pre-dawn longing time.
3. Be understanding
It’s your horse’s first portrait session, too! Keeping yourself in a positive, patient mindset helps influence (and calm) his attitude.
Manners and managed energy are important, but remember that it’s OK if he isn’t statuesque the whole time.
Take deep breaths if you feel yourself getting frustrated…or, if you need a laugh, just ask me about all the times my own sassy gelding has acted up in our own portraits!
All clients receive a style and preparation guide with tips just like these (and more!) to ensure your session goes smoothly. When you’re ready to make memories with your horse, contact me to start planning!