It’s hot out and the horses don’t really want to run around, I don’t blame them as I don’t want to either. My horse photo shoots of course consist of mostly running around. That includes the horses, myself, the horse owners and my lovely assistants. We all try to keep the horse moving so I can get incredible action photos of the horse.
But how do horses handle the heat?
Many factors determine a horse’s resistance to overheating and exhaustion. How accustomed is he to his environment? Horses living where it is warm most of the year can tolerate heat better than horses who live in regions with seasonal extremes. Is he healthy and fit? The heart, blood vessels and lungs of a fit horse are better equipped to handle larger heat loads. Anyone involved with horses should know what to look for and what to do to keep a horse from overheating.
Be sure to keep lots of water available to your horse (and yourself) at all times.
After a heavy workout, it can be a good idea to give your horse a quick “shower.” or after a photo shoot!
Fly sheets are a great way to keep those pesky bugs away while providing a small heat block for your horse.
If you are planning to show this summer, don’t use your horse as a “couch.”
How Horse Photographers Handle the Heat
It’s reaching 100 degrees here in Northern Arizona- yes it’s a dry heat but it’s still insanely hot. I’ve had several horse photo shoots that have needed rescheduling due to the high temps. When I am out there shooting I may wear a cooling towel around my neck, of course drink a lot of water and wear a hat (especially a wet hat) and sunscreen. The air conditioning in my car is lovely when I’m done and a cold shower when I get home is the best! Even if I wake early to do a 7am shoot it is reaching 90+ by 8am. Arizona enjoys monsoons in the summer, the storm clouds build and by late afternoon we get (hopefully) a deluge of rain and thunderstorms. Of course, I can’t really shoot in pouring rain either but I do appreciate when there’s a break in the rain and the temps drop.
The horses seem to enjoy that time as well. Monsoons come rolling in and the downpour mixes with the horse’s response of now being willing to run around and play with one another. When the wind picks up then they might feel like moving their feet or break out into a trot or even gallop if the lightning and thunder kick in. I make sure that I am ready with a clean lens, sure footing for any direction and the right camera settings. It’s also well worth it for these laid back summer evenings in the monsoon season where I get to hang out in the pasture afterwards with the horses. I bring home my photos and enjoy looking through them to see if anything sparks me to create with them for some new photos or cards that I might suddenly feel would be interesting, it’s part of the appeal to me about this time of midsummer and one of the only things that takes me out to be in the summertime heat. The possibility of some rain and all that it brings moves me outdoors. I may do this a few times during the monsoons just to keep me connected and to keep the creativity moving for me.
Jody Miller is a professional photographer specializing in Horse Photography, Equine Photography, and Equestrian photography. Her work can be viewed online here in her gallery section, and she is also featured at these Arizona Galleries: Van Gogh’s Ear Gallery on Whiskey Row in Prescott, AZ and Coops Coffee House at Talking Rock Ranch. Arizona Downs OTB Room offers few of my Canvas work and several images are also available at The Phippen Western Art Museum