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  • Caroline Nijs

Easy and not-so-easy horse models

In between the closing of my business and our move to Switzerland, I was desperately missing taking photos of horses. So I posted a model call on my social media. Several horse people took pity on me and volunteered their services. I assume getting nice photos of themselves with their horses was a nice incentive though.


A sweet lady on a beautiful horse farm


Nicky is one of the people who responded to my model call. I had been at her facility before for another client. She has a very nice set-up: beautiful pastures and a quaint barn. But also: a heated barn and a riding arena with premium footing! Anyway, I swooned over it for a while, got acquainted with the resident dog and cat and then we got down to business.

pet photography cat in barn

Young horses and photo sessions


Nicky had a young horse that she was still training. She told me that she had had a christmas shoot with Boris and that none of the photos worked out because he was not of the cooperating type. I told Nicky not to worry, I never rush my models, horses and people alike, and if either of them needs to let of some steam, then so be it. No big deal. So I was very confident that, with a good portion of patience, we would get nice shots of the both of them.

equine photography horse and owner in riding arena

I don't mind horses being fidgety or even a bit naughty. It's part of who they are. When the owners are nervous are their behavior during the shoot, I always tell them exactly that. After all, these horses are being submitted to an activity that is new to them, or at least not a part of their regular routine. We can't ask them to just accept that. Some will but some, and I dare say most of them, won't. And that's ok, I can work with both.

And that's also why you need to choose an equine photographer like me: one who has hands-on experience with horses.


Location matters


We started out in the arena, because then Boris knows he needs to be in "working mode". He was indeed very fidgety, clearly the kind of horse that can't stand still. Nothing a fast shutter speed can't handle though ☺️. Luckily there was plenty of light to accommodate that.

What we did not seem to achieve, was getting his ears upright. I've been there with my Sophie, she downright refused to put them forward. It's annoying, but, if that is your horse's personality, then we just have to go with it. And it makes for a nice story as well, when you show off your album to your friends.


Then onwards to the yard, which for Boris meant playtime 😄. Really, I can only imagine how fun it must be to ride a horse with such an energy.

Here he is, finally with his ears forward. We soon realized that something was moving in the fields. I could only hope that, whatever it was, it would stay there for a while. On the other hand, it might have given us some really cool action photos!

equine photography horse and owner against wooden barn door

Despite the bright sun, we got a few very nice images but after a while it became clear that Boris was done posing. So we did some walking shots to get his mind back into business. I love walking shots, I do them in every session. People are usually a bit more relaxed when they do this. There's less focus on the camera and more for the horse so the connection is more visible in the images.

horse and owner against blue sky

No outfit change but a horse change


Boris was set free in his pasture and you could almost hear him sigh from relief to be able to go back to his hay. Now it was time for Nicky's other horse.

I remember arriving at Nicky's barn for my other photo session, months earlier. And there's was this horse, just walking around on the farm. No one in sight. I slightly panicked and went off to meet my then model to ask her whether we should not try to catch that horse, like right now. She laughed and told me that he was the resident senior citizen, allowed to roam the place.


Meet Briggles, the free roaming lucky fellow. I just love to see the affection in this image! I think this is my favorite photo of the both of them. The love between them just radiates of the photo!

senior horse and owner against red wood barn

Family photos


Nicky asked me we could quickly do a photo of her family as well. Of course we could! So she went to get her daughter and her two dogs. What I like most in this photo is how everyone, four-legged models included, are so relaxed.

senior horse, owner and daughter and dogs against wood barn door

Horse people are the best!


I had told Nicky how I missed my own farm and she immediately told me that I could spend as much time on the farm as I needed. And photograph whatever I wanted. It is amazing how horse people you have never met before, are able to understand you better than your non-horsey friends.


Anyway, I jumped on the opportunity and roamed around for about an hour.

This pony had been braided by their owner the day before. It is still one of my favorite photos.

black and white horse neck with braids

This is another senior citizen with many issues. He was still very curious though! He alternated between following me around in the pasture and taking a bite of hay. Super sweet!

senior horse with fly mask

And of course, horse noses, so soft, always beautiful 🧡

senior horse nose



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