I sat down and had a little chat with freelance groom, Becka James, about her top grooming tips ahead of your shoot. It's so important to pay attention to detail and ensure your horse is looking it's best:
If you’re looking for the best results from your photoshoot, you’ve got to put in a little bit of work to get there! Being a freelance groom I’ve picked up a few pointers which can help, not just before your shoot, but also for before a show.
I LOVE clipping but sometimes, with a freshly clipped horse, you can see a few what we call ‘tram lines.’ These occur when the tension on the clippers are not quite correct and different pressure on the skin leaves a slightly closer clip than perhaps another area. They grow out usually within a few days and that’s why when booking a photoshoot, if you’re looking to have your horse clipped you should time it a week or two before, just to be sure there is no chance of noticing these. The camera picks up these tiny details!
Once you’ve clipped I suggest giving your horse a ‘hot cloth’. Simply boil some water and mix in cold to make it lukewarm. I then get a tea towel or a soft body brush and wipe over the clipped area. This lifts any scurfy or dandruff from the coat and once dried leaves your horse looking super shiny.
Every horse's mane and tail is different: from length to thickness, pulled to natural and of course colour! Every person also has their own preference on what they like their horses mane to look like. For your photoshoot you should ensure, no matter what your preference is, that your horse’s mane and tail are thoroughly brushed through to make sure there are no knots or snags in them. Personally, I love a pulled tail on my horses!
If plaiting for your shoot giving them a wash a few days before will not only help the plaits to stay in place but will have no scurf in the bed of the mane which is highlighted when plaited.
To get the best shine on your horses coat is easy, even if they’re not clipped. In the summer it’s obviously easier to give them a nice bath to make sure that any poo stains are removed, mud or whatever your horse likes to lay in! again, with each horse having very different coats there are a few sneaky tricks for colours I have learnt along the years.
Black horses on some photos tend to look dull in their coat as dust really sticks to it. This can be removed by using a stiff dandy brush to bring the scurf to the surface, followed by a flicker brush to swipe off the remaining dust.
Bays / Chestnuts are slightly easier on the dust side but do show some poo Stains… these you can get away without bathing as tend to come off with some brushing over with a dandy brush. To get a good shine on these coats you can give them a spray over with ‘’show sheen’’ which if you leave for a few minutes then I find giving the coat a once over gets rid of any sticky residue / wet looking patches.
Greys… now greys are a whole other story on getting a good looking coat for a photoshoot.. dark greys hide a lot more than lighter grey – white coated horses. The poo stains are inevitable! Over the years I have found that the best way to get a grey looking grey rather than green is the following steps:
Give the area in question a warm soaking with water
Using a small splodge of Fairy Liquid and a stiff brush and A LOT of elbow grease, work in to the stain. Blue shampoo also accentuates the white coat colour.
Repeat if needed
Now for the stains that are very stubborn I have found that if you dilute a small amount of Vanish powder into a small bucket of WARM water, and apply to the stained area and leave for 1 minute, rinse thoroughly and repeat if needed the stain will come off.
When Rose does her famous ‘Black Background’ shots she always gets a fab close up of your horses face… now nobody wants a dirty nose or grubby eyes on these shots. 99p packs of baby wipes are a MUST in my grooming kit they come in handy making sure you can wipe your horse’s nose free of any mud or leftover food. You also can use them on the eyes.
Some of my favourite products to use when getting my horses ready for a shoot or a competition, are the below:
Supreme products; their show white paste is amazing!
NAF; Skin so soft is fab for lifting the dirt on their coat during a bath
Baby wipes; any supermarket brand will do!
NAF; mane and tail
Becka is a freelance groom covering Hampshire, Berkshire and other surrounding counties. She offers holiday cover, clipping, grooming and riding.
A massive thank you to Becka - go and give her a follow!