A photographer’s halter is a very simple and minimalist halter designed for horse photographers, with thinner joints, which is easy to retouch in Photoshop. No brow straps or throat straps are used so that as little material as possible is on the horse’s head.
There are situations and motives where the photographer wishes that horses should stand “free”. One wants to portray horses naked, free and natural. However, since horses cannot stand freely everywhere, you have to hold them securely by the hand like with a normal halter or bridle. Or simple horse psychology: a horse that is in a secured area (fenced) may have other ideas than being provocative in front of the camera. In order to avoid taking advantage of the situation, a halter is put on. Well-behaved horses know that they should stand properly at the halter or not eat, or cannot run away and give their owner full attention. A halter or snaffle means work or a task, which is why the willingness to cooperate is higher. With a halter they have learned to stand and it is easier to make it clear to horses what they should do. With foals, young horses, wildlings, … it is not possible to put on nice bridles, because they are still too young or inexperienced to wear a bit. A nice leather halter or a show halter might be inappropriate in some situations, or they may wear too much. Or you have no alternative to a normal halter. In this case it is a good idea to use a photographer’s halter for beautiful portraits.
In recent years, some photographers or halter manufacturers have become creative and have developed photographer’s halters with different materials and in different styles. But in general there are two typical models, which I will describe in more detail below: A simple rope halter that is pulled through a ring and thus forms an 8, and a sewn or braided model with a noseband and neck strap.
For more than two years I have been using photography halters, which more and more replace normal halters or show halters. I appreciate the small pack size of some models, as well as the possibility to lunge a horse and thus take “free” action photos. I also take a lot of pictures with a bridle (see below), depending on the situation. As a photographer, you are spoilt for choice as to which halter to use, whether you want to shoot with a show halter or a snaffle. If you want to make the halter disappear in Photoshop later on, you can use any model: because in the end all photography halters are totally good and better for retouching than any regular halter, any knotted halter or show halter with chain. You just have to try it out.
I use horse photography halters since 2018 and have had multiple occasions with different breeds. The following comparison reflects my personal experience and personal opinion.
For over two years I have been using my favorite photography halter. It is a simple rope, fits on every head, it is very solid and works also with stallions. For retouching I find this model the best. As you can see in comparison to the other halters, the neck strap doesn’t run over the cheeks but can be pushed behind the gaiters and therefore there is optically only little material on the head and it goes super quick for retouching. I wash the halters in the washing machine and I have 5 or 6 in different colors and lengths, so they are perfect for group pictures. A disadvantage is that it can be a bit uncomfortable in the hand when pulling horses, because it is such a thin rope. Some horses also react negatively to the pulling pressure and don’t like it. But you can make a knot in the rope or use a stop, then it won’t pull tight at the chin. If you make a knot/eye in the rope, you can also use a more comfortable rope. There are also models that have a shorter cord and end with a ring, so that you can hang up a comfortable cord or lunge.
Paracord, rigging yarn, ring. With some suppliers still with stop on rubber or biothane, hand loop or ring for a rope. I wash the halter in the washing machine.
Can be rolled up and thus packed small. Pack size can vary depending on the length of the knit. I have halters in 6 or 7 meters length and can easily put them in the pocket of my pants, jacket or camera. So I always have one or two halters with me.
A halter fits all heads, from mini to XXL. You can also make just one loop, which you put around your neck or fasten in the chin strap of a bridle as a “safety line”. This is worthwhile if you want the reins to lie loosely in the picture, or if, for example, you are photographing children on horses and want to have a safety leash.
Perfect for portraits. More pressure on the horse’s head during action shots. The thin string can hurt in the hand, here I would attach another rope or lunge. By using a stop (either on the halter made of leather, rubber or biothane, or by making a knot at the point) you can avoid pulling the rope tight.
I have used it on different breeds, sizes and horses. There may be horses that react sensitively to pressure: When the horse pulls or the owner pulls on the rope, pressure is generated. This can cause confusion, depending on the training and sensitivity of the horses. You can avoid pulling the rope by making a stop (either on the halter made of leather, rubber or biothane, or by making a knot at the point).
For portraits I like to push the rope behind the cheeks or gaiters so that as much of the horse as possible is visible and the halter covers little of the head. Difficult parts such as the cheekbone are not covered by the halter. It also does not slip into the eye. You have to make sure that you use a stop and thus the halter does not open in loose condition and slide down the nose. The nose part should not slip too deep and go into the nostrils. For horses with mane I like to put the mane in the neck over the halter and ideally the mane and halter should have the same color, because then it “disappears” a little bit. A big stop or knot on the chin can make the area a bit trickier to retouch.
Very cheap with great benefits, because 1 halter = all sizes and it is always with you. There are different designs and many suppliers, the prices are between 6 € and 40 € / 40 $. Whether the high prices are justified I can not judge, here I would check what added value these halters offer or whether they use a different material.
I use this halter in most cases because it is quick and uncomplicated and fits all horse heads. When lunging I like to use Equimero (see model 2). The small pack size allows me to always have one or two of the halters with me. In the meantime I have several halters with 6 m length or more, so that the horse owner can take several steps to the side with well-behaved horses, or so that group pictures can be taken. For me this is the most convincing from the price-performance ratio and packing size.
10 mm core-sheath rope, rigging yarn, no metal or similar I wash the halter in the washing machine.
The somewhat thicker rope with the relatively long integrated rope can be rolled up like a lunge. The pack size is not exactly small, but in a backpack the halter should still find a place.
A halter fits all heads. The photographer’s halter can be adjusted around the nose as well as around the neck. Thus you push it through the rigging. This can take some time or if the horse cannot keep still, you have to take it off, adjust the size, put it on again.
The halter is great for portraits and also for action pictures. The thicker rope is perhaps a bit more bulky for small or fine heads than the thin paracord rope or the flat Biothane halter.
I cannot detect any negative reactions. The horses have accepted it as a normal halter that sits nice and tight on the head and does not exert unnecessary pressure.
I would see it in the intersection between the rope halter and the Biothane halter or trekking halter. The side strap runs along the cheek and thus it is further away from the cheekbone and the eye, but the elaborately braided rigging yarn is very wide under the chin and not as small as a ring. When lunging or pulling from the side, the knot on the chin can move a little towards the cheek, but this is not tragic and easy to retouch.
You can get the halter between 28,00 € to 32,50 € depending on the length of the rope. Here it is worthwhile in the price-performance ratio especially with a long rope up to 9 m length, with which you can replace a lunge in principle.
A good all-rounder, especially if you are looking for a halter and lunge in one and therefore want to have less equipment with you. The pack size is unfortunately not as small as with the other rope halter, but you don’t need a lunge or more comfortable ropes.
An alternative to the thin rope halter is offered by sewn or riveted Biothane halter, like this model from Equimero. The price is comparatively high, especially since there are different sizes available and therefore theoretically all sizes would be needed. The noseband and neckband connections are sewn tight and the halter is therefore only adjustable at the neck. But it is a solid halter and I personally like it especially because 1. it does not exert any pulling pressure on the head or it is lower and 2. it is perfect for lunging. I’m not worried that this model will pull, at least I haven’t seen any reaction from any horse, because technically there is still pulling pressure on the chin. For retouching it is a bit more complicated than the rope version, because more material is visible on the head. It can also be tricky to fit, because the buckle sits in the neck and it is only a pin buckle and not a simple buckle. I suppose it should be more inconspicuous in the neck. A horse that does not stand well or bangs its head becomes tiresome here, so you have to take off the halter again, adjust it, put it on and if it still does not fit in size, repeat the whole thing.
Biothane, rings, thorn closure in the neck, stitched joints. I wash the halter under running water and with soap.
The halter can be rolled up a little bit, but the material and workmanship does not allow a tiny packing size like the rope halter. It is still possible to transport it flat or wrapped in a backpack.
There are different sizes, like mini to pony, pony to warmblood and warmblood to coldblood. If you want to be prepared for every type of horse, you theoretically need to have all sizes with you. In any case, size 2 should fit most horses.
This photographer’s holster is perfect for portraits and action shots. When lunging, there is also pressure on the chin, but it is less tight than the rope halter. With difficult horses or super sensitive horses the power is better distributed over the noseband. The halter also has an approx. 20-40cm long rope, which ends in a ring. A lunge or similar can be attached to it.
I have tested this halter on various horses and never had any problems.
In contrast to the rope halter, this cut allows little variance. The straps over cheeks and to the neck may lie exactly on the cheekbone or could even slip into the eye area when pulled by lunge. In my opinion this is more difficult to retouch. The buckle in the neck can influence how high or low the noseband sits, it should neither go into the nostrils nor run directly along the cheekbone. Due to the length of the integrated halter cord, the carabiner or the loop of the attached cord or lunge can sometimes be unfavorably positioned at the height of the chest or mane. This can be trickier when retouching, if you don’t pay attention to it when taking pictures.
With just under 35€ per piece it is unfortunately not quite cheap to buy and at the latest if you plan several holsters in one or different sizes, it can be a real investment. But I think it is a useful addition to the other photographer holster models or you don’t have to buy them all at once.
After the thin rope halter I like to use this halter very much, especially for action photos I appreciate it very much. It is very stable and solid, horses have no problem with it. I also like the short integrated rope with a ring at the end, where you can hang a lunge or another rope on it. In direct comparison with other halters, the horse owners didn’t have any problems with it either.
Nylon, metal ring, an additional rubber tube, which can be removed. Originally there was a knotted throat strap, which I also removed. The halter is washable.
Can be rolled up and thus packed small, so that it fits in every pocket and can always be with you.
The halter fits only on pony, cob and thoroughbred heads. For yearlings and foals I made a knot in the neck so that the noseband does not sit too deep.
Works well for portraits, there is no pulling pressure on the chin or the like because it is completely sewn. If you make a knot/eye in the integrated leash, you can attach a lunge or other rope. If the horse pulls a lot, the thin rope can be uncomfortable in the hands.
So far I have tested it mainly on foals, yearlings and young horses that could not wear a bridle and were not necessarily perfectly haltered. The halter is solid enough to hold the horses even when pulled, for the horses it wears more or less like a thin knot halter or show halter.
The sewn-on parts allow the halter to slip over the cheekbone into the eye area when pulled from the side. For me this is tiring to retouch, because especially the cheeks have a lot of details which are especially visible on summer coats or elegant fine horses and therefore are hidden. Finally, this halter can also be retouched relatively easily.
With a price of about 9-12 € you can’t complain here.
The holster is a good deal for all occasions. Although there is only one size, it can be used on a variety of small horses, ponies and finer thoroughbreds.
Unfortunately I could not find it on the manufacturer’s site. If you search with the keywords “BUSSE Halfter Wandern” in relevant equestrian stores or Google, you will find it quickly.
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