How to Take a Good Conformation Clinic Photo

Keep these dos and don'ts in mind when photographing your horse for Horse & Rider's Conformation Clinic, and up your chances at seeing him in the pages of the magazine!
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Photo 1 | In the January 2009 issue of Horse & Rider, we put the call out for more Conformation Clinic photo submissions. (Reminder, we're calling all breeds!) But having your horse selected for Conformation Clinic requires a little more than just pointing your camera and shooting. Don't worry, taking a great Conformation Clinic photo isn't rocket science, but there are some simple dos and don'ts that will give your horse an advantage right out of the starting gate.

Photo 1 |


  • Take a left-side profile of your horse. (See Photo 1)
  • Place your horse's entire body, including its head, at a 90-degree angle to the camera. This, and standing your horse on level ground, will ensure that its proportions appear accurate in the photo.
  • Consider banding, braiding, or combing your horse's mane over if it falls on the left side and is particularly long. This will give the judge a clearer view of the neck.
  • Place your horse in a well-lit, simple setting with little distractions.
  • Fit your horse's entire body in the picture, but make sure your horse isn't so far away that it's hard to see.
  • Try to keep the person holding the horse's lead rope out of the shot.
  • Make sure your horse is clean and well-groomed.
  • Put your horse in a well-fitted halter, preferably a solid color. Your halter doesn't have to be expensive or as fancy as this mare's, but it should fit well.
    Photo 2
  • Try your best to get your horse's ears up and alert. Do something that will pique your horse's interest, but not spook it. Some people throw grass or sand in the air, shake grain in a bucket, shake a bag or other noisy object (Be careful if your horse spooks!), lead another horse in front of the model horse, or make a funny noise.
  • Be intentional. A candid shot of your horse in the pasture won't follow these guidelines. You want your horse to look its best!


  • Place your horse in a distracting setting. (See Photo 2) The more going on in the background, the less focus on your horse.
  • Include the handler in the photo. Again, it distracts attention away from the horse.
  • Take a picture where your horse has its leg cocked, like this gelding's left hind foot.
  • Put your horse in a halter that's too big or otherwise ill fitted. It looks sloppy and can alter the appearance of your horse's features.
  • Stand your horse on a slope. (See Photo 3) This gelding's rear-end looks higher than it really is.
    Photo 3 |
  • Take a picture of your horse at an angle--it skews your horse's proportions.
  • Outfit your horse in bell boots or any other kind of tack.
  • Take a right-side profile. (See Photo 4)
  • Include any other horses in the photo.
  • Catch your horse snoozing!

Digital Cameras

We prefer to receive images from digital cameras. Before you take your photo, make sure your digital camera is set to take pictures at the highest quality possible. This will ensure that the picture resolution is high enough to be printed in the magazine. (We can't print images less than 300 dpi at 4 x 6 inches.) On most digital cameras, there is a menu option for image quality. Select the option "high quality," "HQ" or "3264 x 2448." If you're unsure how to do this, consult your owner's manual. Also, turn off the date stamp option on your camera before shooting. Do not crop or alter your image before sending. If any adjustments need to be made, we can make them.

Scanning Hard Copies

If you don't have a digital camera but would like to scan a hard copy photo, make sure your printer is set to scan at high resolution. On your scanner menu, select "high resolution," "high quality" or "300 dpi." If you're unsure how to do this, consult your owner's manual. Try to make sure your hard copy and scanner are dust free before scanning.

Photo 4 |

Sending Hard Copies

If you would like to send a hard copy of your photo, make sure it is sent in bend-proof packaging. Do not write anything on the back of the photo or attach anything to it with paper clips, tape or glue--include written information on a separate piece of paper and pack it so that ink can't rub off onto your photo. Have your photo developed at you neighborhood photo place or print it on high-quality photo paper--do not use copy paper.

Submitting Your Photo

Email your photo to with the subject heading "Conformation Clinic." Make sure you include your contact information and your horse's breed, age, gender and height.