Portrait session prep tips: what should your horse wear?

A common question I get from my clients is "What do I put on my horse for my portrait session?" Many people like to use their horse's bridle for that traditional look, however it is not your only option. I also offer a photography halter, which is a simple rope halter that I will edit out of images for your finished portraits. Read on for all of your choices as well as some tips for preparing your horse for your portrait session. Undecided on which look you'd prefer? No problem, we can split your session between more than one option!

Black horse wearing a bridle black background portrait
black horse with blaze not wearing a bridle black background portrait


The timeless and classic look are what makes using a bridle for your black background session so popular. I recommend cleaning and oiling your bridle, as well as removing the reins prior to the start of the session and clipping a leather lead line with a chain to one side of the bit (I always bring an extra lead with me if you don't own one). If you are using a double bridle or shanked bit you can leave the reins on.

Dapple gray warmblood horse wearing a hunter bridle, black background portrait

Photography Halter

Highlight your horse's features and personality by going simple and using no bridle. The photography halter I use can easily be removed during the editing process if you'd like the look of a naked face. The halter stays secure and is very strong; you can even lunge a horse with it!

Black horse wearing a photography halter, equine portrait session prep tips

Holiday Wreath Sessions

For my holiday wreath black background sessions, I generally opt for the photography halter for a less busy look, however it is totally up to you if you want to use it or a bridle.

Dapple gray horse wearing Christmas wreath, holiday horse black background portraits

Leather Halter

Another option is to use a nice leather halter for your session, which is great for when you have a custom nameplate. As with a bridle, be sure to clean and oil your halter so both it and your horse shine in your portraits!

Bay warmblood wearing leather halter, how to prepare for your portrait session