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6 Tips for Taking Photos for a Horse Sale Ad

When you are creating a horse sale ad, it’s essential to include a picture of your horse. These days, selling anything online means sharing plenty of eye-catching media. People will be more interested in a horse if the ad has a picture, and you’re likely to sell the horse much faster!

Keep in mind that the picture will be your horse’s first impression to any potential buyers. You want to set them up for success, and that starts with taking a great photo. 

Good photos in a horse sale ad save time and money in the long run. Accurate descriptions and photos help buyers make a decision before they waste your time showing the horse in person.

In today’s post, I’m sharing my top 5 tips for getting great photos of your horse that turn heads and draw in potential buyers. It starts with special grooming for photos, includes tips on location scouting, lighting hints, and advice for posing your horse for the perfect shot.

A bathed and shining horse stands on a brick surface.

This is an example of an excellent horse sale ad photo. The horse is pictured from the side, on solid ground, with a plain background. The horse is well-groomed, but not so shiny that the sheen distracts from the photo.

Horse Sale Ad Grooming Tips

Making sure your horse is well groomed should be the first step. If your horse’s coat is dull, or there are dirt and grass stains on them, then they should have a bath first.

Here are a few grooming tips just for preparing for a sale photo photoshoot:

  1. Avoid conditioner. Coat conditioners are popular for show prep because they add a sheen to the coat. However, this can increase glare in horse sale ad photos. Instead, a clean coat will be glossy enough.
  2. Experiment with mane care. Does your horse have an ewe neck or have a thick crest? Braiding a mane- or doing a running braid– may help accentuate or hide neck features.

The best time of year for a good picture of your horse is in the spring after they are done shedding. Their springtime coat will be shiny. It also won’t be damaged by the sun yet. Your horse should look its very best in the photo for the sale ad.

Grey horses and other light-colored horses especially will benefit from a bath before their photo. If you are going to have a color photo for your ad, then a bath is definitely recommended. Baths can make their coat look extra clean and shiny. 

Once they are dry, give them a really good brushing to get any extra dirt off. Brushing will also help to get rid of any remaining hair that hasn’t shed out yet. Make sure to brush all of the knots out of their mane and tail as well. You can even braid their mane for the picture too. This is a good idea if they have a thick mane and you are planning to take the picture on the side their mane falls on. Braiding their mane will allow their neck to be visible.  

Find the Right Location

It is important to find the right location for taking the picture. You may need to take several pictures in different locations to find the perfect one.

Make sure your horse is standing on flat, solid ground so that they are standing straight and look proportionate. If your horse’s front hooves and back hooves are not level, their build may look “uphill” or “downhill,” which various types of riders find unappealing.

It is best to avoid having them stand on grass, since the grass may cover up their hooves. You’ll want to be sure all of the horse’s body visible in the picture.

Background & Foreground

Make sure there is nothing blocking your view of the horse – no fences or objects in the way.

Try to keep the background as plain as possible to avoid any objects behind the horse from showing up where you don’t want it. It will be very distracting for anyone looking at the picture if there is a fence post that looks like it is sticking out of your horse’s head!

 

Pay Attention to the Lighting

The most vital part of taking a horse sale ad photo is to make sure you have excellent lighting.

Outdoor lighting: If you are taking the photo outside (I recommend that you do!) you will have the sun to provide adequate light. Ideally, you will want to keep the sun behind you when you take the picture to avoid any glare or overexposure of the picture.

I find that my best horse sale ad photos turn out on overcast but not-too-dark days. Lighting on overcast days is soft and diffused, helping avoid glares and deep shadows.

No photographer shadows: You will have to play with positioning a bit to make sure you are not casting a shadow in the middle of your picture.

If you are taking the photo inside – either in an barn aisle way or in the arena – you will have to manufacture the light yourself. If the barn does not have very bright lights, you may need to bring in some portable ones to increase the lighting. Once again, keep the lights behind you and aimed at your horse as much as possible.

Having a light directly overhead of your horse will help as well, just make sure to avoid getting the light fixture in the photo.

Use your Best Halter

Photos of horses for sale ads are taken from the side, with the horse untacked. The horse should be wearing only a halter. I recommend using the most expensive halter you have (or can borrow!) as long as it fits your horse well.

Humans automatically make assumptions based on photos. A horse with $10,000 photographed in a nylon halter while wearing a barbed wire fence is likely to create an assumption that the horse is worth far less. On the other hand, photographing a horse worth $1,500 in an expensive leather halter with a nice backdrop may help subconsciously communicate to buyers that your horse is worth more.

Woman watches a horse move.

Position the Horse for the Photo

When you take the picture, stand so you are facing the side of the horse.

Most sellers take the picture on the left side of the horse, but either side is fine. Make sure the whole horse fits in the photo, but don’t take it from too far away. The horse should fill the whole frame of the photo.

If the horse is too far away, it will look too small in the picture and be hard to see clearly.

It will be easiest to have a friend hold your horse so you can focus on taking the picture and not have to worry about them moving. Your friend will need to stand a few feet in front of the horse to stay out of the frame of the camera. 

Get Their Ears Forward

To get your horse looking nice and alert in the photo, you will want to get their ears perked forward. You will probably need a friend to stand in front of the horse and do something to get their attention. This can be something simple like tossing a handful of grass in the air. Another option is to use a noise that the horse finds interesting.

One of my favorite tricks is to play a video of other horses neighing- horses always respond with perked, curious ears. If you have time, you can even train your horse to perk their ears on command (it’s one of my best secrets for a winning edge in showmanship classes!)

Conclusion

Getting a really good picture of your horse is a very important part of their sale ad. It is a great idea to take multiple pictures in a few different spots, and from different angles, and then pick the best one. It doesn’t hurt to have a lot of options to choose from or ask a knowledgeable horseperson about which you should choose.

Need more help? Recently, the University of Mississippi’s extension office created this resource on marketing horses in the digital age that readers might find helpful. (Extension offices are non profit government offices staffed specifically to help local farmers and gardeners integrate emerging research into their work).

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