Smile for the Camera

Stacey at The Jumping Percheron wrote a post recently about disliking having her picture taken when she was out riding. It got me thinking. I knew some people don’t like it, but I didn’t realize that some people were that passionate about it. I don’t generally like having my picture taken and I’ll use duck out of group shots if I can, but I surprisingly don’t generally care if people take my picture when I’m out riding.

Some guys was taking pictures so we swapped cameras.

In fact, if it’s at a good spot, I’ll try to get them to take a picture with my camera too. We actually get our picture taken so much, I’ve thought about getting those free business cards made and passing them out to ask people to send me their pictures.

Now, this isn’t to say I don’t find it weird sometimes. I’m not really sure why people want to take a picture of a random person riding a horse. Like, what exactly will you do with this picture? Why do you want a picture of a stranger? I don’t take pictures of random hikers or bikers (unless they’re doing something stupid/illegal that I want to document. Some people ask, but most just take pictures. If they ask and the spot isn’t bad, we’ll usually stop and let them get a better shot.

Picture taken by some stranger at Yosemite

Often parents want their kids to pose for a picture near the horses. I also find this a little weird. Kids who want to pet the horse makes sense to me. And taking a picture of the kid petting the horse’s head or neck as a cute moment also makes sense. But some parents will just pose their kids in front of the horse –  with us still riding it – and take a picture. Why is this a memory that you want? Like will you scrap book this as the time Johnny and Susie got their picture taken with a stranger in the park? I don’t get it. But if I can, I usually try to accommodate. The kids do need to be behaved and they do need to ask. If the kid is running around, screaming, or waving sticks: NO. If it’s not a good section of trail to stop on: NO. If i don’t like you? NO. If you act even the slightest bit entitled to touch my horse? F*ck NO. I also generally hesitate to let people pet Levi as he’s still hates standing still and I don’t want anyone getting knocked over or stepped on, but, when I can safely do so, I try to make it happen.

Dijon is the champion crowd pleaser

Why do I do this? Two reasons.

  1. I remember being a little kid and being obsessed with horses. I wanted to still want to pet every horse I saw see. A lot of these kids have no access to horses. The few minutes it takes for me to stop and let them pet the horse is nothing to me and could mean a lot to them. I once met a man with severe mental disabilities walking with his caretaker in the park. He asked if he could pet Nilla and I was worried because he was hurling a stick around, but he threw it into the woods when I said he needed to drop it. He came up and wrapped his arms around Nilla’s head. She just leaned into him and let him love on her. And really, anyone who gets joy from meeting and petting the horses is welcome, wether kids and adults.
  2. Every time an equestrian makes a public appearance they become a de-facto ambassador for all equestrians. Should we have to be? No. Should a woman who is a ___(insert profession of choice here)___ have to represent all women of that proession? No. But will people make those assumptions anyway? Yes. Just because you shouldn’t have to be an equestrian ambassador doesn’t mean you aren’t. Equestrians are losing trail access left and right in this country. If I can be nice to people and maybe help positively influence their perception of trail riders I will.

Found this picture on someone else’s Instagram

If you think I’m sounding too goodie-two-shoes about this, hold on. Anyone who has met me in real life will testify that I am not what you would call a “nice person.” If people are assholes, I will give it back. Technically, hikers and bikers must yield to horses in California, but I usually move over for bikers if I can. And I’ll try not to make people climb into poison oak or do weird things to get out of my way.  But if you start something with me, I’ll fight back. I’ll refuse to move, yell at you, direct you where you need to be, or tell your demon child to drop their whirling death stick. I once kneed a man in the face because he refused to move over and kept walking straight down the middle of the path towards me. I stopped, but had no where to move to that wasn’t dangerous so I stood my ground and he walked right into me, but really face vs. knee isn’t a fair fight and he definitely regretted that decision.

I see you like to take pictures…

I have my beefs with people. Especially people doing potential scary things like flying drones, pushing strollers on dirt single-track trails (why are you here?), coming flying up my horse’s ass on your bike, having uncontrolled dogs, or uncontrolled kids. But at the end of the day, I’m the minority out there. While it would be nice if people would stop flying drones around my horses – and I swear to god, when I buy my own property, I will buy a buckshot rifle and shoot down drones over my property even if that’s still a grey area legally… or even if it’s not legal…sorry – tangent – I generally try to prepare my horses for the worst, hope for the best, and, if possible, get some good pictures out of it.

How about you, readers? What do you think of people taking your picture when you’re out riding? Feel free to disagree with me; I think I’m in the minority with not being bothered.

39 thoughts on “Smile for the Camera

  1. Emma

    I’m with ya on #1 – I still remember what it was like being a horse obsessed yet horse deprived little girl. Seeing a real horse, in the flesh, and actually being allowed to pet it? That could make my whole week or month. So these days whenever I run into anyone, esp kids, while out with the horses I like to invite them to say hi to and pet the horse. Obvi safety first and all that – but I still get excited seeing kids get all excited about it haha

    1. Olivia Post author

      When kids are especially excited I really try to stop if I can. I know it means a lot for them. Some kids are not interested and their parents are forcing it or the kids feel entitled to it and then I refuse, but for the genuinely excited kids, I try to make that happen.

  2. Teresa

    I actually agree with everything. I am still obsessed and I remember the desire to pat every horse I saw.
    I also agree that we are ambassadors. Many people are afraid of horses and if they learn to not worry they might be less likely to campaign to have horses kicked out of parks etc. (not that horses are allowed to too many parks here!).

    I think people like to take your picture because it shows what is going on – kinda like street photography but on a trail.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I guess I don’t do street photography either, so it’s just weird to me. But I don’t mind. I still have a desire to pet every horse I see.

  3. Calm, Forward, Straight

    It wasn’t all that long ago when nearly everyone had a relationship with horses. They were our main form of transportation and worked our farms. I think the longing for that connection has lingered. I try indulge people who want to get closer to my horse, although around here at the beach they often are barefoot… ;D

    1. Olivia Post author

      I have refused pettings to people in inappropriate footgear. Sometimes parents will pick their kid up for petting if I say they can’t because of sandals or something like that.

  4. roamingridersite

    I must look incredibly unfriendly because I have never once had my picture taken. I also very rarely run into others where I ride. I agree though with everything you said. We are the minority and it doesn’t do anyone any good to be rude. The only time I’m rude is almost always with other riders who take up the entire trail and refuse to get over, come running around a blind corner and don’t slow down or the worst in my mind: ride with a dog offleash and don’t even try to call it back. I tell them my horse kills dogs and they better get their dog away from me.

    1. Olivia Post author

      We see people all the time and very rarely run into other riders. Nilla will honestly kill a dog. Mule are known for it and I’ve seen her lunge at them. I have to go around and tell people at endurance rides to leash their dogs because people seem to think ride camp is a good place for loose dogs.

  5. kalinann

    I’m totally fine with it although I have had a few moments when a non-horse person takes a photo that is ridiculously unflattering and posts it everywhere and I’m like…noooo why?! But like you said, if they get joy out of seeing a horse randomly and snapping a photo or coming to say hi, I’m more than glad to share my joy and passion for a few minutes.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I do worry sometimes about people taking pictures of my sweaty mule and maybe posting it like look at this poor abused mule, but I can’t live my life for them and I know she’s not abused. But non horse people often have a misunderstanding of how horses work. Being sweaty from a long ride is not a bad thing.

  6. EquiNovice

    If I had a horse that was relaxed and social, I would definitely be up to letting people come meet my horse. I really enjoy teaching adults and kids about horses (have done this for years volunteering at an equine therapy barn) so it definitely would be a teaching moment every time whether they wanted that or not! That said, I’m not entirely sure I’d be cool with random photos, but it would depend. The Belgian mare I used to lease would be a perfect example- the big horses definitely draw a crowd, just like mules, and she is a mounted police horse so being crowded or kids being kids wouldn’t phase her. Harley, on the other hand, is just waaaay too warmblood. Some people pulled into our barn driveway the other day when I had him out in the crossties. They yelled through the window to ask if they could come pet him. It was windy, and their car was making weird noises so he was already dancing around and starting to lose his marbles. I had to tell them no and I felt awful. I mumbled out something about him being scared of new people and I’m fairly sure they just thought I was being a b*tch but he just gets too wound up sometimes and it would not have been safe at that moment for a group of random non-horse people.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I definitely pick and choose depending on how the horses are behaving and how much the people are/aren’t bothering them

  7. sunreinblog

    I love that picture of you two backlit with the sunlight on green trees in the background…

    Can I steal it for my Instagram? Ha ha just kidding about the instagram part- but probably someone thought your costumes were pretty cool on that picture.
    Right now my lumpy blog is here at
    But I’m starting over with riding so am going to try out this word press Venue.

    How do you like it compared to blogger? Advantages? Cons?

    1. Olivia Post author

      I would highly recommend wordpress. Things actually work here. Blogger has a lot of issues and google is no longer supporting/updating it so it’s only going to get worse. The experience of using WP is much more enjoyable and I think the output is better as well.

  8. Jamie

    “or tell your demon child to drop their whirling death stick”
    I nearly peed my pants laughing at this!!!! 😀 😀

    I am the same, I have ZERO restrictions on calling out assholes.. they are fair game. }:^)

    but polite people who want to pet the horsey or take a picture, sure. 🙂

  9. Alanna McPartlin

    I’m very open to people petting the ponies (or taking pictures). We see this the most when riding on the beach.

    1. Olivia Post author

      We also get a lot of attention on the beach. Unfortunately, ours are so unused to the beach that they’re usually freaking out to much for me to trust people near them.

  10. Stephanie Peck

    I almost never encounter people when I’m out trail riding; I’m usually at state parks or other places that have designated trails for horses only, so pedestrians aren’t really an issue. There’s one park in Tulsa that allows horses, bikers, and hikers, but I’ve never trailered down there to ride because their Facebook page is full bikers and hikers complaining about having to share the trails with horses.

    I totally agree that people view a single equestrian as an ambassador for all equestrians, and I commend you for letting people touch and photograph your horses (within reason)!

    1. Olivia Post author

      There are basically no separate trails for riders in this area. The only ones I know of are at Yosemite and people usually find their way onto them anyway.

  11. irishhorse

    Agree with you too. My horse is pretty social, sometimes a bit much! And I remember being that little kid. But I too question why some stranger wants a photo. I hate photos any other time, but I’ve had people take selfies with my sweaty horse after a 20 mile ride! Many people do seem to be tourists, especially from foreign countries, where horses are not seen by many people.

    One issue I have had is a friend I ride with has a beautiful paint everyone wants to pet. Who is not quite as good as my horse. So we have to watch him more carefully if there are feral children about.

    And strollers on single track, hate! On single-lane bridges to, oh my!

    1. Olivia Post author

      I have a similar issue in that people want to pet Levi and he’s not good for it, whereas plain bay Eugene would be much better for petting but the people don’t chose him first.

  12. Nicole Sharpe

    I take pictures of all kinds of things that are other peoples’ property that I find interesting. Usually if the person is there I will ask, but I take pictures of peoples’ dogs in their cars/trucks/yards if I’m walking by and the dog is cute, houses, cats, and gardens. Given that most people think horses are by their very nature beautiful (“OOOH pretty horsie!”), regardless of the true beauty of the individual horse, I understand wanting to take pictures of strangers’ horses. It doesn’t bother me, though it has also never happened to me.

    I do have a problem, as you do, with people not respecting my requests or instructions regarding a horse. But that is 100% fair.

  13. Stacie Seidman

    Well, since I own Rio and he thinks he is a supermodel, we’ve posed for many a photo. I don’t mind at all. I think people posing their kids with you is cute! For them it’s like seeing an attraction since they probably don’t come across horses in their day to day.

  14. Lola

    Bwahaha I love that you kneed someone in the face!
    I can only think of one time that someone wanted to take my photo. I was riding in a public park & stopped so a bunch of kids could pat my horse. I couldn’t if care less people take my picture, to be honest.

    1. Olivia Post author

      I don’t know why, but people around here just seem to be more interested in taking pictures of riders than other places I’ve been.

  15. Kara Thomson

    Drones! Crazy, that is not cool. I have yet to run into a drone but it seems terrible! If it’s feasible I let anyone interested interact with my horses! All I ever do is talk about them anyway. 😋

    1. Olivia Post author

      I’d actually like to own a drone and none of mine have yet to care about the drones I have seen, but I hate people who think they should be able to fly drones on private property or near horses.

  16. cathryn

    Interesting! I’ve had quite a few people ask to take pictures of Spud with me still in the cart, or pictures of their kid standing with him (with me still in the cart lol). I typically will ask if their kid wants to sit in the cart or something so I can stand out of the way, but I have found several photos of Spud on Facebook with me in the drivers seat lol.

    As a sidenote, I just wanted to let you know I have changed my blog name, so it may not show up in your reader list anymore. The new url is www dot twoandahalfhorses dot blogspot dot com. You may have to re-enter it into your reader list to follow again.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Let me know if you need help with forwarding your old site to the new. You shouldn’t need to let readers know, but I think I have been seeing your posts, so I think you’re good.

  17. Hannah

    I like taking pictures of horses. If people are riding, I’d ask permission, but I like pictures of cute horses regardless of whether someone’s riding or it’s just out in a field. The human in the picture is kind of a…side effect. 😉

  18. Dom

    I always try to find the pictures on FB and IG after I get home! I rarely succeed.

    We did have random people take pictures of our wedding when they walked by, which was funny but kind of strange. We were in a public park so I don’t blame them, but why would you want random pictures of people you don’t know?

    Horses, I get. They ARE magical, after all.

    1. Olivia Post author

      Yes, horses are magical, but the people not so much. I really don’t get taking pictures of someone else’s wedding. That seems really bizarre.

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