Video Like a Pro

Use these guidelines to help you put together a winning video of your reining run to enter a virtual horse show.

By Kaycie Timm

Make the most of your entry to a virtual horse by giving the judges the video they need to properly evaluate your ride. (Photo by Kaycie Timm)

Are you ready to show off your and your horse’s skills by entering a virtual horse show? Don’t spoil your chance at success before even submitting a video. Instead, make the most of your online entry and give the judges what they need to properly evaluate your ride with these tips to help you ace the videoing process. 

First, take time to carefully review all rules and guidelines for the show and class you plan to enter. There’s nothing worse than nailing your run only to be disqualified on a technicality. Many of the same rules used in the show pen apply to e-shows, such as legal tack and equipment, pattern and marker requirements, or even attire guidelines. But, the online platform does require some modifications to standard proceedings and every show is different, so don’t assume the same rules apply across the board. Some online events may not allow elements you’d expect to see in the reining pen, such as chaps, while others might enforce additional stipulations you aren’t accustomed to. Review the rules before you ride, and don’t be afraid to ask event facilitators for clarification if you’re unsure.

One key factor to verify before saddling up is if you need to go “live” online during your run or if it’s acceptable to take several videos and select which one you want to submit. If you have the option to upload a recorded video rather than uploading live, watch the video carefully before submitting. Be sure you stayed on pattern, look for background distractions that you may not have noticed while riding, and check for quality issues such as loss of focus or a blip in the video. Consider asking a friend or your trainer to watch the video, too, to get a second perspective.

You’ll also want to carefully evaluate location options before you mount up. Good lighting can make a huge difference in your video quality, so be sure to choose the best spot at the best time of day. If you plan to ride in an indoor or covered pen, be aware of doorways, windows, and other openings that might create a bright background, making it difficult to see you and your horse clearly in the video. If you’re riding outside, consider the sun’s position and any surrounding buildings or trees that could cause disrupting shadows. Of course, every riding space will have a few drawbacks, but videoing at the right time of day when the sun works to your advantage is worth the extra effort.

Whether you’re setting up your recording device on a tripod or enlisting the help of a friend to record your run, proper camera placement and angle can help overcome some location deficiencies you might face. Plan to video horizontally, level with your horse (not from above—such as in arena seating or over a fence—or below). Ensure that your camera operator knows the pattern you’ll be running so they’re prepared to pan and zoom (if that’s allowed under the virtual show’s rules) or move as needed. Don’t forget to charge your camera or phone so it has enough battery power to last through your run—or through several takes, if that’s allowed.

Next, be sure your tack is clean, your attire is appropriate (and in line with the virtual show’s rules), and your horse is groomed and properly warmed up. Even though the judges aren’t sitting at the edge of your arena, treat your video shoot like an in-person show: get ready, warm up, then give it your best! Approaching this experience with the same attitude you’d bring to a traditional class will help you and your horse look your best on camera.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun. Take a minute to reflect about why you love reining, then get out there and enjoy showing off your horse through this unique competition platform. 

Have some advice for videoing your reining run? We want to hear from you! Send your tips or tell us about your virtual show experience by emailing