Lies, Damned Lies, and Horse Photographs

By Ambar

Posted on August 28th, 2010 in General, USA

We had a brisk discussion in the comments of an earlier posting about whether the leg faults apparent in the photograph were actually characteristic of the subject. While we did touch on age and injury, I wanted to point out another way in which photos can misrepresent a horse. Herewith, two photos of a nine-year-old Davenport stallion, HF Shaton (Wotan x Chiffon CF, Hamdani Simri):

Same photographer (Anita Enander), same equipment, taken within a minute of each other. But see how a tiny change in the viewing angle stretches out the middle of the body, narrows the neck and shortens the hip? The effect can be even more exaggerated with the wide-angle lens in consumer cameras.

This is not to say that we should not discuss or judge horses from photographs, but a healthy awareness of the limitations of the medium helps. How else can we reconcile *Wadduda’s reputation as a great beauty with the rather indifferent images we have of her?

4 Responses to “Lies, Damned Lies, and Horse Photographs”

  1. Well a lot depends on the positioning of the camera, whether or not its precisely equidistant from front to back in relation of the horses body length or not. Angled from the front the camera will exagerate the horses neck. Thus the first shot makes it appear that Shaton has a Ewe neck, when in fact his neck is set up high enough in his shoulder bed-but his spinal curve where the vertebra rises up to his neck is most likely shorter and more abrupt than the scalenus junction would be in a horse with an extremely high set neck. Such conformation lends itself to quick repeat jumps such as those encountered when a three day event rider takes a bounce jump.
    The camera angle business is the reason why conformation expert Deb Bennett teaches her students to place colored sticky dots at the horses bone junctions. By comparing the distance from dot to dot you can easily if a horses neck is set high enough or if their hip is sufficiently long.
    Best wishes
    Bruce Peek

  2. Yes1 Major camera distortions. Some of my favorite illustrations of such are the lifetime photos of Antez and Hanad.

    By the way, Deb Bennett has some interesting thought on Bucked Knees (or Buckled knees as she calls them.)

    AnitaW

  3. An understanding of horses’ conformation in terms of nature ie themselves… rather than wishing idealisms on them all the time can help as well.

    I agree, after taking photos of my own Arabians and other horses to observe conformation details (aside of real life) and at times, a single leg and/or body movement can alter a stance.

  4. Of the two pictures, I like the tope one of Shaton; it doesn’t make his neck look as good as the bottom photo does– but it does give a hint of how much better his hind end is than most WAHO Show horses. The top picture really indicates how much better he’ll be able to tuck his pelvis and lift his back for true collection.
    best wishes
    Bruce Peek

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