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Horse Photo Props

Updated on February 6, 2017

From shortly after the advent of photography, until early in the twentieth century, it was very popular to have your photograph taken on horseback. Being on a horse has long indicated a person of noble rank, a person with wealth and authority.

For people who did not actually have a horse, various facsimiles were offered to allowed them to be part of this great tradition. Professional photography studios would provide a range of sets to choose from--with varying degrees of attention to detail.

Toy Horses

It has always been natural to pose children with toys, such as a rocking horse. Or the latest thing in horse-styled metal tricycles. These posed essentially imitate the tradition depiction of a respect gentleman on horseback.

And some professional photographers still use stuffed horses as a prop to draw trade. However they have generally fallen from use as modern children are more likely to wanr to emulate driving a car or riding a bike.

Painted Horse

If you are really on a budget, nothing beats a horse painted on a wall or a two-dimensional stand-up. Who needs Photoshop?

Well, that looks like fun.
Well, that looks like fun.

Flat Model

One step up from a painted horse is on that is cut out and moved away from the wall.

But don't worry, you can still ride it... sort of. At least this one is taken at a sensible angle, which is not the case in all photographs of this type.

Annie Oakley
Annie Oakley


If you are lucky you can get a fully three-dimensional fake horse. Although one would have though that Annie Oakley could have got a real horse?

Some of these mannequins were smooth like shop models, with or without hair mane and tail. And a more demure girl might choose to pose sitting sidesaddle.

Others were taxidermy-preserved ponies, which got rather worn with use giving them a rather macabre appearance.

Not a well-framed shot. Not only is the "horse" out of focus, you can see the edge of the painted backdrop on the right.
Not a well-framed shot. Not only is the "horse" out of focus, you can see the edge of the painted backdrop on the right.

For group shots studios provided a carriage complete with mannequin (equinequin?) horses.

People would obliging pose, going along with the conceit that this wagon might actually be going somewhere, and need someone to hold the reins.

Oh look, in this one you can see the corner of the room and part of another set.
Oh look, in this one you can see the corner of the room and part of another set.

Horses would also be set up as an added feature of a tourist attraction, such as the horse and wagon shown right which was at Colossal cave.

Hairy Horses

For an extra air of authenticity the subject might provided with a cow-hide covered mannequin, or a compete taxidermied horse. High quality horses were clearly expensive as many picture show them in advance states of wear.

One particular favorite is the horse posed in mid-buck, so you can pretend to be a bronc-buster.

Or just sit there in a staid manner, entirely missing the point.

(You can see more bucking bronco shots here).

Other Animals

In some cases other animals are used as props such as bulls or donkeys.

Live Animals

Some photo arcades would provide an actual horse to pose on. They were typically small ponies or donkey for children to pose on. Most of which look rather depressed about their lot in life, and I can't really blame them.

See also:

But all good things must come to an end....

What do you do when horses go out of fashion?

Simple: get a car.


If you search online or visit auctions you will sometimes come across and old photo-prop horse for sale. Taxidermy example are now often in rather marginal condition due to the age of the hide and variable quality of the initial preservation. Good examples can go for $5000 or higher.


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    • expertscolumn profile image

      Stanley Soman 5 years ago from New York

      I love the ending, "get a car" and how true that is. If my homies and my home girl don't see me with my car, It's just not the same. How well a man maintains his car says alot about himself, much like the horse in bygone days.

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 5 years ago

      Interesting hub idea. My dad was photographed with a ny in the 1930's. I beleive that was the thing to do back then. ;-)

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 5 years ago from Wales

      A wonderful hub;thanks for sharing and enjoy your weekend.