Using a GoPro on Horseback - Horse Riding Holidays and Safaris

Using a GoPro on Horseback

Using a GoPro on horseback - Globetrotting horse riding holidaysFor many years now, years Buster and I have been GoPro-ing our Globetrotting adventures to add another dimension to our videography and we love it. When our clients are considering a riding adventure, video footage makes it a lot easier for them to get a feel for the landscape, pace and horses. GoPros offer an in-the-saddle perspective that drones and handheld cameras simply can’t achieve.

GoPros are the perfect filming device when riding a horse, as they are pocket sized and have built-in stabilising facilities (no, this isn’t a sponsored post). Unlike a handheld camera where the footage becomes a 30-second tribute to the sky or ground, a GoPro can be fixed to a helmet, pole, wrist strap or chest harness to hold it steady and allow you to concentrate on riding. Kind of important!

There are oodles of GoPro accessories that you can buy. We’ve trialled and tested quite a few to find the best angle when riding. This video was filmed using a number of the mounts listed below (as well as handheld cameras), so it should give you an idea of the kind of footage each mount can film.

This is the equipment that works for us (and our globetrotters):

  • The camera body that we use on our rides is the GoPro HERO8 – I’m not going to go into the technical attributes or the pros and cons of various models, as you can find all this online. We use the bluetooth remote (attached to the wrist strap) so that we can steer the GoPro easily while riding. This is especially handy when the GoPro is already fixed to your helmet.
  • GoPro helmet front mount – this is an easy and no-fuss way to record when riding. You need to make sure it’s titled so it has your horse’s head and neck in the foreground to give perspective when filming. In saying that, it gets quite boring watching this one frame, unless you’re jumping or playing polo, which is fast-paced and action driven. If you’re going for a leisurely trail ride through the bush, you’ll need to switch it up. The GoPro has quite a wide angle, which is great, and the footage is super stable thanks to the helmet. I would suggest recording when your guide tells you you’re about to go for a canter or trot or approaching wildlife. Don’t record for hours at a time, as you’ll not only chew through your battery, you’ll waste valuable card space. With the wide view, people and wildlife look miniature unless you’re eyeballing them, so if you want your riding friends in the frame at a decent size, get up close and personal.
  • GoPro chest harness mount – this is certainly an option to consider, but wouldn’t be my first recommendation by any means. That said, some riders prefer it to a helmet mount or like to swap between the two different views. It’s not a great angle to view your ride from, as unless you are really tall, your horse’s neck takes up most of the frame. Als,o when you ride, you move your head to take in the scenery, not your chest, so the GoPro gets a rather static view the whole time. Plus, it’s not the most comfortable harness to ride in for long periods. And for women, it looks weird with your boobs – a valid concern!
  • GoPro head strap mount – see photo below. Similar to the helmet front mount, if you don’t ride in a helmet (we strongly recommend you do!), then the head strap mount can fit over a cap, hat or directly on your head thanks to its adjustable straps. Keep in mind, it’s not as stable as the helmet front mount, so your footage may not be as smooth.
  • GoPro suction cup – clearly this won’t stick to your horse’s rump or neck (unfortunately), but we do take our suction cup on trips with us. The reason being, we stick it to cars when we’re travelling to the location. When editing our videos, it’s great to fast-forward the drive into a property for the first time to show the landscape, culture and accommodation as an introduction to the ride.
  • GoPro wrist housing – This is a super angle to interlace with other footage. Obviously the GoPro needs to be facing out, but it doesn’t obscure your riding and gives a different perspective. It’s best when riding with groups, and when you’re having a canter or gallop, you can approach fellow riders and angle the GoPro to capture them cantering beside you. Make sure the wrist strap is tight and secure before recording.
  • GoPro Handler – this is a hand grip pole which was released for water filming as it floats. We always take the Handler on our trips as it’s perfect if you want to film underwater when horses are swimming. It’s also small enough to attach to your GoPro and throw it in your saddle bag or pocket in between filming. If you’re comfortable riding one-handed, this mount is awesome. One of my favourites.
  • GoPro extension pole – Last but certainly not least, we find this is overall the best mount for riding. It’s not for everyone, as you have to ride one-handed the entire time, so if you have a horse above your skill level, it might not be wise. I take it in turns with Buster (that’s him below) riding with the extension pole. It gives you a range of angles – you can even film an aerial shot of yourself riding alongside your fellow riders.

GoPro-ing on horseback - Globetrotting horse riding holidays

Battery & Memory cards

  • A lot of our more intrepid horse riding holidays don’t have access to power throughout the trip, so battery conservation is paramount. Depending on your budget, I would make sure you have at least three batteries in your kit bag. We’ve been known to chew up a battery in one day! A good option is to take a dual charger so you can charge two flat batteries at a time via a USB power connection. Even on our more remote rides, you’ll meet up with support vehicles on some or all nights, so you’ll be able to charge your batteries in the vehicles when you get stuck. This is what we’ve done in the past and it works well. Another option would be to take a portable battery pack.
  • I would prefer to have 2 x 32GB memory cards in my kit rather than one 62GB card that becomes the mothership of all your video files. What if you were to lose it? What if the card has an error? You probably won’t use an entire 32GB card throughout the trip, but it’s good to change them throughout the trip just in case.

Once home, it’s the moment of truth where you download your video files and relive your ride. No doubt you’ll have a library of video files of your trip, some great and others not so much. Friends and family don’t want to see your unedited video footage unless someone is being gnawed by a lion or falling into a icy, fast-flowing river. If you do want to share your footage, and if you have the skills, you should compile the highlights and put it together into a video montage. Short and sweet is the trick here: Think five minutes maximum of the best moments of your trip with one of your favourite songs as backing music.

It’s a lot of work, but worth it in the end when you have a polished keepsake of your trip in a bite-sized format that you can share however you like. For Apple computer users, iMovie is great for editing video. Final Cut Pro is another good option. There are a plethora of YouTube videos out there that explain the finer skills of video editing and talk you through the whole process from start to finish.

Most importantly, have fun!

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