Ellison is a professional horse trainer and riding instructor. She runs a summer camp program and offers kids a safe introduction to horses.
Pick Out the Accessories You Want to Use
I got all the accessories for my photos from the dollar store Christmas decoration section. They actually have quite a variety of things to choose from. You can also try places like Michael's or Walmart, but you will probably end up spending more money there, which is fine if you are comfortable with it. But just remember that your horse might not be as enthusiastic about the accessories as you are.
When you are choosing what to use in your photos, consider if your horse will be comfortable with it or not. Things that are jingly or crinkly or make funny noises might take your horse some time to get used to.
Don't plan on doing the photoshoot on the day that you introduce your horse to the photo accessories. Plan on having a test run or two where you acclimate your horse to the stuff you want them to wear so they won't be afraid of it.
Do your dress rehearsals when you have plenty of time and can acclimate your horse slowly to whatever it is you want them to wear for your photos. Hopefully, they won't be bothered by them at all. Don't be afraid to use treats or feed them to help acclimate them to their dress-up stuff.
You might be surprised—your horses might not mind at all. It could also go the other way, and they could say, heck no, I'm not wearing that, which goes back to why buying the stuff at the dollar store is a good idea. That way, if it turns out you can't get your horse to wear it, you didn't waste a bunch of money!
Accessories Made Specifically for Horses
They make things especially for this purpose, like reindeer antlers for example. My horses didn't mind wearing those at all, but if you had a head shy horse, that might not be the case. You can easily make your horse look festive without spending a lot of money. Use the dollar store decorations you picked out as well as things you have in the barn. Maybe red, green, and white polo wraps or saddle pads.
Remember, sometimes less is more. We want the horses to look cute and festive. Not tacky!
Find a Buddy to Take Photos for You
Chose a time of day where the light outside will be best and ask a barn buddy to take your pictures for you. Maybe you could take theirs and they could take yours?
I would recommend just taking a zillion photos! You can always erase the bad ones that you don't want to use. Between the horse not posing quite right or you not being happy with how you look, it's better to just take a whole bunch. That way you know you will find a few great ones for your Christmas card.
How to Photograph More Than One Horse in the Photo
I have three personal horses that I wanted to get in my Christmas card photo last year, one mare and two geldings. They do not turn out with each other and the closest they ever get to each other is being ridden together in the arena. Even then, they don't seem to like being close to each other and are always pinning ears and swishing tails.
Due to that, I took my pictures with each horse individually and then used an app on my phone to put them together as a collage. It looks just as cute and I didn't have the worry of anyone biting and kicking or me getting squished by my Christmas clad horses in the process of getting the pictures taken.
Maybe your horses are best buddies and they won't mind being close to each other for pictures! Lucky you!
Awesome Christmas Cards!
Not only will your holiday cards be adorable, but think of all the desensitization training you are doing with your horse! And remember to have fun in the process!