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The Horse World

Foals and Beads: Zebra Conservation Across Two Continents

February 2018

Considering the distances involved, it’s perhaps suprising there’s an intimate connection between a gift shop on the outskirts of Melbourne and communities 11,500 kilometers away in Northern Kenya. Another potentially unexpected aspect of this relationship is that it’s founded on beads.

Sublime Passions: Delacroix’s Horses

July 2018

I first saw Horses Coming out of the Sea when I was two or three years old, and I hold it entirely responsible for my love of both horses and art.  It featured in my first picture-books, the ground-breaking ‘Masters of Colour’ part-work series, published by Fabbri in the mid-1960’s in affordable weekly editions, each with 16 superbly-printed colour plates. My mother, keen to bring culture, or at least distraction, to my baby sister and me, eagerly subscribed to it at the local newsagent. 

Mules: Part 2

June 2018

Last month, I explained the origins of donkeys, mules and horses, and the unique differences in their intelligence, appearance, diet and disposition. In case you missed it, you can read it here. This month, I continue my discussion on the distinctive adaptations of today’s donkey, mule and horse.

George Morland: Hack or Hero?

May 2018

It’s true that some people do end up looking like their dogs; but like their horses too?  Above, we see a portrait of a favourite elderly white rescue horse and, above right, a sketch of the artist who owned and painted this horse.  If we look carefully, we can see between the horse and the human the same heavily-lidded eyes that look like they’ve ‘seen it all’, the same three-quarter profile angle, the same fleshy, sensual lips and the same world-weary facial expression. 

Stable Relationships

April 2018

Edwin Landseer’s The Shrew Tamed (also known as The Pretty Horse Breaker), on first sight, seems to be a study in interspecies harmony, affection and trust. It’s a beautifully serene work, and Landseer’s handling of the paintwork in the straw, and on the mare’s silken coat and bay dapples is exquisite.  We also see his hallmark of endowing animals with expressive characters as nuanced and significant as in human portraiture of that period. 

Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath

March 2018

Few race horses have been as masterfully painted in their winning moment as ‘Gimcrack’. Here, Stubbs paints this fabled grandson of the Godolphin Arabian in front of a Newmarket ‘rubbing house’, or race-day stable, flanks heaving, veins popping, sweat drenched, held by his trainer, with a stable boy putting down straw for him to urinate on.  On the right, we see him again, about 10 minutes earlier, dashing past the winner’s post in front of the stadium and winning the race by lengths. 

Horses, Boys and Girls

February 2018

In many parts of the world, hobby horses are for women, work horses are for men. To get an estimate of the sex composition of any discipline, get out your pencil and count the number of males and number of females you see in Google Images when you search for various words or phrases. To see if women own the world of hobby horses, search for “pleasure horse” and “work horse” in Google Images. Rider sex is not evenly distributed across disciplines. Disciplines such as dressage, show jumping and trail riding differentially draw males and females.

On the Beat

October 2017

Horses have been part of policing in Victoria since 1836. Today, despite the advent of high-tech law enforcement involving drones and advanced software, the Mounted Branch of Victoria Police continues to play an integral role in the organisation - and Sergeant Michelle Turner believes technology will never replace police horses.

The Moyle Horse of Idaho

March 2017

I started on the quest to find out about horses possessing ‘horns’; more accurately, frontal skull bosses (small bony bumps covered by skin and hair that occur on the forehead) after reading the following sentence in a 2007 article by Beverly Davis11:  “Bucephalus means ‘ox-head’ and it is possible the name might come from the calcium ‘horns’ that are found on the foreheads of horses descended from the Persian.” My research led me to the Moyle horse, a rare breed which was known to regularly exhibit these frontal skull bosses... 

Horsing Around the World: Wicken Fen, United Kingdom

December 2016

There’s nothing like the practical experience of travelling, visiting and talking with horsemen and women in different countries to learn how they work with horses and their land.  Jane and Stuart Myers share their experience of a visit to the Konik ponies at Wicken Fen, Norfok, United Kingdom, where ponies and cattle are being 'used' to manage and restore the wetlands.


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