Lifestyle Young Rider

Take the Perfect Selfie with Your Horse

A girl takes a cell phone picture while trail riding
When taking an obvious selfie, hold the camera higher than your shoulder and look slightly above the screen. Photo by Dusty Perin

A selfie simply means a photo you take of yourself. For horse lovers everywhere, fitting your horse into this picture of you makes it way better! You can have even more fun with selfies by using creative smartphone apps to add borders and filters. To make your horse selfie stand out from the crowd, you’ll need an extra dose of skill and creativity.

Here, Dusty Perin, a professional equine photographer, offers some great tips on how to ace the most difficult of all selfies: the horse selfie. Those horse heads are big, after all!

You’re staring down the lens and mugging for the camera. The whole world knows it’s a selfie, and we’re cool with it. It’s a selfie as it should be, in its purest state.

The Obvious Selfie

Top tips for improving the obvious selfie:

◆ Experiment by holding the camera both horizontally and vertically to see which one gives you a better image; don’t fall into a routine of always holding it vertically.
◆ Try juxtaposition. This means putting one subject in front with a second subject that you want to create a connection to further in the background.
◆ For example, you could create a close-up of you and your horse with the cupola of the barn towering high above. This not only tells the viewer who it is, but where you are.
◆ Photobomb on purpose. Experiment with taking a nice portrait of your horse with yourself photobombing in the background. Humorous photos always get a lot of love!
◆ Create flattering angles by holding your camera arm higher than your shoulder.
◆ Get a nice wide-eyed look by looking just above the camera. A common mistake is to look at the center of the screen, and the result can be an unflattering, sleepy expression.

A rider takes a selfie with her horse
If you can’t fit everything in the picture, let your horse photobomb you. The comedy will be sure to please! Photo by Dusty Perin

The Subtle Selfie

It isn’t clear if this is or isn’t a selfie. The subtle selfie is designed to look as if you’re unaware of the camera. The beauty of creating this type of image is that you can share a moment with your horse without feeling self-conscious that a photographer is watching.

A girl snuggles with her pony while taking a picture
The most difficult part of creating a subtle selfie is trying to keep the camera from tilting when you’re purposely not looking at it as you take the shot. Photo by Dusty Perin

Top tips for improving the subtle selfie:

◆ Never look directly at the camera. The idea is to fool the viewer into thinking that you didn’t know the camera was there. Try looking at your horse, or off to the side or into the distance, or just close your eyes and bond.
◆ Be aware of keeping the camera position level. This is difficult to do when you’re purposely not looking at the camera.
◆ Look for moody lighting to accentuate the feelings you have for your horse, such as sun-bathed doorways, silhouettes just after the sun goes down, or late-afternoon shadows.
◆ Try different expressions. One person can have dozens of smiles that convey different feelings.
◆ Interact with your horse. This selfie is about creating a feeling, and to do that, you need to touch, bond, lean, kiss and hug. Use physical contact to help show your emotional connection.
◆ If you’re working in low light conditions, try to find something you can steady your hand on, like leaning it against a wall or resting it on something, like the ledge of a stall door.

The Creative Selfie

It’s you without being obvious. Perhaps it’s your shadow or reflection. The key ingredient is pushing the limits of your creativity.

A silhouette of a horse and rider
To snap a creative selfie, try taking a picture of your horse’s shadow on the arena sand or even snow. Photo by Dusty Perin

Top tips for improving the creative selfie:

◆ Break the standard photography rules. You never know what works for a creative image until you try it—like aiming into the sun for a bit of solar flare.
◆ Look for places to capture your full shadow as you ride by, like on snow or the side of a barn in the late afternoon.
◆ Capture yourself in the reflection of a pond or in the mirrors of an indoor arena.

Selfie Sticks

It used to be that selfies were restricted by the length of your arm or the width of a wide-angle lens on your camera, but not anymore. We have entered the age of the selfie stick!

This stick is an extendible device with a remote trigger. The telescoping style of the selfie stick allows you to extend your reach by up to 3.5 feet, opening the door to creativity even wider. This is the PERFECT tool for getting your horse’s big ol’ head to fit in the picture!

A kid uses a selfie stick to take a selfie with his horse
The telescoping selfie stick has opened the door for more creative photo options. Photo by Dusty Perin

Some horses may be afraid of the stick, so work carefully and talk to him reassuringly until he is comfortable around it.

Then you can hold the smartphone on the stick over your head and look skyward to create a bird’s eye view of you and your horse. Try extending it out to the side to capture an image of yourself riding (make sure you know where you’re going and don’t go too fast!).

If you are filming while you ride, the stick is moving with you, so the camera will capture a sharp image of you and may let the background blur, which will create a sense of motion.

Do you want to create a group shot of you and your friends and your horses? This is easy with the selfie stick. When you’re done, it telescopes down to a small enough size that you can put it in your saddle pack and take it with you on your ride.

Back It Up

One final word of advice: Save your selfies! If they are good enough to share, then make sure they’re backed up on your computer’s hard drive or a cloud service.

The best ones are the moments you want to remember forever. Don’t depend on your social media accounts to preserve them for you. What’s even more fun is to go old school and order a printed photo book—or “hard copies,” as we call them.

While some might say we are a self-absorbed society, I think we just appreciate the fact that we can capture memories in ways that other generations could not.

I grew up riding in an era before smartphones and only have distant memories of my early riding adventures. But now the selfie can give us happy reminders of the life we lead with our horses on a daily basis.

This article about taking the perfect horse selfie appeared in the May 2022 issue of Young Rider magazine. Click here to subscribe!


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