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5 Tips for a Horse Holiday Photoshoot

Posted by Animal Care Team on
White horse in snowy paddock wearing a wreath. Photos by Terise Cole

How to Conduct the Holiday Photoshoot of Your Dreams

with Equine Photographer Terisé Cole

The holidays are just around the corner, which means that photos for holiday cards and portraits to be given as gifts need to be taken soon! If you’ve been thinking of having professional photos taken with your horse, fall and early winter can be a great time to book a photoshoot.

“A lot of people do like to wait until there’s snow on the ground or the leaves have fallen to book their holiday photoshoot,” says professional equine photographer Terisé Cole of Terisé M. Cole Photography. Based in central Massachusetts, she specializes in portraiture and event coverage. Terisé has traveled around the country to photograph horse shows such as the North American Youth Championships, American Gold Cup, Kentucky Three-Day Event, World Equestrian Games, International Hunter Derby Championships and more.

We asked Terisé for her top tips to nail your holiday photo shoot and here’s what she had to say!

Horse wearing a wreath. Terese Cole

Plan your photos around the daylight

Terisé likes to shoot during the “Golden Hour”, which is about an hour before sunset.

“The sun is going down, the light has softened and there’s less shadows that can be unflattering on the human and the horse,” says Terisé. “If I feel like I need extra time, sometimes I will start shooting an hour before Golden Hour. At you barn, if you have a lot of trees or the sun is blocked by either the landscape or a building, let your photographer know so he/she can factor that into your photoshoot’s schedule. 


Familiarize your horse with props

If you plan on using props during your holiday photoshoot—for example reindeer antlers, wrapped packages, garland or holiday lights—make sure you familiarize your horse with them ahead of time! This should also be done with any clothing that makes noise or is out of the ordinary. Most horses don’t see billowy, blowing dresses often and can be spooky around them.

“Your horse should be alert, but not scared,” explains Terisé. “If you have access to the props you would like to use during your shoot, definitely show them to your horse ahead of time so he’s not spooking at it the day of your photoshoot.”


Groom your horse like you’re going to a show

When it comes to making your horse for the shoot, Terisé recommends thinking show-ready caliber grooming.

“Horses should be sparkling clean. Braiding is of course optional, but your horse shouldn’t have any manure stains or visible dust and dirt on him,” says Terisé. “Get your ShowSheen out and brush every shaving out of your horse’s mane and tail. Make him spotless!”


Keep calm, everyone!

Having a photoshoot should be exciting, not scary! To keep your horse calm Terisé recommends giving him a quick lunge or to schedule the shoot a few hours after your ride. That way your horse has a chance to use up some energy and will be less antsy during the shoot. Make sure to leave plenty of time for grooming between exercise and the photoshoot. During the shoot, feel free to give your horse lots of breaks or let him walk a circle in between shots.


As for keeping the humans calm

Terisé recommends wearing clothing that is comfortable and that you feel confident in. If you’re feeling nervous during the shoot, let your photographer know. They can help you loosen up and guide you into positions to get that perfect shot!

All photos in this blog post by Terisé Cole

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