With entries now open for the Virtual SEIB Search for a Star championship at Your Horse Virtually Live next month, we asked one of our judges and our resident Search for a Star photographer for some top tips on getting that elusive perfect photo.

Virtual Search for a Star, Mountain and Moorland class judge, David Ingle knows a thing or two about showing and judging horses. David is Director of Showing at Hickstead, sits on most judging panels in the UK and judges both nationally and internationally.

A horse stood up correctly

David’s top tips:

Stand the horse or pony up square, on a flat, level surface in-hand with a well-fitting bridle; no other tack should be used.

Ensure the exhibit is square on to the camera. If the horse or pony is at an angle it can appear distorted or unbalanced in the picture.

The best side is the near-side from which to view the exhibit at first.

A “cheerful” picture is much more helpful than an “unhappy” one; ideally ears will be pricked and the exhibit will be alert.

Ensure the exhibit is well presented i.e. clean and well groomed – for the plaited classes, with suitable neat plaits. Always have the feet neatly trimmed if bare foot, or be well shod.

Ensure a clear view of the limbs is possible i.e. if there is a lot of tail then be sure to not let it “hide” the hocks.

Always make sure the exhibit is not too far away, or too close, so the picture is a good representation to assess.

How NOT to stand your horse up

Photographer, Sue Robb has been taking the pictures for the Search for a Star classes for many years. In addition to working as the PA to SEIB’s CEO, Barry Fehler, Sue runs her busy photography company SMR Photography and spends her weekends taking pictures either at horse shows, or on photo shoots.

Sue’s top tips:

Make sure your horse is standing in an area that provides a bit of space around him/her – no point cluttering up the image with the yard tools!  Middle of your arena, field or any open area should be okay.

Make sure the light is good and the sun is behind you not behind the horse otherwise you will end up with a silhouette!  However, try not to take the photo in really bright sunshine, contrary to what you may think most photographers hate the midday sun!

Early morning or later afternoon/evening provide a nice soft and usually more flattering light whilst middle of the day bright sunshine can cause glare and harsh shadows.

Hold your phone landscape not portrait.

If possible rest your phone on something as you take the shot as this will provide stability and prevent camera shake, alternatively rest your elbows on the fence, friend`s shoulder or tuck them into your ribs so you again provide stability, try not to hold the camera phone at arm`s length

Take your time to pose the horse and have someone standing out of shot attracting the horse`s attention to get ears forward (Mother`s chance to jump up and down waving arms frantically or rattling the feed bucket!

An alert, interested looking horse

CLICK HERE for the full Virtual Search for a Star schedule

CLICK HERE for the Virtual Search for a Star rules

CLICK HERE to enter!

Good luck