The sales horse photo – make it clean and professional!


It’s always hard to sell a horse, but creating a great-looking sales ad will help the process tremendously! The theme here is clean – clean horse, clean tack, clean rider, clean photo. It’s a lot like looking for a car – would you buy a car with a flat tire, dust you can see, and loaded with gum wrappers and coffee cups?  Here are some tips to boost the quality of your sales horse photo.


Jump to videos and shopping


Here’s your plan to create a professional sales horse photo:


Get your horse ready!


  • You want a clean horse; you really want a shiny horse. Sometimes a fresh bath can strip the natural oils in your horse’s coat, so add a shine product. Or, you could wait a day or after a bath to allow some oils to return.


  • You can also add a grooming oil for mega shine.  Oil buffing is a fun way to add shine, condition your horse’s coat, and repel stains. 


  • Tame the mane. You can do this easily with a damp brush and some mane mousse, or you may need to spend some time with training braids. Or, braid the mane in a discipline-appropriate style.




An excellent example of a headshot. Soft eye, impeccable braids, bloom, neutral background. Taken with a gray sky.



  • Bang the tail, but only if appropriate for the horse’s breed and/or job. Banging a hunter’s tail is great if you don’t want to sell them as a hunter.


  • Present a clean and tidy face! No eye crust, no nostril goop, tidy ears.  You can trim the outer edges of the ears and leave the insides fuzzy. 


  • Leg hair taming. For breeds that are naturally long-feathered, keep them long and sparkling. For that transition between “feral outside horse in winter” and “summer show ready,” grab your clippers and trim up the lower legs. Tips on how to do that are here, also see video below.


  • Speaking of wooly coats – midway through a shedding cycle is not the time to photograph your horse. You can wait until the summer coat comes in or body clip your horse.


  • If you clip your horse, wait a few days and do extra conditioning on their hair coat to bring back the shine.  You can oil buff your horse after clipping to bring that luster back. 


  • You can photograph your horse when they’re wet. This adds depth to his color and may help the freshly clipped, pumpkin-colored chestnut look more like themself.




Get the tack and assistants ready! Well, hopefully, any assistants can get themselves ready.


  • Even if you are not showing any “action” shots of your horse being ridden, take the time to thoroughly clean and condition the bridle and reins. They will look prettier in a clean bridle instead of a halter and lead rope.


  • Only use subtle color saddle pads that are correctly fitted for riding photos.  You can add proper white or neutral-colored polo wraps or sport boots.




Natasha has it going on here! Clean. Tidy. Her outfit on point. Smile. Happy horse.



  • Get your helper ready! You may find that your horse’s conformation shot needs a helper, make sure that helper is dressed like a pro. Barn attire is ok, but make sure it’s neutral-colored, matching, no logos, and clean. Tucked in polo shirt, belt, shined up boots. Same for the rider – the attention should be on the horse.


For the photos!


  • Use a DSLR camera instead of your phone. Avoid wide-angle lenses as they can distort the picture. A zoom lens set at about 100-200 mm is fine for most shots.  Newer phone cameras can also do a good job, but using an eyepiece to frame your shot is easier with a DSLR. 


  • Pick the best lighting. High noon with the sun above is the least flattering time of day; the sun is direct and harsh. Pick cloudy days or the first hours after sunrise or before sunset. This makes the light softer and diffused, so your horse won’t have harsh light and dark shadows.




Taken at high noon on a sunny day. Portions of the photo are too light, others are too dark. You can barely see the horse!




This was also taken on a sunny day. BUT… the sun is behind me, which highlights the horse. A few hours later and the sun would have been too overhead.


  • Find level ground and a clean background. A field is perhaps the best background you can have unless it’s full of cows or horses. Less distraction is best.


  • Take boatloads of photos, especially if you are not skilled at taking pictures. This applies more to action shots, as you want to show the gait at the best moment. Don’t show a canter photo when he has his weight on his front foot. If you can take continuous shots instead of one at a time, do that!


  • Play around, and give yourself the option to do more than one “photo shoot” to get the most flattering pictures.


  • Practice grooming and taking pictures, and in no time you will have some great photos!


Videos and shopping



go shopping button for horse products


Stock up here for your horse supplies! As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, but it’s ZERO extra cents to you.  You can also visit my Amazon storefront here:  PEG storefront.

SHAPLEY'S Medi-Care Med Shampoo W/Tea Tree & Lemon Grass, 32 oz

The best shampoo for shine and soothing.

03/11/2024 11:12 am GMT
Shapley’s 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo - Whitening Formula

For all colors - to add shine and help lift stains.

05/08/2024 01:18 am GMT
Shapley's Equitone 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, GOLD

Brighten duns, palominos, and golden colors.

05/09/2024 01:58 am GMT
Shapley's 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, BLACK
$23.49 $17.65

For dark bays, black points, and black horses

05/08/2024 01:08 am GMT
SHAPLEY'S 32 oz. Color Enhancing Shampoo, RED

For chestnuts and some bays

05/08/2024 01:33 am GMT
Shapley's No.2 Heavy Oil

For deep conditioning and detangling - coat, mane, and tail.

05/11/2024 02:28 am GMT
Shapley's No.1 Light Oil
$19.99 ($0.62 / Fl Oz)

For shine, conditioning, detangling, and stain protection.

03/11/2024 08:33 pm GMT
03/11/2024 03:38 pm GMT
HANDSON Pet Grooming Gloves - Grooming, Bathing, Shedding
$24.99 $16.99

These are HandsOn Gloves with special pricing! Only in the color gray.

03/29/2024 08:24 pm GMT



Thank you!