Photographing a Thoroughbred yearling for sale.

Gus Wigley (Reproduced with kind permission)

Why a good photo matters

  • A standardised format for a conformation photo that allows a buyer to compare one horse with another
  • A photo must show the best version of a horse
  • First impressions count, especially on Gavelhouse


  • Take photos before mid-morning in summer
  • Stand horse directly side on to the sun
  • Direct, bright sun leaves too many shadows under the horse
  • Light high cloud, that still casts a shadow, is best

Scope and positioning

  • Primary photo should always be the near side of the horse
  • Stand 15-20m from the horse
  • Always take the photo in line with the horse’s shoulder
  • Take the photo from the height of the wither
  • Move with the horse as it moves to make sure you’re always in the right position
  • Have a clear, bright and tidy background


  • Horse must look bright, alert and show its rein
  • Ears forward/pricked
  • Head stretching forward
  • Head looking forward and slightly to the left
  • Download horse or animal sounds on your phone
  • Bright eye

Front legs

  • Near side leg should be dead vertical and locked
  • Offside leg placed behind
  • Off foot should be 30cm behind near front foot
  • Off leg should be locked
  • Off leg should cross behind off front leg 3-4 inches above knee

Hind quarter

  • Cannon of near hind should be vertical or just angled behind
  • Off hind should be under the horse, 50cm approx in front of near hind
  • For a short-coupled horse, stretch the middle by placing the near hind behind the horse
  • For a long horse, compact the middle by placing the near hind under the horse

Other shots

  • Front on – feet square, camera at horse’s chest height, horses’s head out of shot
  • Hind shot – feet reasonably square, taken from your chest height, leader standing to side
  • Head shot – ears pricked, eyes alert, taken from at or below horse’s eyes, rump in shot
  • Feet – take on solid ground, feet square, taken from horse’s chest. height, trim and dress feet

The leader

  • Leader moves the horse back and forth to get feet positioning correct
  • Move horse backwards with chest pressure rather than pressure with the lead
  • Hold horse under chin until helper gets horse’s attention then step out of shot
  • Practice – a good leader should be able to parade a yearling and bring the horse to a stop in the correct leg position for inspection

Other points

  • Do not Photoshop out leads – shows a canny buyer the photo has been altered and just look weird
  • Have a person in shot as little as possible
  • Groom the horse like it’s going through the ring
  • If you’re breeding commercially, invest in a good camera – it’s one extra bid
  • Three people are needed
  • Young people are awesome at editing photos – ask for help

Things to avoid

  • These photos are taken from a recent lower-level sale in Australia

A 'SUPER' Photo

  • A well taken photo shows a horse in its best light and can have a lasting legacy


  • Penny TAYLOR
    04/07/2022 at 2:37 pm


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