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Modern horsemaning
A modern example of horsemaning

Horsemaning (or horsemanning) is the act of posing for a photograph in such a way that the subject appears to have been beheaded, their head resting on the ground or on a surface. Such photography was a fad in the 1920s.[1] The practice derives its name from the Headless Horseman, an evil character from Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow".[2][3]

Horsemaning saw a revival in 2011, along with other photo fads such as planking and owling. All three were considered among the top 10 Facebook sensations of 2011.[4] and a series of horsemaning photos began trending on sites like BuzzFeed as people were inspired to recreate the original fad.


The objective of horsemanning is to make it appear that the photo’s subject has been beheaded. Horsemanning requires two individuals, one situated with one's head hidden (e.g. tilted backwards) with the other hiding his or her body and exposing only his or her head.[5] The resulting photo appears to show a headless body with a disembodied head lying beside it; in fact, it consists of one person's body and a different person's head.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History influencing Pop Culture and strange archival discoveries". Ohio Historical Society Collections.
  2. ^ Ngak, Chenda. "LOL-worthy "horsemaning" photos". CBS News. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  3. ^ "Horsemaning Replaces Owling with 'Headless Horseman'". International Business Times. 2011-08-12. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  4. ^ Balasubramanyam Seshan (2011-12-26). "Top 10 Facebook Sensations of 2011". International Business Times. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  5. ^ Bee-Shyuan Chang (2011-11-21). "No Sag Yet for Planking". The New York Times. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  6. ^ Christine Friar (2011-08-09). "Horsemanning Is The Latest Photo-Posing Trend". Huffington Post.