Alyssa, Maverick & Joe | Alpharetta Equestrian Photography

Not all of my clients own the horses they love enough to book photo sessions with. These sessions hold a special place in my heart because they remind me of the connection I had with the horse I leased in high school. Often, your time together is so short, and documenting the time you do have through photography is something you will never regret.

Alyssa was ready for her senior portraits and knew she wanted to include the two horses that meant so much to her. Maverick and Joe are used at a therapeutic riding center in Woodstock, GA. Alyssa once leased Maverick, then followed him as he moved to become a therapy horse where she spent much of her time volunteering.

In her mom’s words, “Before Alyssa graduated and moved, she desperately wanted photos of her "second home”. Not only did she once lease Maverick, but she has volunteered with the therapeutic riding program he now participates in for many years.” The love between Alyssa and her two favorite horses was so obvious to see. Because of this, her photo shoot was so effortless.. I simply had to document the interaction between the three of them. We chased the light and photographed until it left us, took time to focus on each horse, and even loved on a couple of their pasture-mates who were determined to be my assistants.

I’ve said it many times, but I feel so strongly about including special horses in your senior photo sessions. Oftentimes, like Alyssa, the barn makes up such a huge part of who you are in your high school years. Those are the memories you will look back on. These horses are the ones you will want to want to remember 20 years down the road.

Abbe and Chaperone | Alpharetta Equestrian Senior Photographer

Every year I donate sessions for the GHJA and GDCTA awards banquets, and it is always fun to see who the winning bidder is! Abbe was the winning bidder at the GHJA banquet and used it for a senior portrait session with her horse Chaperone at Fortitude Farm in Alpharetta. Abbe was joined by her mom and her younger sister who were there to help with Chaperone. Within just a couple of minutes it was apparent how loved Chaperone is. Just imagine how much you love and care for your horse…now multiply that by three! There were pats, loving words, and treats at every turn from all three of them!

Abbe and her sister, Izzy, have been riding at Fortitude Farm since they were little girls spending most of their free time either there or at shows with their barn family. Her mom told be about how the small wooden barn in the back hold special memories for her. It was where she would watch her little girls tack up their lesson ponies before owning and sharing Chap. Abbe having her senior pictures there with Chaperone who carried through so many shows was a great way to honor her senior year. She is currently in her second semester at The University of Kentucky while Chaperone stayed at home to be loved on and ridden by Izzy.

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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