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Sale Horse Video Quick Tips

Shortest snippet of longe line in sale horse video history!

Here are 10 tips for owners to improve sale horse videos using simple procedural steps accomplished at little or no cost.

You will also enjoy putting together (for free) your sale horse information using (even without submitting it) the SALE HORSE SUBMITTAL FORM which does not require submittal in order to use the "Preview" button to generate the perfect report for copy/paste into your own documents or email.

Since horse videotaping is a specialty, professional videographers will also find these tips (and the submittal form) useful.

You may make a single copy of these tips for your own use as long as it carries the Equipoise® logo as it appears above.

These tips have been used as part of original research for magazine articles about effective sale horse videos.

Videos you make might be used to ask a buyer to travel several hours by car (or air) in order to try a horse that will be purchased for thousands of dollars.

This is no small request, so all these tips are important (even if some may take a little time and effort), because the goal is to produce a tape that fully and accurately represents your horse.

The SALE HORSE SUBMITTAL FORM is indispensable for assembling companion information to provide with your video.

Below are the tips.

1.) Use a tripod

Please... please use a tripod! Television cop shows and suspense thrillers use rough hand-held shots (with a lot of camera motion) to create tension in a scene. Even a slight movement of the camera can give a scene an unsettled feeling. You don't want tension to be part of someone's first impression of your prized horse. This tip is given first—even though it is the only one that may cost you some money. It is also one of the simplest to implement and may improve the quality of your videos more than all the following tips combined. If you do not have a tripod you are strongly urged to get one and use it for your sale horse videos.

Don't be swayed by talk of in-camera-motion-control. It works well enough, but it is not designed to handle the type of camera motion you will encounter filming horses. Motion control in consumer cameras is for handling situations such as jittery hands filming a child's birthday party across the kitchen table. Filming a horse across an outdoor arena is a completely different matter.

Movement of the camera lens by a quarter-inch can easily translate into a movement of twenty feet at the horse's location. Worse still is the fact it takes much less than a quarter inch hand movement to move a camera lens that far. So in-camera-motion-control is good for some things, but it is not much help for horse videos—especially when using your zoom settings (an important technique explained later).

The tripod should be equipped with a "fluid head" mount (not the kind used for still cameras), and it should be as good as you can afford. It is an essential tool. The tripods Equipoise use cost over $300.00 (we are absolutely rabid about the quality of our tapes), but it is possible to get an adequate tripod for well under $100.00. Try some at your local video store looking for one that you can use comfortably with your camera. Used ones are always an option because plenty of people buy good tripods and then use them very little afterwards. In general a heavier tripod is better because it gives the solid foundation needed for smooth, controlled movement. Also make sure the camera mount can move through all angles easily and is stable enough with your camera attached to be left at rest without slipping. Getting really crisp close-ups of a performing sport horse is a lot like micro-surgery. Use a good tool.

2.) No Reds

Red easily flares into the colors next to it on videotape. A smart red wrap can become a puffy red mass. The fuzziness gets dramatically worse on a copy, and copies are what buyers usually see. The easiest way to take care of the problem is to do it the way big time television broadcasters do it: they don't let reds get into scenes. We know you've got lots of red ribbons; so, to see what we mean, take one and put it by your TV while you watch a favorite show. You'll notice that what you've always seen as red is really a very brown off-red. Don't allow reds to get in your shots--no red wraps, no red shirts, no red.

3.) No Backlighting

Are you aware of those windows that run the entire length of indoor rings? Big trouble! When your camera's light meter sees the light coming through them it will adjust to compensate and darken the rest of the scene. Keep light sources such as these windows, open doors and the sun at your back as much as possible. At the very least get the light to your side. If you can't get in a good position, minimize the effect of backlight by framing your shot close to the horse. Again and again Equipoise has seen a perfectly good performance fade into shadow when simply zooming a little closer would have cut out the offending background light. Remember: If you can see a background light source through the camera; it is light meter can too.

4.) Keep Close to the Horse

Breathtaking mountain and forest views may be aesthetically pleasing but don't get carried away with them. One of the most common errors Equipoise sees is the overuse of wide-angle shots. Minimize your use of panoramic views that include the whole county (and your state-of-the-art ring) while reducing the horse to a small percentage of the total picture. Buyers like to see where a horse lives to know how it is being taken care of, but the purpose of your video is to sell the horse--not the place where it is being taped. Your eye has significantly more sensitivity and clarity than video tape. What you see in person is much more alive and informative than what will be on the tape. It is especially true for multiple generation tapes. Anticipate this and zoom in as close as you can so the details will survive.

Filming based on close-ups will present a quandary for some horse owners. The type of video that is good for selling a horse is not necessarily what a rider would want for a keepsake of their performance. It takes a steady hand and concentration to keep close to the horse. It is risky business and fraught with the danger of totally losing a great jump, two-tempi, slide or whatever. Two cameras filming at once makes it possible to get both close and mid-range shots at the same time. Horse shows often provide video services which can add to your own efforts--if you have access to editing equipment. Equipoise can help because top quality video editing is included as part of our sales referral service at no extra charge.

5.) Keep Your Feet on the Ground.

It is a mistake to think a better shot can be taken from a bleacher or a raised mound. From higher angles the view is much less expressive of the horses true height, conformation and movement than a shot from the ground at eye level. You can view a full course unobstructed from above (for hunters, jumpers, etc.), but too much of the horse's character is lost. High angles are only useful if you have two or more cameras and can shift between high angle overviews and intimate ground level shots in the final editing.

When you have to compromise between unobstructed versus intimate views you must plan ahead. First, learn the course just as if you were going to be riding (or driving). Then walk around until you find the largest number of clear shots. One spot will always ring true when you: circle the field, keep the sun behind you and mentally ride the course. Try several positions, but keep in mind that something is invariably going to be omitted. The sweet spot is there; you can find it, and it is usually away from the crowd in the bleachers.

6.) Move Around

A good synonym for "boring" is "sameness." Your videos will be more interesting if you use several different filming positions and/or shooting locations. If you are shooting a performance in a ring, move your camera to one end, the middle, a corner, a different corner. Instead of just shooting from the outside of the ring, get inside and let the horse and rider perform around you. Expand on this idea and put the horse in several locations. A few shots from the paddock, some in the barn, some on level ground without tack and a few shots from a show can be combined to make a very interesting video.

Be very careful if you are in a performance arena. Your eye is at the viewfinder and so you can not be aware of everything around you. Trouble can happen before you know it! Have someone oversee the filming and keep you informed. The rider can not help because they will be focused on their own task. Try YELLOW HARD HATS... that's how you can spot Equipoise videographers and crews. Those yellow hats make them more visible, easier to avoid and therefore safer.

7.) Practice, Practice, Practice!

Once you've found your spot for filming, then practice the camera moves you anticipate using. Practice the round (or test, etc.) before the performance you want begins. You can do it without actually recording to tape. Check how much you will have to swivel the camera. Position the tripod legs out of your way, and if you can't get them out of the way; practice stepping over them. Learn to feel where they are and prepare a little dance movement to make it smooth.

Plan all camera pans so you begin with your body at its most off balance or twisted position. As you follow the action you will then naturally come into balance and unwind to an even and upright stance. If you are filming at a show, practice on the other competitors.

8.) Keep your eye to the camera

One of the simplest but most savvy tricks is to keep your eye to the camera's viewfinder. If you've found your spot, and have someone on the look-out, and have choreographed your movements, it will not be too difficult to remain focused on the action through the lens. At first you might have a tendency to look up to follow the horse; but once you become accustomed to the pace and flow, you will find the in-camera view is the most valuable. After all, only what is in the viewfinder will end up on the tape. If you look away you've missed it. A little discipline and self-control in this matter goes a long way. Focus, concentrate, flow!

9.) Plan the Shoot

Good planning is the idea behind all the tips given here. Think ahead, get set up, and practice before you tape. Planning, however, is a broader subject than merely thinking through the mechanics of filming. You must decide "what" to show on the tape as well. What you need to show depends on the sport the horse is involved in, but here are some fundamentals.

Although each equestrian sport presents its own demands, the basics of all of them follow the simple physical laws of objects in motion and the forces that control them. The bottom line requirement for a good sales video in any horse sport is to show these basics (both close and from a little distance). Start from the ground up and show the horse's hooves, legs, hindquarters, forequarters, neck and head. Show all of these elements at a stand, walk, trot and canter. While each sport may place different values and demands on the physical development in each area, the effects of gravity on bone and muscle are the same for all, and buyers want to see it.

Show the horse without tack moving across the field of view (left/right), away from the camera, toward the camera and at angles to the camera--all on firm (but not hard) level ground. Show it at the walk, trot and canter. Solid, balanced movement is a concern for all sports.

If you are filming your horse you probably already know the objectives of your sport and have a good idea what desirable traits a buyer will be looking to find. If you don't know please get an expert to help. An unstudied and haphazard tape has little chance of attracting a buyer.

Of course, it is sometimes impractical to get shots of a horse except under tack. Sometimes you will not have total control of the situation. This is not necessarily a tragedy. It is always a challenge for Equipoise videographers to get those great shots. Making a good horse tape is more like electronic news gathering than putting together a film in a studio. The actors haven't always read the script.

It is ok to miss some of your shots as long as you keep in mind the main goals. For example, if you can't arrange for a horse to be jogged directly toward you, get that movement during the hack. Get the shot in any way you can. Maybe you can get a great shot of the hoof and pastern angle as the horse leaves the ring—if you didn't get it outside the barn. Just don't hold yourself to a static formula. The video tape you make should be entertaining as well as technically informative. Someone who has looked at a dozen or so home videos might appreciate a break in the routine--as long as all the necessary information is there.

Allow the horse's faults and problems to be seen. That's right, I said allow the faults to be seen. You certainly don't want someone to show up expecting a horse you can't show them. If there are some problems with your horse it isn't the end of the world, or the sale. Every serious buyer knows that the perfect horse is yet to be found; and, if it ever was found, nobody could afford it anyway... or it wouldn't be for sale. Honesty is the best policy—if only for the time it will save you.

10.) Document the Process

Keep notes. Write down what you plan to do. Make lists of what you need to bring with you. Maintain lists and a photo journal of your horse's awards and achievements. Keep equipment lists, shot lists, edit lists, production crew lists, procedure lists, and content check-lists for the final tape. List your manuals, notes and appointments. Make master lists to handle subordinate lists. You will know you are getting close to what is needed when your main concern becomes handling the list of your lists.

Since it is always free (and also private until you click Submit), start with the SALE HORSE SUBMITTAL FORM.

11.) Towel and Sunglasses: bonus tip

The best time to film is during mid-morning or mid-afternoon under a light cloud cover. This softens the lighting and avoids harsh contrasts which can cause detail to be lost in the dark areas (such as the flank of a black Hanoverian) or blow out the details in the light areas (such as the flank of a white Lipizzaner).

However, sometimes working around a busy show schedule, will mean you have to film in direct sunlight. Filming in bright sunlight, especially in the Southern United States, presents a very aggravating situation. Following a horse with the camera almost always puts the sun in your eyes at some point. To keep from jarring the camera with your body's movement it is advisable to look through the viewfinder without letting it touch your cheek, but this allows a space between your eye and camera that light can come through. Using this "no-contact" approach can make it hard to see viewfinders clearly in strong daylight, and it is impossible to see anything when the sun flashes directly onto the eyepiece. Equipoise videographers carry a black towel as standard gear. They can always drop it over their head when the sun is too strong.

Sunglasses are also standard gear (better put them on a list). In the southern sun you can be virtually blind to the viewfinder without them. Here our yellow hard hats serve a dual purpose as they: 1) shield the eye from light that would come over the top of the glasses, 2) make the camera operator more visible and therefore safer.

12.) Extra Bonus: bonus tip (2011)

Even if you decide not to submit your sale horse to the database, be sure to organize information about it prior to filming by using the new "Preview" function of the enhanced SALE HORSE SUBMITTAL FORM.

It will provide you an outline of performance aspects that you want to make sure is shown in your video.

Much effort went into developing the form, and it will step you through questions that buyers are likely to ask, so you should take full advantage of it.

By the time you've presented your horse to three buyers, you will probably have been asked every question on the form, so get the information together before hand.

So that's it for the tips. Now get out there and make some great sale horse videos.

Best of luck with your sport, your horse and your videos!


These tips were first published in 1993 and are a part of Internet history. They remain good and useful information to this day. Much gratitude to everyone who has found them useful and taken the time to thank me.  - Bob Fugett

Jules Nyssan presenting a dressage prospect to Equipoise near Southern Pines, NC. Extension to die for! Gem Twist ridden by Leslie Howard, 1993 Autumn Classic, Port Jervis, NY--an early Equipoise sponsorship. It's not easy being judged! Obviously an equitation competition. The first Equipoise production studio circa 1993.


this page last updated: 12/06/2018 12:25:49 PM

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