Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How to take the perfect conformation picture

As someone who takes their horse's conformation picture without fail at least once a month, I am here to share my secrets in how to get your horse to best show off his body and pose him or her with a similar stance and expression for side by side comparison.

cannot be held liable if your horse is just naturally fugly.

Before we delve too deeply into things, we have to have a very brief spelling and word definition lesson.

Conformation: manner of formation; structure; form, as of a physical entity.

We are looking at the way your horse is conformed NOT confirmed when taking a conformation picture. Your horse is confirmed in his trot work. He is not confirmed like a hunky, handsome foundation bred Quarter Horse.

Also, definitely and defiantly are not the same thing, but that's a lesson for another day.

defiantly glaring at the camera because he definitely does not like photo day.

Step One: Choose a background that's not distracting.

Easiest step ever! Please do not include any of the following in your horse's conformation picture:

  • swing sets
  • another horse peeing
  • a person peeing
  • dangerous objects laying on the ground
  • general garbage laying on the ground
  • small barefoot children
  • barbed wire fencing
  • a background so dark or so light that your horse blends in with it
Step Two: Teach your horse to ground tie OR find someone willing to hold your horse.

If your horse is willing to stand quietly ground tied, you can usually get a decent enough conformation picture. The problem here is that you usually end up with more pictures of your horse staring off into the distance at things he finds far more interesting, or at the very least staring at you hoping you'll get the hint that he finds this entire process very boring, and you'll soon let him go do things he finds far more interesting.

"hi. when do i get to eat?"

To easily solve that problem, just grab a barn friend or unwilling significant other. Assure them there is nothing more fun than holding your horse in the exact position you put him in for several minutes at a time. "Oh, you thought we were done? No! I have to move his hind foot back one inch."

Make sure you give them clear instructions about what their job is. "Can you crinkle this wrapper so his ears come forward? But don't let him stretch his head out like that. And don't get in my picture, so take a step back. But don't let him move from his position! Now we have to start all over again."

Don't let this "volunteer" try to trick you into letting them take the picture and you hold the horse. You're better off being in charge of the whole shebang and bossing them around. They'll get over it or they're saner than you are not a real friend.

Step Three: Bring snacks.

They can be for you, but also bring some for your horse. Food is key to keeping your horse from holding his breath and sucking in his ribs so he looks like he hasn't been fed in months, thereby ruining every single picture you take and forcing you to give up your own snacks to keep your horse happy and looking slightly photogenic.

Ugh, horses are the worst.


Step Four: Set up for the perfect pose.

Little known fact: Three legs are better than two. Four legs are better than three. Space those puppies apart...but not so far apart that your Thoroughbred looks like a Saddlebred.

or a hackney with a bobbed tail.

Step Five: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

If you are very small and your horse is very large, you won't have to crouch down to get a better angle. If you are very tall, engage those thighs and get a little low. It makes for an overall prettier picture. Just do it because I said so.

Step Six: Don't stop at one. Or even five.

Take ten million pictures all at once. Even if you think you got the perfect shot, take more. When you've taken ten million pictures, feel free to give your horse handler a rest, but don't let them escape. Chances are, once you look through the ten million pictures, you'll end up wanting to delete them all because they're not as good as you thought they were.

basically just always starving, but genes that give mutant rib cages cannot be changed

So there you have it. Six easy peasy steps to taking the perfect monthly conformation picture of your horse which you should all be doing because there's nothing better than a year end collage of ponies.


  1. This process is the bane of my relationship with Emily. We are either cursing at the horse, each other or both. We've finally figured out a process that works best for us, but it has not been an easy road to get there! But getting good conformation shots is SO worth it in the end!

  2. Thanks for this! I'm planning to start a monthly conformation pic with Mystic every month (she goes for training in 30 days :O) and I can't wait to see the changes. Great tips!

  3. Love the tutorial! Avoiding people peeing seems to be good advice for life in general.

  4. This is totally brilliant. I love all the commentary and the various faces from Bobby. I'll definitely use these tips next month!

    And, I apologize profusely for making the confirmation/conformation mistake #horsemomfail

  5. I maintain that conformation pictures are a 3-4 person job. One to hold the camera. One to hold the horse. One to make sure the horse is set up. One to get ears.

    And you still have to take 10 million. That is the magic number.

  6. I always do step 5. Otherwise Paddy looks like a shetland pony.

  7. Bacon also has the rib cage dilemma gene. And a bit of the giraffe gene as well.

  8. LOL! I almost thought the answer was going to be "buy Bobby because he's a pro". But all actually excellent points.

  9. Love this!!! Thank you! And thank you re: conformation vs confirmation! Huge pet peeve. (Can I also add aisle vs isle? Because that is another big one. Granted it is unrelated to conformation! Lol)

  10. A person peeing.... Wth!? Lol 😂

  11. I stand Twister on the mats in front of the barn and hold a handful of pebbles. When he tries to walk off or eat I ping one off the barn door to get him to look alert and prick his ears. Probably not arecommended method for most horses........ :P

  12. lol i've been waiting for a post like this my whole life

  13. THIS. Like...all of this. You know how people always exaggerate when they say they're crying laughing? Well I'm not exaggerating. Every.Single.Thing in this is so true and so funny

  14. Here is your confirmation that this post on conformation is absolutely bomb AF hahahaha love it x 100.


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