The Bucking Bronco Trick Photo

The Bucking Horse Trick

The "bucking bronco" is a trick photograph where the trick isn't in the camera work at all, it's in the horse. While it looks like the subject is sitting on a wildly kicking horse, it is actually a taxidermy (stuffed) horse or horse mannequin covered in cowhide. So everyone can look like a bronc busting cowboy!

These fake horses were popular in tourist spots and photo arcades where people would be charged for their use and/or for a professionally taken photograph. They might also be positioned outside a store to try to attract passing customers who could take their own pictures with them for free (and then hopefully stop into the shop).

How to Spot It

These photos can be spotted, if by no other method, from the fact that the horse normally seems to be posed in the same basic position with the head bowed down ad back legs off the ground. Maybe there is a standard base you could order that was in this position? Or maybe the entire horse was manufactured. I don't really know where people got them from.

A few of these horses are posed in a rearing position, but this type normally needs a supporting post under the body to make it stable. In any case, they always have at least one foot on the ground.

With fake horses there will also be a distinct lack of motion blur, and any attached props like rope or chaps will be hanging straight down.

And most of these horses were made in a brown and white piebald patch pattern--although some are plain brown or even completely white.

Two photographs of the exact same horse in the exact same pose and position also lets you know; this is not a living breathing animal.

You would also be right, I think, to suspect that no one would let their young child get on a real bucking horse--and if they did he or she would not be looking so happy about it.

And a painted backdrop is always a give-away that the "horse" is equally non-real.

Unusual Examples

Sometimes the horse is posed in a particularly dynamic way, like the example shown right. I am not even sure how this horse is supported.


In some cases the stiffed horse is replaced by a bull.


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Comments 6 comments

A Driveby Quipper profile image

A Driveby Quipper 4 years ago

How did you find all those photos? All this time I thought they were real.

Your hubs are fun!

psycheskinner profile image

psycheskinner 4 years ago Author

I have a bit of an eBay habit when it comes to old photos.

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Beth37 3 years ago

What a fun hub. Those horses look freakishly real, especially for back then. And that little girl looks just like my mom and Granny did at that age. I don't think I'd want to sit on a dead horse, I must say.

Dan W Miller profile image

Dan W Miller 3 years ago from Southern California now living in Phoenix

Sad and informative at once. I never knew about this and I live in the southwest. I forwarded your story to my facebook wall.

EGamboa profile image

EGamboa 3 years ago from West Palm Beach

Hmm. Didn't know that. Something else to look for. Nice article, love the old photos.

lmoyer92 profile image

lmoyer92 2 years ago

That's quite.... creepy, to be honest. lol. Riding on a dead and stuffed horse does not seem at all appealing to me

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