There are different styles of equestrian photography for different purposes.
Put simply, (equestrian) editorial photography is about the person on or with the horse, while event photography is all about the horse itself.
This simplifies what is a wide gamut of photography styles for different people with different needs. However, it is true to say that an editorial style is normally very obvious and different from that used by an equestrian event photographer.
Photographers taking photographs of horses and riders for editorial purposes will nearly always frame their images very much around the rider and their face. They will often shoot from a more head on position to facilitate this, and will often use longer lenses for the same reason. The results of this style inevitably present less of the horse and more of the rider’s face.
Equestrian event photography, on the other hand, knows that a competitor wants a photograph of their horse more than anything else. To achieve this style an equestrian event photographer will normally shoot from a more side-on position in all disciplines, to present the optimum view of the horse itself.
In addition to this an event photographer will almost certainly include the surroundings in which the horse is competing. The competitor will want to see the size of the jump that they were jumping especially if it was a big one. Do not disappoint the rider by not showing how huge the jump was in your image!
Equestrian events are often held in the grounds of attractive buildings and, in the case of Royal Windsor Horse Show, even in the shadow of a castle. If the event photographer at such an event were to take all of their images from head-on with a long lens, there would be no indication of where the event was being held or the attractiveness of the setting. Instead, a wider view – taken at a flattering moment for the horse, and with the attractive building in the background – is always a better idea.
If course there is some flexibility here. If I am engaged in event photography then I will often throw in a tighter, perhaps portrait, image from a more head-on position, to give the competitor some choice. One thing I would never do, however, is to only present editorial style images for sale to a competitor at a competition. Likewise, when I am shooting for an equestrian publication, rather than an agency or newspaper, I would shoot in a more event photography style than an editorial one – the audience is more discerning!