FROM CLIP TO CLICK | Getting Your Horse Ready for Your Photo Shoot

I brought in a grooming expert, Morgan Osbaldeston of CLIPclop Bodyclipping, to give us her best tips on preparing your horse for a photo shoot. In this blog post she talks all about grooming and how to make your horse look their best. We’ll do a follow up post about clipping your horse for a shoot.

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Ready for your (horse’s) closeup?

For many of us, our horses are family members, so it’s always exciting time when a photoshoot is scheduled that involves your horse!  Whether the photoshoot is a family shoot that includes your horse or is a portrait shoot dedicated to your four-legged friend, here are a few of my grooming tips (from personal experience!) to help ensure your horse is ready for their closeup.

Grooming preparations

Book the hairdresser, a nail appointment, and pull out the makeup! It’s similar for your horse!  For a more casual shoot, you may want your horse’s mane long, but for a more formal shoot, you’ll want to pull the mane. A good rule of thumb is 4” - so that when you lay the mane flat against the neck, it is the same length as the width of your hand. If you’re going for the braided look, hire a professional. This will let you focus on other things while your horse is being braided and ensures that those tiny details like flyaways will be mastered.

Also keep in mind when your horse last had their feet done - even if you’ll be standing in long grass, you never know what will show through! I’ve seen a beautiful wedding photo circulating the internet where all of the comments are on what rough shape the horse’s feet are in. Don’t let that be your photo!

If you own a gray, bathe, bathe and bathe some more!  I recently worked a very public event where the guest of honor was a palomino pinto.  His owners bathed him twice a week for the entire month prior. If you own a horse that’s gray or has lots of chrome, bathe regularly and often in the days prior to your photoshoot. Do not leave it to the day before to get the Georgia clay stains out of them!

That said, regular, deep grooming is key to a glowing horse - whether you have a photoshoot planned or not!  I try to avoid regular use of shampoo, and instead opt for high pressure water and the “flat” setting on the hose nozzle to really lift dirt and sweat out of the coat on a day-to-day basis.  Lots of elbow grease and good nutrition will have your horse’s coat looking the best!

And while we’re on the topic of maintenance and nutrition, if you’ve owned your horse long enough you probably know when his “best” time of the year is. Some horses struggle to maintain coat condition and weight in the winter, while others have a harder time in the late summer. If you have owned your horse long enough to know when he typically looks his best, you may want to schedule your appointment for that time of year. If your photoshoot is based on the season (such as Holiday photos, graduation photos) have a plan to help boost his appearance with extra grooming, condition, and supplements if needed and start well in advance.

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Emma & Jet | Georgia State University Senior

I photographed Emma and Jet four years ago for her high school senior portraits. Their viewing session was one of my absolute favorites because her mom cried while looking at the photos. Four years later, I got to photograph them again as Emma finished her senior year at Georgia State University.

What I love about Emma and Jet’s story is that it isn’t one of those instant connections between horse and rider. They had to work hard to get where they are. When I took her high school senior portraits, they had had been working together well for awhile, and by the time I took her college senior pictures this year, I could see the connection between the two of them. Our stories with our horses are so special and unique. They take time, hard work, and trust.

Jet and I’s whole relationship has been lots of emotions. When I first got him I was a freshman in high school and we went through a long rough patch where we didn’t understand each other yet. When we got pictures done with you I was a senior in high school and we had progressed so much by then. It was such a relief because I went through a time where I wasn’t sure if him and I were ever going to be partners.

Now I’m a senior in college and about to graduate. We’ve progressed even more so and having those pictures just always reminds me of all the stages we’ve been through, but also how great it’s been. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today without it.

Bolshoi | Black Background Equine Portrait

Liam and I went out to Cedarcrest Farm in Hiram, GA one morning to photograph black background portraits of Bolshoi. Julie wanted to have some photos as a gift for his owner. He is sweet as he is handsome, and prefers to suck on peppermints rather than chew them (which is the funniest thing to watch). I think the best part of this session was that I hung around talking with Julie after the photos were taken while Liam played around the barn. I got to hear all about how she was a professional rider before she took time off to raise her kids and is now back to riding. One of the core values of my business is connection and I love how this session sums it up perfectly: the connection of horse and rider, owner and rider, owner and horse, and how they all care for each other so deeply as well as an effortless connection between myself and Julie that we wanted to hang out chatting after the session.

And, just because he's so cute. Here's my little helper waiting patiently while I took Bolshoi's photos!