Monday, August 22, 2016

Equine Anatomy and Biomechanics: A Primer of Equine Engineering Part II, Terminology


Welcome back to this 17-part series exploring equine structure and mechanics. Months previous, we learned how to use anatomy charts more effectively. We've discussed how anatomy and conformation aren't synonymous. We also discovered the significance of viability and functionality. We also learned how to organize our creative process to best facilitate accuracy. We've also considered the spectrum of believability when it comes to realism,  and the Five Ps, or components that steer us towards more realism. We even learned about some common artistic errors in realistic equine sculptureThat was a lot to chew on, wasn't it?

Well, in this series we'll move beyond this rudimentary understanding and move into an intermediate-level of discussion. For that reason, this Part II will present some common anatomical terminology. Researching equine structure will inevitably present us with funky terms that refer to anatomical locations and orientations. We should be familiarized with such terminology so we can better decipher anatomical texts and visualize how anatomy is put together in our heads and in our sculptures. 

Now it should be mentioned that this terminology is often different between texts or resources. We have to remember that each dissection entails a new person trying to make logical sense out of chaotic, organic nature. That means that some terminology might be different, or anatomical structures may be organized in different ways. That's okay. If we have a firm grasp of the structures themselves, then transferring that understanding from text to text and diagram to diagram will be easier and more accurate. Everyone has their own way of doing it, and eventually we'll discover our own.

So to help us understand many of the structures presented in this series, let's discover some directional terminology and anatomical definitions...

Chart of Joint Locations

Directional Terms

These are common terms we'll encounter in anatomical text so it's a good idea to be familiar with them. They may also be combined to best describe the location or orientation of a structure.

Anatomical Planes

The main reference planes are the:
  • Median Plane: Bisects the animal into symmetrical right and left halves. Any plane parallel to the median plane is called the...
  • Sagittal plane: Any plane parallel to the median plane.
  • Dorsal Plane: A parallel line that symmetrically divides the animal dorsally and ventrally, into a top and bottom half.
  • Transverse Plane: Transects the animal perpendicular to its own length, creating a a front half and back half. With the horse, also called the Coronal, Cross Section, or Frontal Plane.
  • Oblique Plane: A plane at an angle.
The main orientation terms are the:
  • Medial: Towards the median plane.
  • Lateral: Away the median plane.
  • Ventral Plane: Towards the underside. 
  • Dorsal: Towards the topside.
  • Cranial: Towards the head.
  • Caudal: Towards the tail. 
  • Rostral: Towards the nose.
  • Proximal: In reference to the limbs, those aspects closest to the body.
  • Distal: In reference to the limbs, those aspects away from the body.
  • Palmar or Volar: In reference to the lower limbs, the back or bottom of the forelimb. 
  • Plantar: In reference to the lower limbs: the back or bottom of the hindlimb.
  • Volar flexion: Flexion bent backwards.
  • Dorsal flexion: Flexion bent forwards, often in relation to hyperextension from weight-bearing.
  • Anterior: "In front of."
  • Posterior: "In back of."
  • Superior: An area up and towards the head.
  • Inferior: An area towards the feet.
  • External: All those aspects towards the surface of the body.
  • Internal: All those aspects towards the inside of the body.
  • Superficial: Those aspects towards the skin surface.
  • Deep:Those aspects away from the skin surface.
  • Adaxial: Those aspects towards the axis of the body.
  • Abaxial: Those aspects away from the axis of the body.
  • Ipsilateral: The same side of the body.
  • Collateral: The other side of the body, referring to pairs.
  • Adduct: In reference to movement, to draw towards the medial plane.
  • Abduct: In reference to movement, to move away from the medial plane.
  • Bilateral: Refers to paired body parts such as either side of the head, the legs, and the body, for instance.

Approximately two hundred and five bones make up the equine skeleton. The knee of the horse’s foreleg corresponds to the human wrist, and the hock corresponds to the human ankle. The cannons bones are equivalent to the bones in the palm of the human hand or instep of the foot. In both cases, the cannon bone corresponds to the middle, and longest, of the five bones in the human hand and foot. The first and second phalanges are a modification of the middle fingers or toes, and the coffin bone corresponds to the last finger or toe bone. The hoof is a modified version of the human fingernail or toenail.

Bone is the internal support system for muscles and fleshy tissues. There are five basic types:
Long bones: Act as levers to support and move the body. Example: femur.
Flat bones: Protect organs and provide attachments for flesh. Example: cranium. 
Short bones: Absorb shock. Example: knee and hock.
Irregular bones: Protect the spinal cord. Example: spine. 
Sesamoid bones: Increase torque and keep tendon insertions at a constant angle. Examples: sesamoids and navicular bone.

There are terms that describe the different parts of bone. Sometimes these parts, such as protrusions and ridges, are subcutaneous boney landmarks on the surface of the animal. The bony parts are described as:
  • Angle: A corner in a bone. The inferior (lower) and superior angle (upper).
  • Body: The main portion of a bone.
  • Crest: Prominent border or ridge.
  • Line: Similar to a crest, but not raised as much; can be relatively faint.
  • Diaphysis: Main section or shaft of a long bone.
  • Epiphysis: The end part of a long bone, usually with a larger diameter.
  • Facet: A smooth, flat articular surface.
  • Lacunae: A cavity or depression in bone.
  • Canaliculi: A small channel or duct in bone.
  • Fissure: A long, crack-like hole for nerves and blood vessels.
  • Foramen (pl. foramina): A round hole through which nerves, blood vessels, or ligaments pass.
  • Fossa (pl. fossae): A depression or hollow in a bone. 
  • Malleolus: A bony projection with a hammer-head shape, often at the end of a bone.
  • Tuberosity: Large round nodule or oblong projection that looks like a raised bump that are attachment for muscles, tendons, or ligaments; larger than a tubercle.
  • Tubercle: Small tuberosity that's a round nodule or warty outgrowth to act as an attachment for connective tissue such as muscles, ligaments, or tendons.
  • Condyle: A rounded, smooth prominence at the end of a bone where if forms a joint with another bone.
  • Intercondylar notch: The channel between two condyles.
  • Epicondyle: A "bump on a bump," a rounded projection located on or above a condyle and typically serving as an attachment location for ligaments and tendons.
  • Trochanter: A large, blunt protrusion at the proximal and lateral part of the shaft of the femur; larger than a tuberosity.
  • Greater: Larger, as in Greater Trochanter.
  • Lesser: Smaller, as in Lesser Trochanter.
  • Intertrochanteric line: A line on the anterior side of the proximal end of the femur.
  • Intertrochanteric crest: A bony ridge on the posterior side of the femur's head, stretching down and medially from the top of the great trochanter to the lesser trochanter. With the intertrochanteric line on the anterior side of the bone's head, they mark the transition between the femur's neck and the femur's shaft.
  • Head: The ball of a ball and socket joint.
  • Margin: Edge of a flat bone.
  • Meatus (pl. meati): A tube-like opening or channel extending within a bone.
  • Neck: The narrowed section of long bone between the head and the shaft, usually at the base of the head.
  • Septum (pl. septa): The dividing wall that separates tissues or cavities.
  • Notch: A V-like depression in the margin or edge of a flat area.
  • Process: A raised area or projection.
  • Ramus (pl. rami): Curved portion of bone.
  • Fovea (pl. foveae): A cup-like depression or pit in a bone.
  • Sinus: Cavity within a bone.
  • Sulcus (pl. sulci): A groove, crevice, or furrow to accommodate a nerve, tendon, or blood vessel.
  • Linea aspera: A prominent ridge, crest, or roughened surface on the middle third of the posterior side of the femur to which muscles and the inter-muscular septa attach.
Some bones, like those of the neck and back have what are called "processes." These serve as important connection points for muscles, tendons, and ligaments and, therefore, are important levers for soft tissues to articulate. There are two different basic types of processes:
  • Spinal processes: Branches or slender projections of bone that divert upwards, slanting either upright, forwards or backwards. Seen on the top of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae.
  • Transverse processes: Branches or slender projections of bone that divert out and laterally, slanting either straight outwards, forwards and/or backwards. Seen on the sides of the cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral vertebrae.

When two or more bones join together, they form a joint. Joints are the mechanisms of movement; without them motion would be impossible. As such, joints may be immovable, slightly moveable, or very moveable depending on their structure and fleshy connections. Joints also absorb shock and serve as connectors and linkages. The equine has lots of flexible joints, varying in degrees of motility.

Each joint's location and parameters of motion are unique, and collectively define equine motion. Yet no joint in the equine operates independently, or in other words, all joints involve the movement of other joints or affect another portion of the body. The jaw joint is the only one with the least amount of influence in this way. Therefore, it's important to understand the location and nature of the joints to understand equine biomechanics because they act as a series of symbiotic systems that also work as a symbiotic whole.  

Basic terms related to joints:
  • Male surface: Convex surface of a joint.
  • Female surface: Concave surface of a joint.
  • Simple joint: Having two articulating surfaces; male and female.
  • Compound joint: Having more than two articulating surfaces.
  • Degrees of freedom: The number of axes in which the bone in a joint can move.
Joints are categorized in two basic ways, by their design and by their motion. Basic design of joints:
  • Ovoid: When one oval, or egg-shaped male surface fits into another oval female surface, permitting movements in two planes allowing flexion, extension, abduction, adduction, and circumduction. Also called a condyloid joint, or ellipsoidal joint, or bicondylar joint. Example: Joint between the Scapula and Humerus.
  • Saddle-shaped: Convex in one plane and concave in the perpendicular plane, with a saddle-like articular surface. Allows motion on the sagittal and frontal planes. Example: Pastern and coffin joints.
  • Ball and Socket: When a bony ball fits into a cup-like socket of another bone. Although motion is restricted by the nature of the ball and cup-like receptacle, these tend to provide the greatest range of movement. Also called a circumduction joint or spheroidal joint. Example: Joint between the pelvis and the femur.
  • Gliding: When an even surface of two bones glide along each other, allowing for mobility in one or two directions without any circular motion. Example: patella.
  • Hinge: The most simple form of joint, it produces only flexion and extension. Also called a planar joint. Example: elbow.
  • Pivot: When a round or conical part of a bone fits into a ring formed by a bone or tendon, permitting rotation only. Example: The joint between the Atlas and Axis vertebrae. 
  • Bicondylar: Biaxial joint with a degree off motion that differs within each axis because of asymmetrical formations, but primarily moves in one plane. Example: stifle.
  • Synarcosis: A joint that’s formed by muscle attachment and multiaxial. Example: shoulder sling.
Basic types of joint motion:
  • Uniaxial joints: Motion in one plane. 
  • Biaxial joints: Motion in two planes. 
  • Multiaxial joints: Motion in three planes. 
  • Chord: The shortest path between two points within a joint.
  • Arc: The longest path between to points within a joint.
  • Angular motion: Makes bones closer or farther apart from each other. There are four types: "Flexion" which is closing the angles of a joint, "extension" which is opening the angles of a joint, "adduction" which is movement towards the median of the body, and "abduction" which is movement away from the median of the body.
  • Rotation: Spinning of the bone in the joint on a longitudinal axis. The revolving of a bone around an axis. Two types of rotational motion in the horse are "internal rotation" and "external rotation." Internal rotation is towards the axis of the body whereas external rotation is away from the axis of the body. When rotation is independent of other movements it is called "adjunct rotation" or when rotation is dependent on other movements it is called "conjunct rotation." Rotation most often concerns the limbs, spine, and neck of the horse.
  • Co-spin: When the effect of adjunct rotation adds to the normal spin.
  • Anti-spin: When the effect of adjunct rotation nullifies the normal spin.
  • Translational motion: A gliding motion as one articular surface slides over another. It often serves as a shock absorber such as with the shoulder or hock joint.
  • Circumduction: Making conical circles with a long bone in the joint.
  • Pure swing: Having no spin, traces the path of a chord; also called a Cardinal swing.
  • Impure swing: Having a spin, traces the path of an arc; also called an Arcuate swing.
  • Flexion: The bending of a joint or series of joints.
  • Extension: The straightening of a joint or series of joints. 
[Note: Flexion and extension dovetail into the terms flexor and extensor; flexor refers to flesh that creates flexion of a joint (decrease the angle of the joint) and extensor refers to flesh that straightens the joint (increase the angle of the joint).]

There are some basic concepts to understand regarding movement such as...

  • Center of Gravity: The horse’s center of gravity is located approximately near the center of the ribcage, behind the girth area. It's estimated that the horse carries approximately 60% of his weight on the forehand.
  • Logic of Design: Relates to the biological "rationale" behind the evolution of the animal's body to adapt to his lifestyle and habitat. For this reason, the equine is considered a prey animal so his logic of design is constructed for the flight response.
  • Base of gait: Refers to how far apart the horse’s feet are, as determined by front or rear inspection. The base of gait is dependent on an animal’s individual conformation; a wide-chested horse will have a wide base of gait and a narrow-chested horse will have a narrow base of gait. Base of gait is also dependent on motion; a rearing horse will have a wide base of gait in the hindlegs for stability and speed tends to narrow the base of gait, bringing the legs towards the median plane. 
  • Angle of gait: Refers to the angle of the legs in relation to the medial plane. Depending on speed, the equine should have an angle of gait in the forelegs and the hindleg, from the stifle down, towards the median at impact. The faster the gait, the more towards the median the leg tends to impact as a function of natural coordination.
  • Action: The style of motion, characteristically an expression of his build or mood.
  • Cursorial: Another term for "running," as in "cursorial lifestyle."
Phase of Gait 
  • Landing or Impact Phase: The support phase for the body as the foot lands and the leg begins to accept weight. This creates the sound characteristically heard as a “beat"...
  • Loading Phase: When the body moves over the foot, pressing weight, and force of motion down through the limb. This is usually the moment of maximum flexion of the foot joints. Each loading phase is a "beat."
  • Stance Phase: The foot bones spring up to comparable angulations when at rest as the body moves in front of the foot; usually the most stressful point for the structures in the foot.
  • Heel Lift Phase: The moment when the heel lifts as the limb is about to be flexed and the toe begins its pivot for the swing phase.
  • Breakover Phase: When the toe is in full breakover and the limb is being actively flexed.
  • Suspension or Swing Phase: When the leg is flexed and is lifted off the ground to swing forward and extend in preparation for the next Landing Phase. Suspension should count as a beat and it’s also the only time when the horse can change the placement of his foot, i.e. change his direction or gait. Also, suspension isn’t a rest period, as often misinterpreted. 
  • Stride: The cycle of motion of one leg from the Landing through to the Swing Phase to the Landing Phase.
  • Marching: A gait with a measured footfall with at least one foot always on the ground.
  • Suspension: The moment in a stride when all four feet are off the ground.
  • Diagonal: The synchronized stride of opposing pairs of feet (such as the right fore and left hind then the left fore and right hind at the trot).
Gaits (counting the suspension period)
  • Walk: A four-beat symmetrical marching gait with no suspension. The spine’s rotary nature is showcased at the walk in a “rocking boat” type of motion in the saddle. The walk can become pacey if the horse is stiff.
  • Trot: A four-beat symmetrical suspension gait with alternating diagonals; two beats and two suspension periods. The spinal motion of side to side is showcased but also having an up and down motion along with rotation motion.
  • Gaited: The same footfall pattern as a walk, gaitedness is literally walking with more energy. Gaited footfalls can become pacey if the horse becomes stiff. 
  • Pace: A lateral four-beat symmetrical suspension gait where the legs on each side move in unison, two beats and two suspension periods.
  • Canter: A four-beat assymetrical suspension gait with one set of diagonals; three beats and one suspension period. The most energy efficient gait for the horse. The spine’s up and down flexion is characteristic of the canter along with coiling of the loins; the horse must coil his loins to canter.
  • Gallop: A five-beat assymetrical suspension gait when the horse is at full speed and using all four feet to gain maximum speed; four beats and one suspension period. Horses that are able to deeply coil their loins and recapture collection with each stride make the fastest runners. 
Gait Terms
  • Beat: Beat refers to the moment when a hoof hits the ground; it’s often heard and can be counted. The pattern of beats, or footfall, distinguishes a gait from others while the speed of the footfall distinguishes the speed of the gait. 
  • Rhythm: The regularity of the beats, another way of describing the pattern of footfall or beats.
  • Tempo: This term describes either the speed of the rhythm, whether being fast, medium or slow, relative to each individual horse or the speed of the gait. Also referred to as “rapidity."
  • Cadence: The number of beats per minute or the clarity of rhythm in terms of the horse’s ability to produce a footfall pattern that’s definite, clear, and “confident." Also referred to as “regularity."
  • Travel or Path: The path of the hoof flight as compared to the median and other limbs, as viewed from the front or rear; related to Angle of Gait.
  • Directness: The straightness with which the limb travels forward, as viewed from the front; related to Angle of Gait.
  • Height or Arc: The height of the arc of the stride when viewed from the side; how high the foot is lifted in motion.
  • Placement: How the horse places his food during the Landing Phase.
  • Overtrack or Tracking Up: How far the prints of the hindhoof over-shoot the prints of the forehoof.
Athleticism of Motion
  • Impulsion: Impulsion derives its meaning from the German word relating to rocketry. Unlike the misconceptions of modern understanding of the word, because modern riding has largely been pirated by “push-pull” riding (or "frame" riding), the term doesn’t mean to go forward or even to go forwards faster; it doesn’t mean forwards thrust. Instead, it means upwards thrust, to go up. Therefore, impulsion relates to the horse’s ability to bounce or be springy upwards, to be light on the forehand, a direct result of bascule or roundness. 
  • Engagement: Refers to how deeply and completely the horse is using his hindquarter via the coiling of his loins, sometimes gauged by observing the flexion of the hindlegs. This is closely related to impulsion and can sometimes be regarded as the same thing.
  • Power: The forces that are propelling, thrusting, or balancing the horse.
  • Suppleness: The controlled and athletic flexibility of the horse, a positive influence on motion; a stiff horse has an inferior quality of motion.
  • Lightness: Spring and “float” of the forehand in motion; directly caused by bascule so that base of his neck is higher or of equal distance from the ground as his coiled loins.
  • Freedom of Movement: How far the horse can reach with his forelegs and hindlegs, in all directions, during motion. This permits fluid athletic motion and is a product of impulsion, suppleness, and bascule.
  • Energy of Gait: The “oompf” or energy level of the strides. In the trot, this can sometimes lead to a slight disconnect of the timing in the landing phase of the fore and hind hooves, which is a natural outcome; it’s not a fault or indication of inferior gaits or fitness. Some biomechanical or dressage text will argue otherwise, but this is because they’re taking a “robotic” regional approach rather than a “living” systems approach, losing sight of the living nature of equine motion. In essence, they’re a bit misguided on how the horse really works as a whole, especially in bascule. Energy of Gait also relates to gaitedness, which by sharing the same footfall pattern as walking, can simply be considered as walking with more “brio."
  • Straightness: When the sternum is centered between the horse’s elbows and is key for achieving bascule. Roundness is a by-product of straightness, not visa versa.
  • Crookedness: When the horse isn’t centered on his sternum and habitually leans to one side in motion. Leaners often have a flared hoof on the favored, leaned-to side with a clubfoot on the other. A leaner's head and neck will also veer towards their favored side, particularly during a turn. A crooked horse cannot achieve bascule or quality gaits because he doesn't move “plumb” to his build.
  • Symmetrical Motion: Motion that is evenly balanced, placed, timed, and weighted; a characteristic of straightness.
  • Assymetrical Motion: Motion that is unevenly placed, timed, and weighted; a characteristic of crookedness. Also referred to as “being off” without clinical signs of injury. Lameness is a clear example of asymmetry of motion (one step long and one step short).  
  • Bascule, Self-Carriage, Carriage, Collection, or Roundness: A particular posture of the vertebral chain that reinstates its original anatomical arch, letting the horse carry a rider with agility, lightness, and athleticism without longterm pathology. To achieve bascule, the horse must attain certain things. First, he must coil his loins by flexing the LS-joint. This is also called “flexion of the loins," “engagement of the the hindquarter," “engaging the hocks," or to “break down in the back.” Second, bascule is continued when loin coiling lifts the center of his back, a nearly simultaneous reaction. And third, bascule follows through when he raises the base of his neck, arching his entire cervical vertebrae and dropping his head at the poll. His tail also becomes arched in a passive response to the use of his spine, called a "rainbow tail." All quality ridden motion originates in bascule.
  • Hollow, Stiff, Above the Bit, or Inverted Frame: The opposite of bascule, indicative of a tight, stiff back with a bracing stiff neck and poll. He often carries his head high because the base of his neck is very low due to uncoiled loins. He’s also usually hurried, anxious, in pain and therefore difficult to ride both physically and emotionally. This type of frame is often pathological and leads to permanent physical damage. All poor quality ridden motion originates with an inverted frame. "False collection" is created by an inverted frame.
  • On the Forehand: A horse that lacks self-carriage, leaning onto his forehand to pull himself along rather than carrying himself with his hindquarter to push himself along. His head is often lowered with a low base of neck and his hindlegs seem to trail behind. This can lead to pathologies, even those of the forelimb.
  • Rollkur: When the horse's head is pulled beyond the vertical, often touching his chest. Erroneously believed to create roundness, this misguided practice causes physical and psychological harm to the horse. Unfortunately, however, it's ubiquitous in modern dressage training.
  • Behind the Bit or False Collection: Typical with rollkur, this is a posture that looks like collection to the unawares, but it's really a bad posture for the horse that hurts him physically and psychologically. It's basically an Inverted Frame, only the head is cranked in beyond the vertical, nose to chest.
  • “Broken Neck Syndrome”: Flexion at C2-C3 rather that a lifting of the base of the neck and flexion at the poll. Also referred to as “Double Hinge Neck." Typical of rollkur or "push-pull" or "frame" riding.
  • False Extension: An extended gait in the Inverted Frame. At the trot, for example, the horse will typically flick up his front hooves at the end of protraction and bend at the knee before breakover at retraction, trailing with his hindlegs. He may also be pacey at the walk.
Extension vs Collection
  • Collected: When bascule is recovered at every stride, allowing the up and down occilations of the spine to be neutral, with a high roundness, and slower and higher steps.
  • Working Gait: A mild version of deep collection; a more “working” everyday version of high school degrees of collection. In short, having a bit more up and down occilations of the spine and recovering bascule at every stride.
  • Medium Gait: A more extended version of collection, but not in full extension; having a back that occiliates somewhat more in the entire range of motion and recovering bascule at every stride.
  • Extended Gait: A fully extended mode of motion in which the back oscillates through the entire range of motion from low to high with each stride. The risk is that bascule may not be recovered with each stride, commonly leading to false extension. 
Modes of Balance:
  • Lateral Balance: Side-to-side balance or agility manifested at motion. Bascule facilitates maximum lateral balance by creating lightness which frees the forehand to reach out to change direction or maintain balance. Also, the more engaged the horse’s inside hindleg, the more agile he is in a turn.
  • Longitudinal Flexion: Front-to-back balance, another term for collection, see below. This gives the horse coiling power and stored energy, enhancing athleticism and the quality of his gaits. 
  • Lateral Flexion or Bending: Despite what many believe, the horse cannot bend in a smooth, even curve, but in a series of kinks. In reality, the horse’s spine isn’t built for lateral flexion, but for coiling. Nonetheless, with the small degree of lateral flexion it can produce, it can greatly enhance the quality of motion. Specifically, while the joint between the skull and the 1st cervical vertebra may only be able to do a "yes" motion, there's a minor degree of lateral slippage when the head is tucked. This is referred to as "twirling of the head." Then the rest of the neck from C4-C7 has a great deal of lateral flexion. In turn, the thoracic vertebrae has the greatest degree of lateral bend before the T13 while the lumbar have barely any and the sacrum has none. The tail has a great deal of lateral bend. The horse also pushes his ribcage outward, "banking into the turn" or "riding the rim" of a lateral bend, stepping deeply under himself with his inside hindleg and “following through” with his poll. Maximum lateral flexion can only be achieved with bascule which allows the spine to assume more flexible postures. Bascule also allows him to bring his inside hindleg under himself more, enhancing his ability to turn.
  • Headset: How the horse carries his head and neck in motion. Often misinterpreted to be the originator of bascule (“If I could get his head down then he’ll be collected”), which is a common fallacy. Headset is a result of bascule and not visa-versa. Also, the elevation of the poll isn’t relevant to a “correct” head set, only the raising of the base of the neck. Indeed, the rider can “put the poll” wherever she wants as long as the base of the neck remains raised.
  • On the Bit or On the Bridle: Originally a metaphor for moving in collection it’s now commonly misinterpreted as having constant contact with the bit (typically with tension on both reins), a common culprit in “push-pull” riding. There’s no need for a bit to achieve collection nor is collection maintained by pulling on the reins to maintain "contact." Indeed, a horse can maintain self-carriage even on a loose rein.
  • Frame: This term was originally a metaphor for how an individual horse was moving according to his build, whether in a collected frame, extended frame, etc. However, the term today has been corrupted to facilitate "push-pull" riding and justify ideas about "suitability." 
  • Elastic Ride: The springiness of the strides as a result of lightness. However, the elasticity of a ride is often attributed to the suspensory mechanisms of the horse’s legs or the slope of his pasterns, neither of which is correct. His suspensory mechanisms weren’t designed that way, plus many horses with steeply sloped pasterns have produced wonderful elastic rides. In fact, elasticity is a product of the suppleness and relaxation of the Shoulder Sling as a result of proper schooling. 
  • Suitability: The idea that some conformational builds are "suitable" for certain disciplines, most notably dressage. The truth is, there's no such thing as suitability. All horses can do all horse motions. Granted, some conformational types do certain motions with a certain style, but skilled horsemanship can take even a cart horse to haute ecole or Grand Prix level. 
  • Arched Tail: Sometimes called a “Rainbow Tail," this term refers to the desireable arch to the tail bones as a passive response to bascule.
  • Flagged Tail: When the tailbone is held upright or curled over, which often happens when the animal is excited.
  • Schwung: A German word describing the swinging motion of the ribcage that's caused by the oscillations of the spine in bascule. A loss of Schwung creates a pacey, hurried, unbalanced, or stiff gait due to a stiff spine.
  • Spiritual Movement: Movement that's joyful and enthusiastic due to proper bascule.
  • Mechanical Movement: Movement that's uninspired and forced as a result of false collection.

Conclusion to Part II

It's a lot to digest, isn't it? We deal with a lot of horse terms every day, and they're used to describe any number of aspects about our subject. So familiarize yourself with them then, and next time we'll discuss tissues. Then after that, we'll travel back in time to see what makes a horse a horse—and why. 

Now one might wonder why we need a discussion about evolution for a discussion about equine anatomy and biomechanics, and the truth is: it's all about context. It's not enough to know how the equine is built and moves, but perhaps even more importantly, we need to know the why. Once we understand that, the natural logic of his body prevents us from exaggerating type or movement to unhealthy degrees we so often see in life or in art so we can portray the subject responsibly and compassionately.

So until next time...tease yourself with terminology!

"Nature puts leaves on trees and they are, none of them, exactly alike; like people, endless variations on a theme. In that sense, nature does the art thing better than we do."

~ Eva Kosinski


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Equine Anatomy and Biomechanics: A Primer of Equine Engineering Part I, Overview

A page from the popular "Ellenberger book," a must-have for the realistic equine sculptor.


A bit ago, we explored some basic equine anatomy and biomechanics topics. It was a simple primer to wet the appetite, so how 'bout we get something heftier to chew on? Let's go beyond the amuse-bouche and chow on the entree!

This seventeen part series will explore some more advanced topics regarding equine anatomy, those the intermediate learner would find interesting. Because of this, the writing is more technical and the concepts are more interdisciplinary, so be ready for tangents and more in-depth discussions.

As we learn more about the subject, it becomes clear just what a masterpiece of bioengineering is the equine. Truly, there's no other animal quite like him—he's unique in his combination of beauty, athleticism, agility, power, endurance, intelligence, trainability, and speed. He's perfect. Absolutely perfect. Indeed, there's no other large herbivore that can match his qualities, and to think he does it all on four single-toed hooves. Amazing! He's one of the last of his family, one which was uncountably vast in the past but today has diminished to only a handful of species. He's a treasure from ancient times, something to revere and hold in awe. This animal, this perfect archaic creature, has survived the eons to become an integral part of a new species—us! 

So let's get to the good stuff!...


Anatomy is the physical engineering of the animal and biomechanics is the kinetic expression of that engineering. These two elements are the primary components of a convincing realistic equine sculpture. Without technical accuracy in these, our sculpture will have errors in realism, or if the features are skewed enough, we won't be portraying a horse at all. This is why anatomy and biomechanics are our first priorities when creating realistic equine art.

Anatomy and biomechanics are often confused with conformationthis is an error. While they share some overlapping issues, that doesn't mean they're synonymous. Really, they're quite different. Succinctly put, anatomy and biomechanics are the result of equine evolution; they define the genus as EquusAn equine moves like an equine and not like a gnu, elephant, or cat because he's built like an equine. So despite breed, type, or conditioning, an equine is an equine due to this unique anatomical blueprint. Indeed, the anatomy and biomechanics of a Clydesdale, Morgan, Paso and Dartmoor Pony are the same; they look and move like equines because of their shared blueprint. Think of it this way—it's true for us as well. Look around: there exists a diverse spectrum of shapes, sizes, colors, builds, and races, yet we are all homo sapien. Well, the same is true for equines.

In contrast, conformation pertains to the superficial variations of the anatomical blueprint that determine a breed, type, or style of motion. In other words, it's that which is manipulated by people to suit a purpose or aesthetic. And despite selective breeding, we cannot change the intrinsic qualities that define the blueprint; otherwise the animal ceases to be an equine.

What does this mean? It means that anatomy and biomechanics are the foundation of equine realism. It also means that conformation is merely one layer we stack onto that foundation. Other layers may be expression, color or pattern, or composition and design, etc. But it also means that a sculpture can be beautifully conformed and have exceptional breed type, but still be unrealistic because of errors in technical anatomy. On the other hand, if we create a technically accurate piece with conformation faults, we've still created a realistic piece simply because this occurs in life with horses. So because anatomy and biomechanics are so intrinsic to equine realism, an artist working in the field needs to have an expansive understanding of them.

For this reason, this blog series provides a basic overview of the general principles of anatomy and biomechanics. Primarily, it will addresses basic skeletal structure, joint function, biomechanics and common problem areas typically seen in sculptures. However, inventories of muscles and other flesh are very basic, not delving into all of them or detailing their originations or insertions. Subsequently, it's highly encouraged to dive into proactive research to gain a deeper understanding of equine structure and motion.

Now when it comes to anatomical references, understand that different references often identify anatomical points by different names. Each dissection is an individual person trying to make sense of organic nature, and that often means there are differences in interpretation and naming. As such, a good mental image of the anatomical bits themselves is more important than knowing their names. Not only does this help our process better, but it also helps us to identify specific structures across different resources, too. 

Life study and field work are enthusiastically encouraged as well. “Booksmarts” is useful, but limited in its scope and depth. Booksmarts married with intent life study married with a hands-on approach tends to be the best route for revealing the nuances and truths about equine anatomy and biomechanics...and character! Don't forget about his nature and quirky personality! And above all, life study reminds us that the animal himself is the very best teacher and guide. 

As for the anatomical structures themselves, each one is broken down into six segments:
  1. A general description of the skeletal structure.
  2. A brief inventory of the major muscles of the area (not all).
  3. The biomechanics of the area.
  4. Key landmarks and topographical points.
  5. A discussion of artistic things to consider about the area.
  6. A discussion of the common artistic faults of said area. 
The last two points are unique to equine art since they evaluate the creations of human hands, not the product of equine DNA. It's a very different thing to gauge what's going on between a realistic equine sculpture and a real, living horse. The issues of artistic technique, media, creative skill, scale, the Five Ps, technical anatomy, DABPPRR, correct biomechanics, accurate color and patterning, the spectrum of realism, a living "soul," etc. all come into play. And the list goes on and on. 

That means entire subjects that are essential for judging sculptures are omitted entirely from judging real horses. For instance, those who judge real horses can take the very things for granted that are critical for equine realism: anatomy, biomechanics, and color genetics. No real horse judge will have to determine if the internal tuberosity of the left radius is present and correctly structured and oriented, for example, because it's already so on the living animal. Likewise, no real horse judge will need to decide if the mapping on pintos has in-scale mottling and ticking because it's already so on the real pintos being evaluated.

And this is just the tip of the ice berg. But this is how we get into trouble when we think we're judging realistic equine sculpture as real horses. That's because if we judge them like so, all we'd consider is conformation, breed type, accepted color or pattern, and preferred motion because that's all a real horse judge evaluates. But realistic equine sculpture entails so much more.  

This is precisely why our knowledge base must be so much deeper, more expansive, and much more interdisciplinary that just about any real horse judge. We simply have more to juggle with our creative determinations. And this is also why our learning should never stop. Science is continually learning fascinating new things about equine structure, movement, and color genetics, and to fall behind in this regard is to do our art a disservice. The moment we believe we "know enough," or "I've always done it this way," is the moment we've chosen an artistic plateau over innovation. And that's a dangerous trap. 

Conclusion to Part I

It's hoped that this series inspires proactive research and study into the technical aspects of equine structure and movement to not only heighten our understanding of such things, but to gain a new appreciation for this marvel of bioengineering we so love. There really is so much more to a horse than many people realize! And once we come to understand his technical structure, we also gain a peek into his evolutionary history, something ripe with fascinating tidbits! Then when we understand his evolutionary past, we finally have the last piece of the puzzle to see the full breadth of his body, psyche, and movement. We finally know the why.

So for this reason, this series includes an overview of his evolution as well, which we'll get to in Part V. We simply cannot fully understand his anatomy and biomechanics (or psyche) without some grasp of this. Yet it's precisely this that so many people have an incomplete understanding of, and so they miss out on the full scope this animal can teach us.

But back to Part II—next week
here we'll familiarize ourselves with some typical anatomical terminology so we understand them better for anatomical study. It's always handy to know.

So until next time...prepare your noggin for anatomical mayhem!

"Today's accomplishments are merely yesterday's impossibilities."

~ Robert H. Schullerd


Monday, August 1, 2016

Breyerfest and NAN 2016: There And Back Again

Every once upon a time, life presents you with an adventure...something you've never done before which seems ridiculously daunting. That adventure for me was the two-and-a-half day drive to NAN and Breyerfest 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky, and then the return trip. We couldn't fly because my husband gets a bad reaction to the pressure change that gives him vertigo for weeks afterwards, so we were forced to drive. 

Now the catch is I'm someone who has a hard time staying sane sitting in a car for long periods of time. I'm the type that has to do something, not just sit around doing absolutely nothing other than look out a window at passing cornfields. And there were a lot of cornfields. So as we piled into the rental car, ready to take off, I took a deep breath and steeled myself for what I expected to be miles upon miles of torture.

But much to my surprise. It wasn't. It was an adventure. Something I'd never done before, and in that spirit it was entertaining. Even more so since I was sharing it with hubby, who did all the driving (bless him). I've always flown to Kentucky for this annual event, so this was the first time I've been through these states and experienced the changing landscapes. 

We had two long days and a third "short" day to arrive into Lexington Tuesday afternoon, to meet up with my Mom, who flew in to help me (along with hubby) with my Vintage Custom show I held in conjunction with NAN on Wednesday, July 20. The trip was (thankfully) uneventful and flowed nicely. The only hitch was about 15 minutes from our hotel the first night, we were stopped in Cheyenne, Wyoming by an officer for speeding because we didn't slow down quick enough in one of the bajillion construction zones. Much to our relief, he let us off with a warning, since we were just passing through and unfamiliar with all the construction going on. Thank you, officer! Otherwise our vacation would have started off on a bad note. And apparently he was a K9 unit, so hubby got to meet the dog, too. Nice doggie. Nice nice doggie.

We collapsed into bed and woke up the next morning to a wonderful complimentary breakfast at the Comfort Inn in Cheyenne. Everyone was so friendly and in good spirits...apparently this was the quiet before the storm because the following week, Frontier Days was to descend on the town bringing with it hordes of people. 

We set out again, our next destination Davenport, Iowa to stay at the Comfort Inn there. We went through Peoria, Illinois the hometown of my pal Lynn Fraley, and it was a delightful place with a cool bridge (which we went over). We arrived in Davenport tired, but hungry, so we went to Culver's, for dinner, a place hubby insisted we go to because it started in Wisconsin (and he's from Wisconsin). So what the heck! It was tasty, and I especially liked the 'Turtle" frozen custard sundaes we got. But what was especially cool about our room there was that it had a jacuzzi! Yes! A jacuzzi! So we wallowed in that indulgence, our backs thankful for the luxurious relief. We slept like rocks that night...but not without some excitement: tomorrow was Lexington!

Enjoying a Wisconsin-native burger at Culver's with a Wisconsin-native boy.

The next day went without a hitch, and we arrived in fine order late in the afternoon. We met up with Mom and had a lovely dinner in the hotel, the Griffin Gate Marriott Hotel and Spa, then plopped into bed since we had to get up early. We were grateful to have arrived safe n' sound, and eager to start the whole NAN/Breyerfest escapade. And hooray for WAZE, the GPS program we used to get there. We love this phone app, and are nearly WAZE "royalty" based on our accumulated mileage. We had to plot it in blocks through, from stop to stop, since WAZE can't do over 1,000 miles. A small thing. It worked like a charm regardless.

Anyway, we left at 6:15am and found the Rupp Arena in downtown Lexington just fine, though finding the Heritage Hall inside was a challenge. The place is so big! This was where NAMHSA was holding NAN 2016 (it's national year-end show), and because my Vintage Custom show was being held in conjunction, we got to set up there, too. I was also judging at NAN this year, so it worked out perfectly. NAMHSA was so generous, giving us nine full-size tables at the back of the hall to hold the Vintage show! I got to split the classes, which was fortunate since so many models turned up to show.

It was a huge hit! Tons of models showed and people loved to oogle them and relive those good ol' days of yesteryear, enjoying past memories of all those times gone by. I had old publications available for people to leaf through, too, and Eleanor even brought an old photo album showcasing her old Customs. It was such a blast! NAN entrants and staff got to vote, and it wasn't so easy to pick winners, there were so many cool and beautiful pieces entered. It took some real thought! 

Supreme Champion of A Classic Vintage II by Diane Capwell and owned by Lori Daniels

Now usually the classes are 60s-70s, 80s, and 90s, but so many showed up and so many tables were provided that I got to split them into 60-70s, 80-84, 85-89, 90-94, and 95-99, and each table was color coded for clarity. So everyone got twelve voting tickets. They got to use two tickets per class (or time period), using one ticket per horse in the class, or two tickets for one horse if they really loved it and wanted to weight it more. They stuck their tickets in a cup beside each entry. Then they withheld two tickets to vote for Supreme and Reserve in the same way at the end of the day. Voting criteria was anything they wanted to apply from "it's cool" to "it's more correct" to "it's kooky." It was all for fun.

Reserve Supreme Champion of A Classic Vintage II by myself and owned by Lori Daniels

And not only were the placings 1st-10th (First and Second got my resin medallions and 3rd-10th got my Vintage Show logo tiles), but there was a Supreme and Reserve Champion and Third Runner-Up (all the first and second placers competed for a OOAK hand-sculpted framed porcelain bas-relief for Supreme and  Reserve and Third got fun ceramic boxes I made from my Dancing Horse tiles). 

The competition was tough! So many splendid entries! And this was before all the entries were up!

On top of that though were the additional awards I brought for Jackie Arns-Rossi and Eleanor Harvey (the NAN hosts) to award. Jackie's went to Michelle Grant's Chinook's Colleen and Eleanor's award went to SO Viktor Alexi by Sue Rowe. I also gave Mom and hubby awards they could give to their favorites, and Mom picked a wonderful custom Breyer SM ASB and hubby picked (quite inadvertently) an old Vintage Custom of mine because he liked the paint job. It was a Stone trotting stockhorse I customized, owned by Lori Daniels. I also got to pick a favorite with my own special award, and I gave it to SO China Rose by Sue Rowe. I adore that mare! Supreme Champion was Bellhop, a gorgeous mule owned by Lori Daniels, and Reserve was the sooty dappled buckskin I painted, also owned by Lori Daniels. Third was a wonderful customized Classic Quarter Horse foal with a butterfly on his hinder.

Supreme Champion Honorable Mention by Chris Jolly

At the end of the show we held a raffle using all the coupons from the voting tickets, and handed out eleven fun raffle prizes. The whole thing was a hoot and people really loved voting and enjoying the oldies again. In fact, it was such a success that NAMHSA has invited us back to host it again with NAN next year! So stay tuned since it all depends on our schedules to see if we can pull it off again. I was so thrilled to be invited back! And that the show went without a hiccup, going exactly as planned, was a blessing. As Hannibal from the A-Team would say, cigar to mouth, "I love it when a plan comes together!"

Hubby Chris and my ol' show minions! THANK YOU! I couldn't have pulled it off without you!

As for NAN itself, it was absolutely wonderful! Drama-free and stress-free, everyone was having a lovely time. The show was run so efficiently, it kept a good pace throughout the day and didn't drag on. And my word: the competition was fierce! I haven't seen a show with that depth of quality in a very long time. Picking the winners was tough and I had to get really nit-picky, especially on prepping and painting, in order to ferret out the placings. It was daunting to judge! What I found especially encouraging was that the issue of anatomy and biomechanics had improved greatly, with conformation, type, presentation, prepping, and painting coming more to the forefront as a result. There were so many I wanted to take home with me to be part of my own personal collection! Just fabulous! Really, a stellar NAN and it was my privilege to judge. Thank you tons and tons Eleanor Harvey and Jackie Arns-Rossi for this wonderful opportunity to contribute back!

Now just some insider points for future entries: be mindful of damage. There were a few entries that had minor damage like rubs and scratches in the paint that knocked pieces down. That was frustrating because otherwise they were incredible. I was also a stickler for prepping...there had to be zero visible relics of the molding process and I paid particular attention to mold seams, divots, depressions, gouges, and scratches. It had to be as invisible as possible. Also, since the issues of anatomy and biomechanics was so strong in the classes (yay!), I was able to look for conformation and breed type more. That was a welcome angle. And I didn't base decisions on archetype examples, though there were plenty of them and I do adore foundation types. I based them on what type within the breed they were supposed to represent so that variation within a breed could be acknowledged. And one more tip: attention to the "uphill," "level," or "downhill" balance characteristic of a breed or type. This balance is measured from the base of the neck to the LS-Joint. This was a big determiner in the riding breed classes I judged, such as the AR Morgan class. For example, Morgans should have level and ideally uphill balance, meaning that the base of the neck should be level with or higher than the LS-Joint.

Now this was also the first year that NAN implemented the one-judge-per-class system. Usually it uses an average of three judges per class to make the placings, which has introduced a host of problems over the years that warranted this experiment. And I think it worked wonderfully. The NAN hosts picked experienced, expert judges for each class and let them apply their knowledge to the full depth of their ability, and the placings made sense (perhaps for the first time in NAN history). Judges were also fully accountable for their placings, which lent a much more professional tone to the show because placings weren't just a mishmash of partially-informed opinions by any warm body. It was real experts applying their knowledge in pure form. It was refreshing. It was appropriate. And it's the only way I'll ever judge any show, especially NAN. 

So the day was a huge success and we went out to an early, light dinner with Mom in the hotel since she was leaving so early the next morning for home by plane. After we said our good nights and good byes to ol' Mom (Thanks tons, Mom!), we joined a bunch of NAN folks at Malone's to nibble and carouse. I also found out they served fresh raw oysters and how can I say "no" to that?! So I feasted on twelve of those suckers plus some sushi to celebrate a successful day. And there was much carousing! My oysters came with little blue lights under the ice, I guess to put a spotlight dance on those delicious little dollops of decadence. So...naturally...Eleanor stuck then up her nose! Ha ha ha ha ha! Then Lesli stuck them on her boobs! Silliness is a special quality only reserved for the funnest of friends, and we all got downright silly! There's only one thing that goes better with good food than more good food...and that's fun! So by that token, we had a perfect meal!

Random sign in the CHIN. HA HA HA HA HA! I suspect posted by an ever-patient hubby.

When we got back, we scheduled a couple's massage in the hotels' spa. I've never had a massage  before, though Ham has, and I was intrigued. Initially, I decided that Ham deserved something luxurious after such a long drive, but he suggested we both do it together and I figured "why not?" Again, something new! So we made an appointment for the following day at 7pm, and we really looked forward to it.

The next day we met up with Kay Myers and Laurie Jo Jensen for some bourbon tasting. Ham had three things on his Kentucky Bucket List that he deserved after driving for so long, and those were The Three Bs: (1) A good local breakfast, (2) Bourbon, and (3) BBQ. Ham is a huge bourbon fan, and Kentucky is bourbon country. He's also a BBQ junkie, and he was drying to try authentic Kentucky BBQ. So we had our agenda. We were also directed to a brilliant local breakfast place (though we never made it, we where so booked for our time!) So out we set to conquer the day! It was hot and humid (of course a freak heat wave had to descend on this particular weekend...104˚ and 95% humidity!), but beautiful nonetheless with all the lush greenness everywhere. Hooray for air conditioning! For the treks to our destinations, Kay had brought a couple of the compilation CDs Laurie had made for a previous Trollopfest (each fest has its own CD) and we rocked out to the likes of "White and Nerdy," "Dead Skunk," and "The Ballad of Irving" really really loud. Let mayhem commence! Don't feel too bad for hubby, though...he loved it! 

Buffalo Trace was first on our list! They also sold a killer root beer, Dr. McGillicuddy's Old-Fashioned Root Beer. Delish! Now I don't care for bourbon, so I was all about the root beer!

So we ventured out to Buffalo Trace first, the maker of one of his favorite bourbons, Blanton's. It's one of the oldest distilleries in the U.S. and the tour was wonderful. It was like walking in actual antiques and the aroma about the place was magical. We had a lovely lunch there, too, in the cafe. But what amazed me was just how much was all done by hand, not automated. For example, all the labeling, waxing, and packaging for Blanton's wasn't done by robots or machines. All that work!

Assembly at Buffalo Trace for Blanton's Bourbon brand. All done by hand!

We next ventured to Woodford which was the complete opposite of Buffalo Trace. Everything was new, modern, and sleek. Yet it was "classic Kentucky" driving there with such beautiful countryside of rolling green hills, fences upon fences, lush trees, and horses horses horses. In fact, the surrounding neighborhood pastures were full of mares with their foals, and it was such a beautiful sight! Once there, we had a private tasting and more history on the distilling of bourbon, though we missed the tour. But eeesh! That first mash before it's been aged in barrels is like rocket fuel! Yow. But it was interesting...the bourbon tasting was paired with chocolate, which brought out new flavors in both.

After the fun, we dropped Kay and Laurie off at the CHIN (now the Clarion) and went to our massages. What an amazing experience! To be so pampered. To be so catered to. To be so indulgent. Quite the novelty! And the massage itself was heavenly! I'm addicted! I loosened up like a rag doll and almost fell asleep. And being able to share it with hubby made it all the more wonderful. In fact, we loved the experience so much, we booked another massage two days later, on Saturday morning. Then we scampered on over the CHIN to join the gang in the bar.

Kate and Laurie silliness in the CHIN bar. That's my Celebration sculpture Laurie is clutching.

The next morning (Friday morning) we had to run an errand that took us to Wheeler's Pharmacy. What a kooky wonderful little place! We didn't know it but apparently we'd chosen one of Lexington's iconic places! It had a little store in it besides the pharmacy...with Breyers!...and a cafe inside! People were there in the pharmacy eating lunch, chowing down burgers and milk shakes. How curious! Now while we waited, we started a conversation with the gentleman behind the counter and it eventually came out that I sculpt for Breyer, and that my sculpture was the 2016 Celebration Model at Breyerfest (all the locals know about Breyerfest it seems!). So he bought a model from the store and had me sign it. It was odd since I didn't sculpt the piece, but apparently he collected autographs and I qualified as someone famous. Life is weird.

Anyway, later in the day we joined Kay Myers and Laurie Jo Jensen again, but now with Kate Cabot in tow, for a day of local wine tasting. Since Stephani Robson wasn't with us, Kate served as our fill-in honorary Trollop, with hubby at the helm as official Cabana Boy (a post he fills splendidly). We first went to Equus Run Vineyards, and they had some rather welcoming wines. Their two Ros├ęs were definite stand-outs. Kate even bought a bottle. Plus the gal leading us in the tasting was super friendly and knew about Breyerfest, too. She even wanted me to sign her Breyerfest pamphlet! Life gets weirder.

The gang out wine tasting. This was at Equus Run.

After that, we went to Prodigy Winery which was again the exact opposite of the previous place. The tasting room was large with tables and a large trinket and gift store full of kitchy items. The put it as politely as possible was...undrinkable. It was really heinous! But the point is the fun and not necessarily the wine itself...and on the fun front we scored big! Thanks ladies for a wonderful day! And thank you tons, Ham! Thank you for all that driving and putting up with us! Later that evening, we dropped off Kate and picked up Lesli Kathman and tootled off to dinner again at Malone's. Again, I had a dozen fresh oysters and lobster mac n' cheese. Delish!

I was scheduled to do model signings at the Artisan's Gallery that evening at 7pm. It went well, though it wasn't advertised so many people didn't know I was there doing signings, but I had a few nonetheless. It was so fun to meet new people and to know that they love the sculpture! One gal said she bought seven tickets just to get more! And thank you Lesli Kathman and hubby for running interference! And to Kay Myers and Laurie Jensen for the glass of wine! You guys are gems! But the hotel was packed with people waiting for the swap meet and the Artisan Gallery to open up...a sea of eager souls just waiting to score a treasure. It was quite a sight to see. So much electricity in the air!

I did my Birthday present to myself Bogucki style! I've wanted that Egyptian Arabian medallion of eons...mine mine mine! That's Edwin Bogucki's famous *Bask sculpture in the background there. My Lord it was gorgeous.

More goofiness in the Bogucki suite! Kathi has the patience of a saint! This picture about sums up what was so great about Breyerfest for me this year: people I love, great equine art, and a personal milestone achieved.

The next day...our last day... Saturday was already here. It came so fast! We went to our scheduled massages early in the morning, and it was just as wonderful as the first one. Then we rushed over to the Kentucky Horse Park to catch Lesli Kathman's seminar on the dos and don'ts of painting realistic equine sculptures. It was a wonderful talk (as usual) and we met up with Kay and Laurie again, and tromped off to pick up our Celebration models. Then while they and hubby went to the Hall of Champions, I stood in line and got my tent specials, which was fun...I'd never done that before. Another first. I think this year was also the first time one of my sculptures was a Celebration horse! Cool!


It was blazing hot and sweltering humid, so we decided to call it quits at the Park and get hubby the BBQ he was pining for. So we went to Blue Door Smokehouse based on the repeated recommendations from locals and online reviews. It's regarded as the best BBQ in Lexington, so it was time to strike off "BBQ" from Ham's Bucket List! And was delicious. And serendipity be...a little girl and her mom were there from Breyerfest, the little girl lovingly clutching her Celebration model I'd sculpted. After Laurie revealed I was the sculpting artist, the little girl wanted me to sign her piece, and I did. What a small world! Life just keeps getting more and more curious! What a special moment. After that we ventured over to the CHIN room sales and hubby got to experience them at full bore. Then we retired to the bar and proceeded to have a silly, ol' grand time joined by many wonderful folks. We plunked into bed, exhausted but happy, but eager to get home.

Now while the trip there was relatively smooth sailing, the trip home was anything but! Somehow we missed our turn-off in Kansas City and ended up in a completely different direction and freeway. So while we wanted to end our day in Lincoln, Nebraska, we had to push all the way to Laramie, Wyoming, a long 18 hour drive! I was so worried about how hubby would hold up, but he was such a trooper. But lemme tell wasn't just the distance that tested his resolve...just about everything else did too!

You see, about 4 miles out of Oakley, Kansas we ran out of gas! The meter said we had 14 more miles on the tank, but nooooooooo....we sputtered to a halt just outside of town. It was evening and getting dark too boot. A storm was coming in, too, looming black and scary on the horizon. Of course it is. Lovely. Anyway, we called the state troopers and one came out lickety split and got Hubby to a gas station, then brought him back. He was also nice enough to follow us to the gas station to make sure we didn't sputter out again. Thank you Kansas State Trooper! But was particularly cool about all this was that Ham got to ride in the car as it was lit like a Christmas tree with siren blasting and barreling down the road into town at 95 mph...then back again. I was jealous. I just got to sit and wait and watching the impending storm loom closer.

Out of gas and stranded in Kansas.

So we tooddled along on our way and ran up smack dab in the middle of that giant storm. My lord...lightening everywhere, black was pitch black around us...and the rain came down so thick our washers couldn't keep up even on high. People were pulling over to the side, or came down to a crawl. Hubby found the white line and just slowly followed it while the wind and rain battered our poor little rental car. I still can't believe how pitch black it was! About 20 minutes later we found our way out of it...thank goodness...and left the giant black sky behind us as we scuttled onward towards Laramie. Ham had clutched the steering wheel so tight, his hands were sore!

Then we ended up on a hilly mountain highway winding its way through the foothills shouldering Laramie. Ham was so haired out because he kept envisioning deer bounding out in front of us, so I acted as a second pair of eyes to look for that tell-tale eye shine. Then lo! We crested a hill and saw the welcoming lights of 1:25am! I thought we'd never get there! We pulled into the parking lot totally strung out and went promptly to bed. Although it took hubby about 45 minutes to unwind, and apparently all he saw was road when he closed is eyes, he finally fell asleep. What a day! All the bad juju happened on this one day...which was good....since the following day was a breeze. We took our time and got back to our humble abode after afternoon rush hour.

Wow...what an adventure! So much had happened in just one week! And, in fact, hubby said he had such a good time, he'd be happy to do it all over again! Can you believe it? That dear man...signing up for more of this mayhem. But everyone loves him, and he is my better half, so...of course!  

I did score some goodies at Breyerfest! I bought some little things from Karen Grimm's collection dispersal...a particularly beautiful dark Classic Arab Stallion (I love that sculpture) and some adorable charmkin HRs. The bongo-playing mouse is definitely a favorite! I also scored a cool Chinese dragon bas-relief sculpted by Kitty Cantrell, from Caroline Boydston (who brought a plethora of gorgeous pieces to sell, including her fantastic new shark sculpture!). And I finally got the Egyptian Arab plaque from Kathi Bogucki I've wanted for so long. From the tent sales, I got a Mamacita and Chico, and a Furano, the lovely dapple grey glossy Arabian. And my mystery model is a lovely dark bay over Esprit. And, of course, I scored three of my Celebration horses, which turned out beautifully! Breyer really hit it out of the part with this one! A beautiful soft rosey grey with beautiful little dapples and a pearly sheen. Just gorgeous! It was also the first time I'd ever seen that sculpture in plastic, so it was a real treat to finally see a finished product! Now the original is much bigger! Nearly two inches bigger (or at least I think so) at the ear somehow they shrunk it down to the size they needed! PHEW. I was so worried about his size! But they made it work...yay! Speaking of size, I'm on the hunt for a Girl From Ipanema, a small-size crystal version of my Croi Damsha sculpture. (hint hint!)

Gorgeous flowers were everywhere!

So we've been recuperating, unpacking, doing laundry...all the unglamorous stuff following such a trek. I brought Rascal home from the rat-sitter the next day, and now it's truly home again. My widdle Waaascal! How I missed you! Lots of cuddle time to catch up on!

It was an amazing experience! Meeting people I'd only known as names online, reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, meeting new people and oogling all the beautiful work out there! And of course, the gorgeous horses that inspire all this madness were a marvel. I managed to fair the heat didn't bother me as much as I expected it to, though I must admit the barrage of tasty margaritas did cool me down nicely Saturday evening!

Both NAN and Breyerfest are happenings, and it was a thrill to be a part of them this year! So many varied people coming together over the love of horses and model horses. Such a treat. I can't wait for next time, the next big adventure! See you there!

Like mighty eagle soaring light
O'er antelopes on Alpine height.
The anchor heaves, the ship swings free,
The sails swell full. To sea, to sea!

~ Thomas Lovell Beddoes

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