Archive: HORSES

>please note: some links may no longer be active.

Degas' racehorses

This beautiful one is expected to bring in the neighborhood of $3m. on June 20th at Sotheby's.

Details can be found here.

Sir Alfred Munnings

Most would argue that Munnings (1878-1959) was the finest 20th century equine artist–perhaps the greatest ever. His works regularly generate sums at auction usually associated with names like Picasso or Matisse. If you ever have the chance, try to view his work in person; if you know and love horses, find a way to do so.

The above image is a bit different than some of his better known works. At the same time, Munnings' masterful ability to capture the natural movement of his animal subjects remains a beautiful common denominator.

The work is scheduled to be sold at Christie's on May 20th. It will probably bring somewhere around two million dollars.

Mr. Prospector...

is one of the two most influential Thoroughbred stallions of the last 50 years. Here is a rare photo of "Mr. P." from when he was a yearling (in 1971), and, at the time, known only by his (now famous) pedigree: Raisa A Native–Gold Digger, by Nashua

In the coming weeks I will be creating a gallery of stallion photos, many of which were found in old publications, and will feature important 20th Century influences on the Thoroughbred breed.

As an aside, Mr. Prospector was trained by Warren "Jimmy" Croll, who also trained Holy Bull, the sire of this year's Derby winner Giacomo.

straight pasterns, then and now

It is unusual to find a horse which has close to perfect conformation. The vast majority have flaws of some sort, but most horses (and their owners) live with those flaws without suffering in any meaningful sense. In the world of Thoroughbred racing, however, conformation flaws take on much greater importance as the animals are so fragile and put under such tremendous stress. Many flaws are acceptable, as racehorses can and often do compensate well enough to overcome them. There are a few flaws, though, which are unacceptable, as they are almost certain to prevent a racehorse from standing up to the rigors of training and racing. One such flaw - truly one of the very worst - is when a horse is found to be "straight" through the pasterns. This refers to the angle of the pastern (the bone which connects the hoof to the ankle) on the front legs. The ideal angle is 45°, and provides excellent shock absorption for the front legs (which take the brunt of the physical stress as the body weight is not equally distributed). When a racehorse is even somewhat straight through the pasterns, that shock absorbing capability is severely reduced, so that the shock from the concussion of running is transmitted right up to the ankle and knee joints. As you might imagine, those joints are not designed to handle that level of stress, which is why racehorses with this flaw rarely remain sound.

The photo above, a beautiful 7th-8th century Tang Dynasty pottery figure, is a classic example of a horse with straight pasterns. Of course the animal it was modeled after was not a racehorse, and presumably those types lived very productive lives in spite of that kind flaw. If you like the model, feel free to bid at Christie's on March 30th!

full description of the piece at Christie's (Note: link may no longer be active.)





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