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  • Writer's pictureKathy Troxler

Equine Expressionists and Ear Wenches

Originally posted 2012

Equine Expressionist? Ear Wench? Yes, this is really a job description and no, not just anybody can do it! What exactly is "it"? Focusing a horses attention for a photo. And no, not just anyone can "get ears" correctly! You see people all the time doing it wrong. You know what I mean! A lovely horse and rider combo setting up for a photo to commemorate a special moment and a herd of well intended people ALL attempting to get the horses attention. It's a skill and the best of the expressionists are true horsemen! Someone that has a thorough understanding of how horses perceive the world and can read horse body language to the degree that they know exactly how to get a confident look from a shy horse and an inquisitive one from a bored one. Someone that knows the difference between taking a show win photo of a seasoned veteran and an anxious baby horse wearing their first set of roses.

And, as in the case of our friend, Mary Leadley Janson, all of the above plus nerves of steel capable of staring down the biggest trotting English horse as they come down the rail on their victory lap, enabling a photographer to literally freeze, not a moment, but THE moment in time- perfect stride, nostrils flared, ribbons flying and looking through the bridle!

Each has an arsenal of tools used to focus the horses attention, and it all depends upon the horse, handler and situation as to which tool is the right one at that moment.

The photo above is actually an out-take from a photo shoot that Mike did in 2012. We use reflectors 2 ways. One way it can be used is to focus a horses attention. Pop this baby open at a distance from the horse and the most blase of personalities will usually give it a look. A drama queen may completely freak out or in the case of Jett, it will intrigue him. But the other use, and the one for which a reflector like this is designed, is to focus not attention but light! This shot was from the end of the session and we were curious as to exactly how curious (and brave!) Jet was. As it turned out, what Mike got was a couple of great photos that show how light, and bouncing it, can either make or break a photo. Even a horse photo!

For the examples of how the slightest change in angle can affect the end result, click on the photo and it will lead you to the blog post on Mike's TroxlerMultiMedia site!

Next up on this topic? Big trotting horses? Challenging Colors? We shall see! Cheers! Kathy

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