Selling a Horse - It's All In The Photo

  Trying to sell a horse in the current market is a big challenge.  One thing that can make or break a sale is a good quality photo.  With a good photo your horse will be shown off to its best advantage.  A bad photo can turn a lovely horse into something a buyer wouldn't touch.

The first thing to consider is that you need to make sure the horse is fully prepared for the photo shoot.  If the weather is warm enough, the horse should be given a thorough bath.  Grey horses or horses with white markings benefit from shampoos that whiten the hair.  Once the horse is dry, it should be groomed as though it was being taken to a show.  Keep in mind the way horses from your discipline are turned out for the ring.  If they are braided, braid the horse.  If they have pulled manes, pull the mane.  The horse needs to look as though it is ready to go out and win.  Even if the horse is a pleasure horse there should be no tangles in its mane or tail and it should look its best.

To photograph the horse, two or more people are needed.  There’s plenty to do - take the photos, handle the horse, focus its attention, etc.

The first photos to be taken are the conformation photos - the idea of which is to show off at its best, how your horse is put together.
In order to take these, your horse should . . .  

The goal is to have several shots from both sides so your clients can get a good idea of what your horse looks like.

For the next photos, if possible, let your horse loose in an enclosed area. The aim is to take a series of photos of the horse walking, trotting and cantering. The goal for the trot is to get the shots with the horse's leg extended forward to show off how well it moves.

Finally, if the horse is trained, it should be tacked up and photographed under saddle or in harness, as appropriate.

When posting an ad, select the photo you feel best shows off your horse.  If it's going under saddle, be sure to use one with it working rather than just a free shot.
Some websites allow multiple photos.  If you use this feature, make sure that you include at least one conformation shot, one movement shot and one shot under saddle or in harness.  Head shots are a nice added touch, but are not good selling photos, so only add them if you have extra room.
Another good idea is to upload your photos to an online photo hosting site.  You can then direct inquiries to the site instead of constantly having to attach pictures to your emails.

 A good photo will attract buyer to come look at your horse.  A bad one will only make them turn away.  Without good photos you are better off not having a photo at all.  The right pictures will make the difference between a no-show and a sale.

   adapted from an article by Philippe Wiskell


1 this could be square, with front and back feet standing side-by-side, or offset, with the hind legs apart and the front feet square, or open, with all four legs showing, the ones closest to the photographer in a bit while the ones away from the photographer are spread further apart.  Some breeds require the horse to stand in a special stretched position, but if not familiar with setting the horse up this way, it pays to stick with the basic square, offset or open positions.