The Secret to Selling Your Horse: Top Tips for Taking Amazing Photos

As hard as it is, you may find that like many other horse owners, at some point you are faced with the need to sell or re-home your horse and will need to go through the agony of finding the most suitable home.

When it comes time to start writing your ad, you want to include all the important information that buyers normally ask as well as a number of really good photos that show your horse at its best so that you attract the most suitable potential new owner (and save you wasting time answering the same questions time and time again).

Chestnut pony cantering on grass - equestrian photography

Make sure you include the following written information in your advert: Height, Age, Breed, temperament and personality, vices and quirks, health and soundness issues, details of the experience and type of exposure your horse has had as well as how he/she copes in different environments (such as Pony Club, minor or major competitions, trail rides) along with important competition results. Also include major competition results, whether your horse is in work at the moment and what type of rider is most suited to your horse. Don’t forget to include your location and contact details.

A picture says a thousand words and there is no truer expression when you are talking about horse photographs in for sale ads. The more high quality photos you can show of your horse the more interest you will get from potential buyers so you can choose the best home, something we all want when it’s time to re-home a beloved horse.

Girl riding trotting horse - horse photography

Photos from a real camera with a long lens (85mm+) will always give much better results than the camera on your phone – the main reason for this is phone cameras have a wide angle lens that causes all sorts of weird distortion, particularly in horses. Sometimes that distortion in photos can be kind of cute – but those type of photos will not help you sell your horse!

In fact, they usually make horses look like they have all kinds of conformation problems that knowledgeable horse people avoid like crazy!

Don’t worry if you only have a phone camera though – these tips will still help you improve your horse photos so that you will be able to make him look his best rather than looking like the offspring of a giraffe and a chihuahua!

Plan Ahead

1. Wash and groom your horse.

2. Have the camera or phone set to the highest size and resolution photo.

3. Remove rugs and blankets.  Buyers don’t have x-ray vision!

4. Pick a nice location without any clutter in the background that will distract from your horse. 

Buyers want to see the horse has clean legs and stands well without any obvious conformation issues.  A busy background will detract from your horse and can create optical illusions that make your horse look undesirable.

5. Get a friend to help make sure your horses’ ears are forward and they are looking alert but not spooked in the photo.  Have them stand in front of your horse holding a carrot or feed bucket to get their attention. 

If your horse is not easily spooked your friend can wave a bag, make silly noises or anything else that will make your horse look interested and alert.

Studio Horse Photography - equestrian studio photography

Consider the Lighting

7. Position the horse in either full shade or full sun – not dappled light.

8. Take the photo with the sun directly behind your back and parallel to the horse to avoid strong shadows that will alter how your horse looks in the photos.

Improve Your Technique

9. Turn the phone sideways. Landscape orientation is much better for horse photos (and videos).

10. Keep the camera at same level as the horse’s shoulder – kneel down for minis and small ponies.

11. Fill the frame with the horse – your horse is the star, so make it a photo of your horse rather than a photo of a landscape with a horse in it.

12. Avoid awkward angles such as having the head closest to the camera and the body furthest away. The distorted photo might be funny, but they really don’t help a prospective buyer decide to contact you.

13. Conformation shots standing facing the horse’s shoulder or girth with horse parallel to phone/camera, standing square, taking into account the specifics for your breed and discipline – what looks good for a quarterhorse will look like awful conformation for a dressage horse and vice versa.

Action Shots

Horse and rider show jumping - equestrian photographer

14. Include multiple action photographs in your for sale ad that show the trot, canter, jumping ability and other activities that show your horse’s talent and training.

15. Make sure the shot is at the right point in each stride so it shows your horse has even movement, can track up well, work in a frame, uses its hind end properly and anything else relevant to the training and ability of your horse.

16. Don’t use awkward movement photos captured at the wrong point of the stride, for example ones that show the horse with bent fetlock-pastern angles that make the leg look broken. This can be hard to do with slower cameras, particularly phone cameras and is a good reason to include a few minutes of continuous video to show the horse’s action.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please respect the photographers who cover events and shows. Do not use a professional photographer’s photo in sale ads without permission – especially watermarked photos that you have saved and not paid for. This is a breach of the photographers Copyright which is considered stealing. Each photographers terms and conditions are different – even if you have paid for a photo for your personal use, some photographers require a commercial licence fee if the photo is to be used commercially or to sell a horse.

It’s never an easy choice to sell a horse that you have put so much time and energy and emotion into, even when it is necessary such as going away to boarding school or university or time constraints from family or work commitments.

While it doesn’t make the decision to sell your horse any easier, it’s worth considering booking a professional photo shoot to get the best quality photos to help you find your horse a great home as well as give you tangible memories so you can remember your time together forever!

How to take the best photos to help sell your horse pinterest graphic

3 Piece Horse Studio Photography Wall Art - equestrian photographer

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