A well-shot video can be a valuable tool for horse owners, whether it’s for a sale video or virtual lesson. Capturing quality footage means making sure you have the right equipment and mindset.

solo shot recording horseman ride
John Mannebach of Wichita, Kansas, uses a SoloShot to record his ride, then sends it to horseman Al Dunning for a virtual lesson. The camera uses a GPS armband, which Mannebach wears, to track his horse. Photo courtesy of John Mannebach

A video can show the best or worst parts of your ride and a horse. After a show, it’s helpful to have clips from your ride to analyze what went right or wrong. Having a friend record your lesson, a roping run, or a spin around the barrels, gives you the ability to mark progress and compare past performances.

If you’re selling your horse, you’ll want to send pictures and video. A well-planned video can effectively show the full potential of your horse to the potential buyer.

Photographer and videographer Lee Schneider of Fort Worth, Texas, has been the man behind the lens at countless horse shows, jackpots, rodeos, concerts and photo shoots.

To create a good video, Schneider recommends the following:

1. Pick a clutter-free location. Schneider says choosing a clean background will make your horse stand out. It also makes reviewing your ride easier for a coach if the video is being used for a virtual lesson.

“Put the sun at the cameraperson’s back so the horse and rider are well-lit,” he says. Take anything extra out of the arena that could distract, like tractors or arena drags.”

Cowgirl taking video of girl on horse cell phone
When recording a ride with a smartphone, always shoot horizontal. Photo by Ross Hecox

2. Shoot horizontal. “If you’re using a cell phone to record, turn the phone horizontal,” says Schneider. He says shooting vertical is the No. 1 mistake he sees people doing. Shooting with the phone up and down makes it more difficult to keep the horse in the frame.

Although the camera quality in cellphones has improved leaps and bounds, it requires a second person to help record. Or, if you jerry-rigged the phone to a fence post, there is still a chance you’ll ride out of frame and negate the shot.

However, a new product called the SoloShot automatically follows the rider, who is wearing a GPS tracker on their arm. The camera follows the action up to 600 feet away (that is almost two football fields) and shoots high-quality, 1080p resolution.

“You can be all by yourself and record your ride, whether you’re working a flag or running barrels. You could use it for anything” Schneider says.

cowboy recording rodeo cell phone
Bull rider Dylan Hice Vick records the bareback riding at the Grand National Livestock Expo, Horse Show and Rodeo at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. Photo by Katie Frank

3. Stabilize the shot. Schneider says when he was getting started shooting, the best advice he heard when it comes to shooting sports and action-type videos is to “make the camera invisible.”

“If the camera is bouncing around or making jerky moves, it takes your focus off the subject,” he explains.

He says to shoot in a way that is not jarring to the viewer and to video in a way that makes whoever is watching forget about the camera. He says to avoid tinkering with zooming in and out and keep the camera as steady as possible.

To do this, he says to invest in a tripod for a camera, which allows the cameraperson to pan smoothly and track the rider. For smartphones, a gimbal stabilizes the video and provides balanced support for a smooth shot. It reduces shaky movement and levels the frame.

smartphone gimbal
Professional photographer Lee Schneider uses a gimbal to stabilize footage he captures with his smartphone. Photo by Lee Schneider

In a pinch, Schneider says the best way to get stable footage is to lean against a wall or another sturdy object, brace your elbows against your chest, and hold your camera out in front. To pan, rotate your hips side to side, keeping your knees bent.

“Don’t use your wrists or arms, keep those steady,” he says. “Pivot your body around to keep up with the action.

“Take a little extra time to clean things up, including the horse and your tack, and pay attention to the details when shooting,” he says.

Read more about online coaching help in the November 2018 issue of Western Horseman.

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