How to grow your equestrian Instagram account 

Do you have a horse instagram page and would you love to grow your audience? Whether it be for your equestrian business or your personal page, I can help you! In this blog post I will explain how I grew my instagram account from 2 thousand to over 36 thousand followers in the span of one year. 

‍This article contains links, some of which are affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I earn a commission which allows me to fund this blog. I only post links of products and services I have used and enjoyed and that have truly benefited me on my travels!

Reels

Let’s start with one of the most important things! When I first created a horse riding instagram account, reels were non-existent. However, today reels and the fastest and most efficient way to grow your virtual horsey community. My account first started growing after one of my reels from Morocco went viral. Make sure to keep reels short when you’re trying to grow, and be authentic. For growth your reels should be under 10 seconds long and filled with action! Action doesn’t necessarily mean a horse galloping full speed on a beach (even though that was my first viral reel…). Action can mean a lot of things - an incredible view, a lovely canter through the forest, horses trotting together, etc. Just make sure that your reel doesn’t take 8 seconds to actually show the highlight of it! People have short attention spans, and with social media in the mix, that attention span is even shorter. If they don’t see a horse within the first two seconds they will scroll on! Lots of people will tell you to use trendy music, but that doesn’t mean you have to use music that you don’t personally like. Have a look at the trending sounds on instagram and there will be lots of different styles on it, and it’s definitely not always pop music. Old songs by ABBA, the Beatles, and even the Mean Girls soundtrack often go viral, so there is always something for everyone. Sometimes I do post longer or other reels that are not necessarily good for growth, and you certainly can! It’s so important to stay true to yourself and your loyal audience will be happy to see these more personal posts too.

Horse and rider galloping over the beach in Essaouira, Morocco
A still from my first viral video!

High quality content and filming your own reels

What if I don't have a camera though?! Don’t worry! The vast majority of the videos and pictures on my account are filmed with my iPhone 12 pro. If your phone has a high quality camera, you’ll get very far. By the time those reels are helping your account grow, you will probably get messages from local photographers and videographers to collaborate! Even if you don’t, you can reach out to them to ask for a collaboration. Make sure to play around with your phone camera to find out the best settings for filming reels and taking photos of horses. The portrait function is absolutely perfect for pictures and will make them look very high quality, good enough to post on the gram. 

My camera settings are as follows: 

  • Formats. Camera capture: Most compatible. Photo capture: Apple ProRAW
  • Record video. 4K at 24fps or 30fps for film style, quality videos. 4K at 60fps for videos that need to be edited for slow-motion. HDR Video: on. Auto FPS: 30. 
  • Record slo-mo: I never use the slow-motion feature on the phone camera as the quality decreases significantly. Therefore I always film in 4K at 60fps normal speed and edit later. 

These settings will help you create the most beautiful reels for your audience to watch! 

Make sure to prepare well when filming your own reels. If you’re out on a ride and filming, make sure to get all your settings ready before heading out so you don’t have to worry about that later. While out on horseback and filming, it’s easiest to take a fanny pack or phone cord with you so you can easily grab and stow your phone again while cantering. If you are filming in one location, make sure that the horse and rider being filmed are happy and confident there. Or that your horse and yourself are confident there and you have roped yet another person into filming you (sorry Floor!). Make sure to get the timing right! Bright daylight usually isn't the best to film in, but can work for forest videos. Sunset and sunrise are the best times to create those dreamy reels.

Friesian horse during sunset in the netherlands
Floor and Florus the Friesian! Floor is usually behind the camera filming for me but this time she got to show off with Florus during sunset.

Organic versus Inorganic growth

Are you super tempted to click that boost button under your posts? I was too, so I tried a bunch of different things so you don’t have to! This is inorganic growth as you are paying for it. It can certainly be useful, but I recommend you only use it for business reasons, and not to grow your personal account. From my experience you won’t gain a whole lot of followers, however it can help direct many more people to your website. Make sure to create a target audience when you boost a post or reel that most accurately matches your website’s desired audience. When I publish something really cool on my blog, I promote my website through Instagram to create a larger audience for it. The ads that have worked best in the past were boosted reels, in which I put 7 euros per day for 10 days total. These ads have always redirected over 6000 people to my website. Make sure to be very careful in creating your audience (you can do this in the ad itself before it runs), otherwise you’ll see your website’s bounce rate skyrocket! 

Organic growth is by far the best way to grow your horse account, both for your personal and your business instagram. This works best with reels as I explained earlier! 

Shagya Arab close up in the Netherlands
My own sweet pony in portrait mode

Building your community of horse lovers

It’s so important to see your audience as a community and not just as followers. They are all people that are there to see your videos and pictures, and they want to get to know you! I’ve made so many new friends through instagram and it’s one of the best things of having a larger account. We organise so many meet-ups around the world and it’s fantastic to meet all these people with the same interests as you in real life! So, how do you build such a community? 

Hashtags and account tags

There are probably a whole bunch of accounts that you already love and follow, so interact with them! We are all people and a friendly DM goes a long way. Personally, it always makes my day to make a new friend in the comment section or through DM, so don’t be shy! You can tag your online friends in your videos to help your account grow. It’s always nice to ask first. I get unsolicited tags in a few dozen reels daily and I usually delete them as it fills up my entire inbox, meaning I don’t see the messages I actually want to see and respond to. Hashtags are a science in itself, and my best advice is to play around with them and see which work best. Follow horse related hashtags on instagram and see which ones push similar content to yours.

Regular posting

Post regularly! I post once a day around 6pm Amsterdam time. You don’t have to post every day but it will help a lot. This way you don’t spam your audience but you do show your face often enough for them not to forget about you. To find out your best posting time have a look at your insights under followers to see when your community is most active!

Engagement, direct messages and stories

This is simple. Respond to all your comments! Someone took the time to write something nice, so thank them for that. You might even make a friend. Same with your messages, respond to all of them (not the fake or spam accounts of course). Stay active in your stories and share some of your life as long as you’re comfortable with that. Make sure your stories are interactive once in a while but don’t spam your audience with polls and question boxes. I usually add an interactive element to my stories once a day or every two days. This way you get to interact with people and get to know what they do and don't like!

Unfollows are good!

Don’t be upset when you lose followers. Especially after a reel going viral, you’ll gain lots of followers. When one of mine goes viral, I usually gain between 200 and 500 followers a day for a few days in a row. That's great, but it doesn’t mean that they are all genuinely interested in the rest of your content. When people unfollow you it just means they are not interested in the type of videos and pictures you post. Maybe they are not as horse-centric, or maybe they only liked that one video because of the sunset in the background! Unfollows mean you’re creating a more tightly knit community of like minded people. 

How to deal with negativity on Instagram

When you grow, people will start leaving negative comments. I was actually delighted when I got my first one as it meant I was finally growing! However, it gets demotivating and it won’t help you to start discussions with the negative nancies at all. Delete the comment and block the account. If people are genuinely concerned about something and comment about that, I always leave the comment up and respond with a friendly explanation! People seem to be able to say something negative about literally anything, but don’t let that discourage you and don’t take it personally. Most people are extremely friendly and the good always outweighs the bad. 

Quick notes on Instagram for Business

Instagram is a great tool to grow your equestrian business! Make sure to add highlights to your profile to display your products, tours or whatever it is you would like people to see. Use a high quality picture as your profile picture, and make sure there is a horse in it! You want people to immediately know what you’re all about. Have a link to your website on your account and don’t be afraid to be yourself in your bio! 

If you need any help with your Instagram account please feel free to contact me, I’m happy to help! Let me know if there is anything else about social media you would like me to write about on the blog. 

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