One of the most common questions I get asked is what do I wear for an equestrian portrait session? Ride the Sky Equine Photography clients receive a lovely guide and detailed instructions on this very subject. But, in the meantime, here are 9 secrets to styling your equestrian portrait session.


Think about Your Colors


Spring and Summer have strong green tones. So, steer clear of wearing lots of green in spring and summer portrait sessions. You might find yourself blending right into the background.

Light, airy, pastel tones look great in spring and summer. The key is to find which ones of those colors also flatter your skin tones and your horse’s coloring.  You might want to consider colors such as:

  • pale pinks
  • light grays
  • lilac/lavender
  • light blues


If you are considering wearing jeans or jean shorts, think about wearing black. Black is more complimentary to the light and airy colors of spring. 

For fall and winter, remember that the foliage will be the lovely tones of autumn – gold, red, brown, and orange. You want to dress to compliment those colors, not clash.

Darker colors will work better. For fall and winter, consider colors such as:

  • Navy and darker blues
  • hunter greens
  • Burgundy and deeper reds
  • Golds


Keep in mind though that you want to wear clothing that compliments your skin, hair, and eye colors… and your horse.

If you want information on specific colors that will look best on you, read this. Or search google for a quiz on Autumn, Spring, Summer, and Winter colors and find those that work best for you.

girl on beach with thoroughbred horse


Dress for the Season


When it comes to styling your equestrian portrait session, the season is going to be a big factor.  Especially if you live someplace that has dramatic temperature shifts.

Is your session going to be in 100-degree heat and humidity? Is it going to be snowing?

If it’s going to be super hot, this isn’t the time for fall boots and extra layers. 

We’re in the south. We melt. 

If it’s going to be snowing, it might be the perfect time to add a lovely scarf or stocking cap, or a cute jacket.


Pick More Than One Outfit


Want to wear more than one outfit during your equestrian portrait session? I recommend choosing a few outfits.

A casual outfit and a dressy outfit. Or a riding outfit and a formal dress. Something that shows the different sides of your personality.

Have some ideas in mind but don’t know what is going to photograph well? Ask me!


Complement, Don’t Clash



It’s hard enough to dress in clothes that are the right color. But now we need to factor in your horse’s coloring too? And his or her accessories?

Of course we do!

After all, we are styling your equestrian portrait session for you AND your horse. 

When prepping styling your equine portrait session, remember that you want to stand out, not blend.

So as a general rule, choose a lighter or brighter color to wear if you have a darker horse.

And choose a darker color if you have a lighter-colored horse.

If your horse is a paint, pinto, or appaloosa, stick with a solid color. Too many patterns are confusing to the eye. Keep it simple!

If you have a palomino or buckskin horse, take a look at the opposite side of the color wheel for inspiration. Blues and purples are lovely in combination with gold.

Still, wondering what to do? Check out the Ride the Sky Pinterest Boards for inspiration.



If your horse is a paint, pinto, or appaloosa, stick with a solid color. Too many patterns are confusing to the eye.

Keep it simple!


Patterns, Textures, and Layers


Stay away from super busy patterns.

And, as I mentioned early in this post, if your horse already has a pattern, stick to solid colors.

Very fine plaid or stripes are easily distorted on camera. If you choose to wear a pattern, consider using the pattern on one part of the outfit.

Textures and layers can add depth to an outfit.  It can add interest to the human eye.

And as an added bonus, it can help you stay warm when it’s cold outside.

It is also an easy way to add a pop of color.


Black background Woman and Horse Photography


Keep the Accessories Simple


Here’s the thing about accessorizing an equestrian session.

You have to remember that you are working with a horse.

Who likes to play with things with his mouth.  And sniff things.

Who may be wearing his own accessories – such as a halter or bridle.

Make sure that your accessories aren’t going to get tangled up with your horse if you are going in for a smooch or a snuggle.

In other words, keep your accessories simple.


Truth Bomb:


The last thing you want is to have your large hoop earring get tangled up with your horse’s bridle…right as he decides to take a step backward.

In general, earrings and necklaces should be small and simple.

The last thing you want is to have your large hoop earring get tangled up with your horse’s bridle…right as he decides to take a step backward.

I advise against bracelets and watches unless it has special significance as it can be distracting in close-up shots.

In fall and winter, consider losing the jewelry and opt for scarves and hats instead. They can help keep you warm and they can add a pop of color or texture.

And lastly, belts. Belts can help define your waist and take your outfit up a notch. Especially if it’s a really great belt!


Heels, Wedges, Boots…



Shoes are super important to consider when you are around horses. For safety, I will always recommend closed-toe shoes.

And, if you are going to be riding with stirrups, I’m always going to recommend a heeled boot.

If you are wearing a full-length skirt or dress, then your shoes don’t matter.

Safety first. No one is going to see those closed-toed shoes hiding under there.

But, I understand that sometimes you think your open shoes would go better with your outfit.

In this case, I recommend you bring a horse friend with you to your session. One who can help handle the horse so that we don’t have to worry about toes getting stepped on.

If you want to wear heels for part of your session, make sure to let me know in advance.

We may need to change the location – no fields where your heels are sinking in the dirt.

Or maybe you need to only wear them for the pictures and wear boots the rest of the time.

Either way, heels need a plan.

women posed with her horse wearing complimentary colors<br />

Hair and Makeup


Hair and makeup are such personal preferences.

But whatever you do, it should complement your outfit, personality, and style. For your session, you should look like the best version of yourself.

The best option for hair and makeup for styling your equestrian portrait session is to have it professionally done. But this is not always an option. And, it does add to the cost.

If you are confident with makeup, feel free to do your own. Here are some tips from a professional makeup artist that might help you.

If you are going with a casual outfit, choose a simple hairstyle and makeup.

A more dramatic outfit might need a more dramatic hair and makeup look.

If this isn’t something you feel comfortable doing, Ride the Sky works with a hair and makeup artist in the Chattanooga area that can help you.

The important thing is that you don’t want to look back on these images and think they are super dated. Or that you have some weird hairstyle that was only on-trend for a month. Classic and timeless looks never go out of style.

Make sure to try out your hair and makeup in advance of your equine portrait session. That way if you need to make adjustments, you have the time to do so.


Truth Bomb:


Now’s not the time for a Flock of Seagulls hairstyle.

Classic and timeless never go out of style.

Need More Inspiration


If you are still looking for some inspiration for styling your equine portrait session, check out the Ride the Sky Pinterest boards.

So before you go digging in your closet trying to find things that work, give that a look and get some inspiration. 

Additionally, here are a few other blog posts that you might find of interest:

How to Style your Equestrian Senior Portraits – And Make you AND your horse look good!

6 Tips for Planning your Outfits for your Equestrian Senior Portraits



Need More Help Styling your Equestrian Portrait Session


Keep it simple.

After all, you are spending all this money to capture the beauty of your horse and your bond. 

The last thing you want is for people to be so busy looking at your outfit that they forget your horse is there.

I hope that these tips gave you a bit of a behind-the-scenes look when it comes to styling your equine portrait session. I hope you will feel more prepared for your big day in front of the camera with your horse.

Not on the schedule yet for your personal portrait session with your horse? Get in touch here.

Betsy Bird of Ride the Sky Equine Photography spends her days doing insane things to make horses look at her. Clearly, she’s desperate for attention. Outside of acting like a total weirdo, she invests time and energy into growing her business, hanging with her favorite dog, Nitro, dealing with her teenagers’ angst, and planning her next big wheels-up adventure. Betsy is a Certified Professional Photographer (CPP) with the organization Professional Photographers of America (PPA). The CPP designation is held by fewer than 2,500 photographers nationwide and is a hallmark of consistency, technical skill, artistry, and professionalism. Betsy specializes in creating storytelling magic for horse girls of all ages. In other words, she enjoys working with fun-spirited clients who need horse portrait, equestrian senior, and equestrian brand photography. She even throws in some dogs for variety because what true horse girl doesn’t love a great pup too. Based in Chattanooga, TN, Ride the Sky Equine Photography works on location in Tennessee, North Georgia, and beyond.

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