In Hand Show Photography

Over the past few days I’ve been running all over, shadowing in photography and working hence the delayed post, but here is another insight into my work with Storm! This time looking at In Hand Show Photography.

Another aspect of equine photography that isn’t necessarily something you’d give a second thought to is showing in hand. Not as thrilling to watch as jumping or dressage but equally as skilled and beautiful.

The idea is essentially simple, get a horse’s best movement as well as the handler in a tight central shot. The problem with this is that there is no longer one aspect of horse and rider, it doubles as a horse with the handler.

To start off, like any type of photography think of where the best pictures will be. Make sure you shoot away from the sun and that the background isn’t overcrowded with vibrant colors and shapes. Also, make note of the weather, if there are going to be quick changes of light with an overcast sky, make sure you have settings prepared for these sudden changes, so again set an auto ISO and stick with an overcast or AWB.

in hand class of a gypsy vanner in cardigan

Standing Square

Let’s start with a standing shot. Ideally, you want to be 45 degrees on to horse to see its full length and get a good face angle. You also want the horse to be standing square – front legs evenly apart and back legs parallel to this.  The second part is to make sure the ears are forward. There are several tricks for this, such as asking the handler to feed the horse some grass, waving at the horse, or getting someone to make noises so the horse looks over. Finally, you want to have the handler look relaxed and not awkward.  In this example on the left, the cropping is a bit tight on the horse and ideally, there would not be a traffic cone in the middle ground.

inhand class at caridgan show of welsh section a palimino and handler


Walking shots are a bit more tricky as it’s a natural 4 beat movement. Also due to the pace of this gait, it’s hard to get the stretch as you would get in trot, canter, and gallop. Ideally, you would want to capture the stretch of the leg closest to you or the step into it, as pictured to the right. Again you want the horse to look relaxed and settled, and ideally with his/her ears forward.  Ideally, you want to have the handler fully in the shot and not blocked by the horse, ideally between 0 and 90 degrees from the front of the horse.

black horse in hand showing showing the perfect legs


Trot is a 2-beat gait so easier to grasp a rhythm. To find the best shot you need to get the triangles and parallels ideally on the right leg. This is the inside leg is one extended forward and fully straight. The horse wants to be moving forward with a good neckline, and ideally with his/her ears forward. Again you want to find the best angle to show off the horse and handler. As well as get obvious eyes open and happier-looking facial expressions. In the example to the left here, the handler is blocked therefore making the photo look messy. The horse is not fully stretched and the photo is taken on the wrong leg. This makes the horse’s hind legs look unbalanced. The tail is also blurred slightly so a higher shutter speed, as well as a narrower aperture, would fix this.

Again it is important to remember that practice does make perfect. This kind of photography takes time to get right! Be critical with your own photos after the event. Make notes on what you need to improve on next time you go out on a shoot. Also, try and get feedback from horse riders and handlers as they are the customers, and they usually know best.

Have fun, laugh, smile, and enjoy yourself!

signature briony molly

Published by Briony-Molly

Photographer & Designer. Horse Owner, Book Fanatic

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