Capture Every Stride
In my mind’s eye, I look like Charlotte Dujardin in the dressage arena, and Beezie Madden when I’m showjumping. Sadly, when a friend filmed me riding, the results quickly proved how wrong I was—and made me realize just how useful it can be to film yourself riding.
Filming yourself on horseback isn’t always easy, but it is possible. With a few tips, you’ll have quality footage to work with in no time. Whether you’re using a smartphone, or the best horse camera, these tips will improve your videos, provide insights into your performance, and enable you to share the results with friends, instructors, or potential buyers.
Bottom line: Understanding where you are starting from lets you improve quicker.
Why Film Your Ride?
There are just as many reasons to film your ride as there are ways to do it. Maybe you want to create a vlog, share your riding adventures on social media, or simply have a record of some of your best experiences in the saddle.
It has other practical benefits too—like helping you analyze your horse’s movement and identify problems, either in your horse or in your riding.
Remember: Filming yourself riding isn’t about looking good. It has more to do with helping to identify where to focus to continuously improve!
Analyze Your Performance
Filming your ride can give you valuable insights into exactly what’s going on when you’re in the saddle:
- Are your feet too far forward
- Were your hands too high, or
- Are you holding your breath and tensing up before the take-off?
- Even if no one except you ever sets eyes on your video, it can be a great way to analyze your performance and improve your riding.
If you’re brave enough to have someone else scrutinize your riding videos, you could also share them with your trainer for their insights and advice.
Virtual lessons and online coaching are increasingly becoming more convenient and affordable ways to get expert advice on your riding.
You can either work together in real-time, with the instructor watching you and advising you through a microphone as you ride, or you can send a video of your training session for them to assess and provide feedback on.
Being able to film yourself riding means access to top-class trainers that may not be otherwise available in your geographic area, opening doors to a whole new world of riding.
Creating a Sales Video
Selling a horse is never easy, especially when it’s one that you deeply love and want to place in its next perfect home.
A good sales video can catch the eye of the right person and highlight your horse’s qualities.
It gives the potential buyer more insights into your horse and its behavior than a simple photograph, meaning you’re more likely to find the right home for your beloved mount.
Social Media Sharing
These days, it feels as though if it doesn’t happen on social media, it doesn’t happen at all!
Sharing your riding experiences online is a great way to connect with other like-minded horse riders and build an online community.
You can share shots from a horse-riding helmet camera, highlights of your most recent competition, or a series of videos showing your progress.
Lights, Camera, Action
There are many ways to film yourself riding, but all of them involve some kind of camera and light.
You can use a helmet camera to film where you’re going, or film the friends you’re riding with, or a Nest Cam to keep an eye on your pregnant mare, but neither is the right tool when it comes to filming a lesson, competition, or training session.
You could get a friend to help out and do the filming for you, but even that often proves disappointing, and they may not have the time (or patience) to watch you jumping the same fence 20 times!
The quality of your video largely depends on the quality of your equipment, the amount of light available, and the camera’s ability to track your horse’s movement.
Smartphones are handy for filming the occasional jump or capturing those fun moments (?) when your horse dumps you in a puddle, but they’re not ideal for filming a training ride.
A smartphone won’t pan around the arena, following your every movement, nor will it zoom in when you reach the furthest corner, so you and your horse could end up as mere dots in the distance.
Fortunately, some clever technologically-minded geniuses have come up with a solution in the form of the Pivo Pod, which “transforms your existing smartphone into a personal cameraman.”
With a decent tripod, the Pivo Pod will produce high-quality footage that captures every move you and your horse make. It’s more stable than a friend with the best horse photography camera and won’t mind if you repeat the same movements a hundred times or more!
There are other, more expensive options that make similar promises, like the 5 Soloshot alternatives highlighted in this article. Soloshot solutions require a significant investment in terms of both time and money, but you will get a better quality video in the end.
If you’re filming yourself riding outside, choose a sunny day for the best results. A motion-tracking camera might lose a dark horse in the shadows, so try to focus your work in the sunniest part of the arena.
The early morning or late afternoon sun is the most flattering. Midday, direct sunlight might be too bright and create stark shadows that make the details harder to see.
Always keep the sun behind the camera to prevent glare and avoid turning your horse into a barely visible silhouette.
Filming indoors can be challenging, especially in a poorly lit arena. Motion-tracking cameras often struggle indoors. In fact, this proved to be one of the biggest challenges for the original Soloshot.
Motion-tracking equipment gives you a smoother end result. Remember when your dad filmed you as a child and now and again, you’d disappear from the shot until he whipped the camera around and caught up with you?
That won’t happen with a motion-tracking camera. Instead, you and your horse will be constantly in frame and in focus.
There won’t be any bouncing up and down or sudden shots of the ground—just you and your horse in all your glory!
Quality Over Quantity
While you can edit your footage to create a better-quality video, getting good-quality footage in the first place makes your job a lot easier.
If you’re out of focus, too far from the camera, or out of the shot altogether, the video won’t be of much use to anyone. It’s well worth putting some time and consideration into getting the best results before you start.
When filming action, you must leave room for the subject to move. If you’re too tightly focused on the horse, it will have nowhere to go, so you need to leave a little open space in front of the horse so it can move forward without disappearing from view.
Angles are critical in creating the image you want. If you’re galloping along a beach, the horse should only take up a small amount of the frame so you can appreciate the setting.
When filming in an arena, however, your trainer doesn’t want to see the jump poles piled up in the corner—they want to see you—so a tighter angle is more effective.
While you’ll get better footage if you film lateral movements from the front, most other movements look better from the side.
Additionally, you’d ideally film your ride straight-on, not from a camera angled up at your horse from the ground. This might mean investing in a tripod for your motion-following camera setup.
Every video my dad took of me showjumping as a kid shook as though he was in the middle of a minor hurricane! Stability is critical if you want anyone to actually enjoy watching the video or gain any useful insights from it.
Using a tripod is the best way to achieve this level of stability, but you could attach your camera or smartphone (and Pivo) to a fence if you don’t have one available. Just make sure it’s positioned correctly so you don’t suddenly disappear from shot!
Try not to zoom in and out too much while filming your ride—it makes the video difficult to watch and may be off-putting for some.
Ideally, you need a mid-level zoom where you can see your horse clearly but where it also has some room for movement.
Zooming in too tightly will detract from the bigger picture, and too far out will make it difficult for an instructor to see smaller movements in the saddle.
Control the Environment
Too much clutter in the background will detract from the viewer’s ability to see what’s going on in the saddle or under it, so clear the area you plan to work in before you start.
Get rid of anything that will clutter the final image, or that might throw shadows, or otherwise distract the viewer.
While you can’t control the weather, you can pick and choose which days are the best for filming. Filming in the rain is pointless, while high winds can cause instability, and the midday sun casts irritating shadows across the subject.
Practice Makes Perfect (Repetition)
Repetition is critical if you want good-quality footage, or to gain a real sense of what’s going on when you ride.
Filming yourself performing the same movement repeatedly gives you more footage to analyze, therefore allowing for deeper insights.
A certain amount of trial and error also goes into creating the perfect riding video. You might want to film the same movement from a number of different angles, or position your equipment in different places to see which yields the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Which camera is best for horseback riding?
The best camera for horseback riding depends on the results you’re looking for.
Endurance riders might prefer a horse riding helmet camera that can capture the scenery as they canter past, whereas someone looking to get the most out of virtual lessons will benefit more from a motion-tracking camera or Pivo.
Q: How do you use Pivo for horse riding?
To use your Pivo to film yourself riding, simply download the Pivo+ app, connect your smartphone to the Pivo Pod, and off you go!
Of course, getting top-quality results is a little more challenging than that, but with the new Horse BETA mode, it’s a lot easier than it is with many of the alternatives. This video gives some useful tips on how to get started.
Q: Which Pivo is best for horse riding?
The Pivo Pod Silver is faster than the Red model, making it more suitable for horse riding. It also has a “frenzy” speed setting that the Red model lacks.
Q: Where can I find Pivo equestrian reviews?
There are Pivo equestrian reviews all over the internet, but the best resource is probably our own Pivo Pod Silver Review (yes, I am biased!). There are also some insightful reviews on other horse websites, including this one by Horse&Hound.
Now that I’ve seen a video of myself riding, I’ve got a much clearer idea of the things I’m doing right and the numerous things that still need attention. It’s enabled me to focus my training more effectively and achieve my goals quicker.
Those are just a few of the benefits of filming yourself riding. You can also use the videos to showcase your horse or your riding abilities or simply to share your progress with friends and family.
Hopefully you now have the framework to help create quality footage that’s fun to film and a pleasure to watch.
P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:
- 5 Soloshot Alternatives to Record Your Ride (Inside & Out)
- 8 Best Horse Cameras
- 9 Pieces of High Tech Horse Gear Anyone Can Master
- Horse Photography (Pro Tips, Settings, Editing, Examples)
- Safety-Savvy Horse Stable Smoke Detectors
- 7 Simple Tips For Taking Better Photos of Horses in Action
- 7 Tips to Prepare Your Horse for a Perfect Photo Shoot