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How to get your horse’s attention and ears up for a photoshoot? | Tips from a NSW based photographer

You see all those perfect photos on social media, and wonder how the photographers get those horses look so great? How do they have the horse’s attention? How come the ears are up in each photo?

Well, this is a little secret of the photographers I will share with you now.

It is not one trick, it is multiple tricks depending on your horse and what he/she is used to.

My number one fav, I always use first, horse sounds

Whining from a different horse always gets your horse's attention.

But from where should I get another horse whining? It’s easy, there are plenty of ways.

  • An app - called Horse sound

  • YouTube - Just write horse sounds, horse whining in the search box and here you go, choose any of those videos

  • Spotify - Search for a playlist Horse Sounds

What to pay attention to when using this method?

If you use your mobile to play the sounds:

  • make sure you have enough battery;

  • you have data or if you don’t have, download the sounds offline;

  • check where you go there is signal if you don’t have the sounds offline;

  • Your horse can get used to the sounds very fast. Try to switch it on and off in a short period of time. If you overdo it your horse won’t pay attention anymore and his/her ears won’t be nice and up.

  • Some horses (especially stallions) might not be calm when hearing a whining horse. Always do a trial round to see how your horse acts. If this method makes him/her nervous, for safety reasons don’t experiment, just go to the next option.

You can play the sounds from your phone. You can also ask a friend to do it. He/she can move to the direction you want your horse to look.  

My second favourite is a squeaking toy

There are plenty of types of toys and how to get the sounds.

  • I have a daughter, once she growed bigger, I took the squeaking part from her baby toys. It’s great as it is super small and has a big sound. It’s important that it fits into your hands while you take the photo, so you can press it and immediately release the shutter. If you don’t have a kid just order one of these squeakers from Amazon

  • And again YouTube - if you don’t want to invest a penny, you can use YouTube again.

What to pay attention to, when using this method?

If you use a toy, just don't forget it at home, or around the stable. Otherwise it is a quick sound, horses are not getting nervous but they are paying attention and their ears is up.

The always winning treats!

This is not a secret. Everyone uses treats for having their horse look or stand nicely, or when they want to take a funky photo.

How can you make your photos even more special with treats?

If you are asking someone to take photos of you and your horse, try to hide the treat with your other hand, so it is not visible on the photo. I feel it looks more magical if the treat is not in the middle of attention in the image.

Hobby horse/ Stick horse

I’m sure you saw those funny videos where a horse sees a fake horse and they are breathing heavily, checking them out. Well, having a stick horse is a bit similar. They will be very interested in who that new fella is, why he is not moving?

But what’s for sure you have grabbed your horse's attention and his/her ears definitely will be up.

There are plenty of places where to get this kind of toy. You can buy used or hand made on Etsy.

Stick with some plastic bag stripes on the top

The plastic bag is a big enemy for all horses. At least my horse would go around it with a huge distance. This is something you can make yourself at home, I don’t think you will find this in the shops, if you do let me know!

You or your friend can wave the stick wherever you’d like your horse to look. His/her attention will be immediate. You just click the shutter and there it is, your beautiful photo of your horse.


It is definitely something that your horse is not seeing very often. Once you open the umbrella it will definitely be the number one thing which grabs attention.

What to pay attention to when using this method?

Don’t scare your horse by opening it quickly. Trust me it is enough to open the umbrella slow and leave it open. You will get some time to photograph those nice ears up.


Have someone wave a jacket in the direction you would like your horse to look. Your horse won’t know what’s happening, but he will try to understand with his/her ears up.

Boom, you’ve got again that few minutes to take those amazing photos.

Plastic bottle with stones inside

This is something I don’t use for portraits. If your horse has a big paddock with a lot of space to gallop, shake the bottle and you’ve got some beautiful canter with ears and tail up.

What to pay attention to when using this method?

Make sure you have no little holes in the paddock so it is safe for your horse to run. To avoid injury it is better that your horse is a bit warmed up before doing this.

Hope this little article helped, and you've got some ideas how to make your photos perfect when you are photographing your horse.

If you prefer that someone takes a photo of your lovely four legged friend, don't hesitate to contact me HERE.

Have a great day,

Tips & tricks from a Sydney based equine photographer. Taking photos of horses and dogs across greater Sydney.


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