How to Take a Good Conformation Clinic Photo

Keep these do's 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!

We’re always asking for readers to submit their horse’s photo for Conformation Clinic. 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 do’s and don’ts that will give your horse an advantage right out of the starting gate.

[READ: How to Sell Your Horse Online]

To take a good Conformation Clinic photo place your horse in a well-lit, simple setting with little distractions and fit your horse’s entire body in the picture. (Left-side profile, please!) Abigail Boatwright


  • 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!
To help with your Conformation Clinic photo, try your best to get your horse’s ears up and alert. Abigail Boatwright


  • Place your horse in a distracting setting. 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.
  • 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.
  • Take a picture while your horse is in the pasture and not squared up.
  • 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.
  • Include any other horses in the photo.
  • Catch your horse snoozing!
While we love seeing photos of your horse enjoying pasture time, it doesn’t always make for a good Conformation Clinic photo. Here this horse is facing the wrong way, is not squared up, and is photographed on a slope.

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.

Smart Phone

If you decide to use your smartphone, be sure to email us the photo using the largest possible file size. If you reduce the image size it’ll be too small for print.

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.

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.

Once you’ve improved your chances of getting a photo into our Conformation Clinic department, learn how to accurately place horses for Confo Clinic here.

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