Welcome back to this exploration of the equine head, anatomically, biologically, and artistically. And here we are, at the end of this expansive 20–part series about it. It’s been quite a trek to be sure, but we’ve learned oodles of useful information that will inform our work in positive, provocative ways. So let’s think about a couple more issues before we wrap up…
Being a realistic equine artist means more than simply parroting what we see with technical accuracy—perhaps it means a little bit more. Could it be then that a conscientious realistic equine artist needs to know more than simple structure? Don’t we also need to know the whys of that structure? It cannot be ignored that this additional insight gifts us with concepts relevant to our work while simultaneously providing context—and isn’t that critical for creating not only realistic work, but responsible work? In a sense then, our work speaks for this animal by representing values that can impact public sentiment. That's to say our work may go beyond mere representation and into culpability. Surely, we cannot ignore that our visuals endorse certain structures, and when it comes to the equine head, that influence is particularly important to weigh. As such, when we speak with a biological perspective of our work, we not only create a sounder basis for our creative choices, but a Voice that’s confident and clear. In other words, when we make our work an example of what it means to be an equine, do we not more completely express the fullness of his experience? There’s much more to equine realism than our reality—isn’t his reality just as important?
And that reality is rich and complex. Indeed, the equine has a curious and convoluted story to tell, full of tangents, dead ends, and an ultimate near–miss with oblivion—how unlikely he is! How fortunate we are he beat the odds—55 million years is a long time to play biological roulette and keep winning! It’s worth it then to consider what animal we’d sculpting if not for the happy chances that created the horse. He could so easily have disappeared altogether, or ended up with an entirely different anatomical blueprint, then what would we be sculpting? He’s here in his peculiar way purely thanks to serendipity, so we are blessed, aren’t we? That something so beautiful and gracious could have been produced by serendipity makes the fortuitousness of his presence all the more profound. It’s inspiring to remember that we’re lucky to have him around as his Fate could have been quite different. So maybe we can think of our work as both a celebration as well as an expression of our thankfulness for the existence of this splendid creature.
And that being said, no where else on his body is this evolutionary story expressed so clearly than in his head, its every feature a direct result of nature’s design, perfectly built for his ecological niche. To understand its backstory and functions then lends a deeper appreciation of this animal, giving greater meaning to our efforts. If we can keep this close to heart as we work, we’ll come to better understand what it means to be a horse and that can inform our work in wonderful ways we may not anticipate. So perhaps being a realistic equine artist also means being an educator of sorts who helps others come to appreciate this beast on deeper levels deeper. The reality of this animal is far more than structure alone, and even his head embodies a story far more complicated than our value judgements. Therefore, only when we fully grasp this idea do we more fully mature as a realistic equine artist. Reconsidering it all, it's an incomplete understanding just copies what’s seen without due consideration of what we’re duplicating. To grasp the evolutionary history of his head then is to create with more validity and conscientiousness, and that speaks well of our endeavors.
To that end, it’s encouraged to continue with proactive research since there’s even more to the equine head than discussed in this series. Our work also benefits from our sensitivity for individual variation since each head is as singular and distinct as ours—no two heads are alike! And not only in terms of bony structure, but also fleshy structure since squishy bits can have varied manifestations between individuals, too. We have countless variations to play with, and what wonderful possibilities await us! Undoubtedly, remaining open–minded and resistant to formula will serve us well when it comes to sculpting the equine head, and that motivates us to do the same for the rest of his body. In this way, sculpting his head can teach us lessons that apply to our inspirations and skill sets, further expanding the potential of our efforts.
Better grasping the structure of his head not only makes our work more realistic, but more authentic, too. Indeed, we cannot truly appreciate its nature as related to a specific breed without also recognizing the special history of that breed that contributed to the shape of his head. This means our work not only improves when it comes to breed type, but helps to celebrate the particular history of a breed more faithfully, and that can have a positive influence on how our work is received. When we understand both the biological history not just of the genus, but also of a particular breed, even of a specific individual, that authority makes our work all the more genuine and our creative choices all the more reliable. We cannot deny that breed type factors heavily into our priorities, and what better way to pay homage to it than to fathom the whys of that novel structure?
What’s more, getting the head right on our sculptures is important for the appreciation of our work. It’s the first thing people gravitate towards and it’s the one thing that most impacts their response to it. That’s because it embodies not just the biological niche of the animal, but also his breed, gender, and age, and even more, his spirit and expression. Undoubtedly, if its structure is flawed, not only will our illusion be compromised, but its aesthetic appeal will be as well. Truly, there are few ways to turn people off than an incorrectly sculpted head. And since the head itself is so difficult to get right, getting it right speaks well of our talents—the better our heads, the better our standing. Likewise, if our sculpted heads are correct, people learn to better trust the totality of our work, too. Let's face it, if we can sculpt a convincing, accurate head, it’s likely the rest of the anatomical structures we sculpt are correct, too. One reaffirms the other. In addition to all this, we gain a pronounced advantage if our heads are more technically factual. Being so difficult to sculpt, many artists make errors so if we can avoid them, we’ve gained a measurable upper hand. To these ends, it certainly pays to take extra care when sculpting the head since it has so many implications for the rest of our work and even our standing in the field of equine realism.
The equine head is truly a marvel of biological engineering and to understand it more thoroughly helps us not only to improve our work, but to also nurture a new appreciation of just how amazing the equine actually is. This creature has been shaped by nature with an economy of structure, yet look how beautiful pure function turned out! The horse is easily one of the loveliest creatures alive, yet this is accomplished by making so much of so little.
Hopefully this series has impressed just how truly important and wondrous is the equine head. To think that such a relatively small part of his body could be so pivotal yet so economical, beautiful, expressive, and capable of so much, all simultaneously, is extraordinary. How many other animals have such a boast? And as artists, we can highlight this novel combination to help others appreciate the biological marvel that is the horse, too.
And the good news is that as we progress in our work, sculpting the horse’s head can become easier, something not quite so daunting to sculpt. If we’re feeling a little frustrated or intimidated then—don’t worry. We’ve all been there! Each of us are a bit daunted each time we sculpt one since so much rests on its successful recreation. Just keep at it though—keep practicing! We’ll make mistakes, but that’s how we learn, right? If we use the right techniques, our job is made easier, and if our intentions are informed, we’re on the right track. And if we get stuck, there are always fixes. Never forget that what we create we can fix! We also have a plethora of options for bony and fleshy expression of his head—each head is unique so we’ll never get bored. To that end, stay curious to stay a conscientious, creative explorer, the most important habit we could nurture. The horse is an exquisite example of evolution, and his head is a perfect illustration of his biological story, so have fun exploring this most curious, quirky feature of this most marvelous animal! Those lucky stars were very good to us since now we get to honor this lovely creature in this splendid form! Until next time then…stay a proactive learner to stay ahead of the pack!
“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” ~ Yogi Bhajan
RECOMMENDED RESOURCES AND REFERENCES
PRINCIPLES OF CONFORMATION ANALYSIS-VOL. I-III, Deb Bennett. 1992. Fleet Street Publishing Corp., 656 Quince Orchard Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878. Available from Equine Studies Institute, PO Box 411, Livingston, CA 95334. For more information: www.equinestudies.org
HORSE GAITS, BALANCE AND MOVEMENT: THE NATURAL MECHANICS OF MOVEMENT COMMON TO ALL BREEDS, Susan E. Harris. 1993. Howell Book House, Macmillian Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., NY, NY 10022. ISBN: 0-87605-955-8
NATURAL HOOF CARE
MAXIMUM HOOF POWER: HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR HORSE’S PERFORMANCE THROUGH PROPER HOOF MANAGEMENT, Cherry Hill and Richard Klimesh. 1994. Howell Book House, Macmillian Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., NY, NY 10022. ISBN: 0-87605-964-7
HORSES IN ACTION: A Study of Conformation, Movement and the Causes of Spinal Stress, R.H. Smythe, M.R.C.V.S., 1963, Charles C. Thomas, Publisher, Springfield, Illinois.
CONFORMATION FOR THE PURPOSE, Susan McBane, 2000, Swan Hill Press, 101 Longden Road, Shrewsbury, SY3 9EB, England. ISBN: 1-84037-052-1
BRED FOR PERFECTION; SHORTHORN CATTLE, COLLays AND ARABIAN HORSES SINCE 1800, Margaret E. Derry. 2003. The John Hopkins University Press, 2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21218. ISBN: 0-8018-7344-4.
ANIMALS IN MOTION, Eadweard Muybridge, 1887. Dover Publications, Inc. (1957), 31 East 2nd Stree, Mineola, NY 11501. ISBN: 0-486-20203-8.
Easley KJ. Equine canine and first premolar (wolf) teeth. Proc AAEP 2004;50:13-18.
Korinek CJ. The Veterinarian. 2nd ed. Cedar Rapids, IA: The Veterinarian Publishing Company; 1916:85.
Meszoly, J., The Equine Color Vision Debate, Equus Magazine, October 2003, www.equisearch.com/horses_care/health/anatomy/colorvision_012706, Sept. 5, 2009.
Sivak JG, Allen DB. An evaluation of the ramp retina on the horse eye. Vision Res 1975; 15:1353–1356.
Giffin, James M and Tom Gore. Horse Owner’s Veterinary Handbook, Second Edition. Howell Book House. New york, NY. Copyright 1998.
Bennett, Dr. Deb, 1999, Five Day Dissection Workshop
Keith E. Baptiste1,5, Jonathan M. Naylor1, Jeremy Bailey2, Ernest M. Barber3, Klass Post1 & Jim Thornhill4 Physiology: A function for guttural pouches in the horseNature 403, 382-383 (27 January 2000) | doi:10.1038/35000284 http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v403/n6768/full/403382a0.html Sept. 6, 2009.
Waring, G.H., Horse Behavior, 2nd Edition, 2003.
Roth, Lina S. V., Balkenius, Anna and Kelber, Almut, The Absolute Threshold of Colour Vision in the Horse, PLoS ONE. 2008; 3(11): e3711. Published online 2008 November 12. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003711.
Brooks, Dennis E. Brooks, Ophthalmology for the Equine Practitioner, Teton New Media; 1st edition 2002, pg. 29. ISBN: 1893441512 or 978-1893441514.
For you own real horse skull: www.skullsunlimited.com
ANIMAL PAINTING AND ANATOMY, W. Frank Calderon. 1975. Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick St., NY NY 10014. ISBN: 0-486-22523-2.
ANATOMY OF THE DOMESTIC ANIMALS, Sisson and Grossman. 4th Edition 1953. W.B. Saunders Company, West Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19105.
ATLAS OF EQUINE ANATOMY: Regional Approach, Chris Pasquini DVM, MS, 3rd Edition 1991, Sudz Publishing, PO Box 1199, Pilot Point, TX 76258.
ANIMAL ANATOMY FOR ARTISTS: The Elements of Form, Eliot Goldfinger (the author of Human Anatomy for Artists), 1994, Oxford University Press, Inc., 198 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10016. ISBN: 0-19-514214-4. Approx. 233 pages.
THE HORSE ANATOMY WORKBOOK, Maggie Raynor, 2006, J.A. Allen, Clerkenwell House, Glerkenwell Green, London, ECIR 0HT. ISBN-10: 0-85131-905-X and ISBN-13: 978-0-85131-905-6.
ROONEY’S GUIDE TO THE DISSECTION OF THE HORSE, W.O. Sack, DVM, PhD, 6th Edition, 1994, Veterinary Textbooks, 36 Woodcrest Avenue, Ithaca, NY 14850. ISBN: 0-960001152-3-4.
CLINICAL ANATOMY OF THE HORSE, Hilary M. Clayton, Peter F. Flood, Diana S. Rosenstein, 2005, Mosby Elsevier www.elsevierhealth.com ISBN: 07234-3302-X
CYCLOPEDIA ANATOMICAE, Feher Gyorgy. 1996. Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers, Inc., 151 West 19th St., NY, NY 10011. ISBN: 1-884822-87-8.
ANATOMY OF THE HORSE FOR ARTISTS, Dr. Feher Gyorgy and Dr. Fancsi Tibor, 2003. ISBN: 963-09-4463-4.
AN ATLAS OF ANIMAL ANATOMY FOR ARTISTS, W. Ellenberger, H. Dittrich and H. Baum. 1956. Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick St., NY NY 10014. ISBN: 0-486-200082-5.
COLOR ATLAS OF VETERINARY ANATOMY: THE HORSE, Raymond R. Ashdown and Stanley H. Done. 1987. J.B. Lippincott Co., East Washington Square, Philadelphia, PA 19105. ISBN: 0-397-58304-4.
THE EQUUS ILLUSTRATED HANDBOOK OF EQUINE ANATOMY, Ronald J. Riegal, DVM and Susan E. Hakola, BS, RN, CMI, 2006. PRIMEDIA Equine Network/EQUUS magazine, 656 Quince Orchard, Road, #600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. To order online, go to: www.HorseBooksEtc.com. ISBN-13: 978-1-929164-33-2
HORSE ANATOMY: A Pictoral Approach to Equine Structure, 2000 2nd Edition, Peter Goody, J.A. Allen, an imprint of Robert Hale Ltd., Clerkenwell House, 47-47 Clerenwell Green, London EC1R 0HT. ISBN: 0-85131-769-3.
THE TEETH OF THE HORSE: Horse Health and Care Series, #1, Caballus Publishers Box 132 East Lansing, Michigan 48823, 1972. ISBN: 0-912830-02-6.
THE ARTIST’S GUIDE TO ANIMAL ANATOMY: AN ILLUSTRATED REFERENCE FOR DRAWING ANIMALS, Gottfried Bammes. 1994. English translation. Chartwell Books Inc., A Division of Book Sales, Inc., 114 Northfield Ave., Raritan Center, Edison, NJ 08818. ISBN: 0-7858-0055-7.
THE EXTERIOR OF THE HORSE, Armand Goubaux and Gustave Barrier, 1892, 1904 2nd Edition, translated by Simon J.J. Harger, V.M.D., J.B. Lippencott Company, London, 5 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden.
THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO EQUINE VETERINARY MEDICINE, Barb Crabbe, DVM, 2007, Sterling Publishing, Co., Inc., 387 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10016. ISBN: 978-1-4027-1053-7 or 1-4027-1053-4.
HORSE ANATOMY - ILLUSTRATED, Robert F. Way, VMD, MS, 1973, Dreenan Press Ltd., Croton-on-Hudson, NY 10520. ISBN: 0-88376-007-X.
MODELING AND SCULPTING ANIMALS, Edouard Lanteri. 1985. Dover Publications, Inc., 31 East 2nd St., Mineola, NY 11501. ISBN: 0-486-25007-5.
THE COLORING ATLAS OF HORSE ANATOMY, Robert A. Kainer and Thomas O. McCracken. 1994. Alpine Publications, Inc., PO Box 7027, Loveland, CO 80537. (303) 667-2017. ISBN: 0-931866-69-3.
HORSE STRUCTURE AND MOVEMENT, Smythe, Goody and Peter Gray. 3rd Edition 1993. J.A. Allen and Company, Ltd., 1, Lower Grosvenor Place, Buckingham Palance Rd., London, SW1W 0EL. ISBN: 0-85131-547-X.
EQUINE PHOTOS AND DRAWINGS FOR CONFORMATION AND ANATOMY, Equine Research Inc., PO Box 535547, Grand Prarie, TX 75053. ISBN: 0-935842-13-6.
VETERINARY NOTES FOR HORSE OWNERS, Captain M. Horace Hayes F.R.C.V.S., 17th Edition 1987, Simon and Schuster, Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020. ISBN: 0-671-76561-2.
ANATOMY OF THE HORSE: Horse Health and Care Series, #6, Caballus Publishers Box 132 East Lansing, Michigan 48823, 1972. ISBN: 0-912830-07-7.
THE EQUUS ILLUSTRATED HANDBOOK OF EQUINE ANATOMY: The Musculoskeletal System -- Anatomy of Movement and Locomotion, Ronald J. Riegal, DVM and Susan E. Hakola, BS, RN, CMI, 2006. PRIMEDIA Equine Network/EQUUS magazine, 656 Quince Orchard, Road, #600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. To order online, go to: www.HorseBooksEtc.com. ISBN-13: 978-1-929164-33-2.
THE EQUUS ILLUSTRATED HANDBOOK OF EQUINE ANATOMY: Volumn Two -- Internal Medicine, Systems, Skin & Eye Anatomy, Ronald J. Riegal, DVM and Susan E. Hakola, BS, RN, CMI, 2007. PRIMEDIA Equine Network/EQUUS magazine, 656 Quince Orchard, Road, #600, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. To order online, go to: www.HorseBooksEtc.com. ISBN-978-1-929164-39-4.
HORSEMAN’S VETERINARY ENCLYCLOPEDIA, revised and updated, Will. A Hadden III, DVM, 2005, Equine Research, Inc., The Lyon’s Press, Guilford, Connecticut. ISBN: 1-59228-527-9.
THE HORSE: ITS ACTION AND ANATOMY, Lowes Dalbiac Luard. 1996. J.A. Allen and Co. Ltd, 1 Lower Grosvenor Place, London SW1W 0EL. ISBN: 0-85131-645-X.
CLINICAL ANATOMY & PHYSIOLOGY FOR VETERINARY TECHNICIANS, Thomas Colville and Joanna M. Bassert, 2002, Mosby, Inc., 11830 Westline Industrial Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63146. www.elsevierheath.com. ISBN: 978-0-323-00819-8 or 0-323-00819-4.
PRINCIPLES OF VETERINARY SCIENCE, Frederick Brown Hadley. 3rd Edition 1946. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadephia.
PRINCIPLES OF CONFORMATION ANALYSIS - VOL. 1 & 3, Deb Bennett. 1992. Fleet Street Publishing Corp., 656 Quince Orchard Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878. Available from Equine Studies Institute, PO Box 411, Livingston, CA 95334. For more information: www.equinestudies.org.
FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY (Threshold Picture Guide #43), Chris Colles, Bvet Med, PhD, MRCVS, Kenilworth Press Limited, Addintgon, Buckingham MK18 2JR. ISBN: 1-872119-19-0.
UNDERSTANDING THE EQUINE EYE, Michael A. Ball, DVM, 1999, The Blood-Horse, Inc., Box 4038, Lexington, KY 50544-4038. ISBN: 1-58150-032-7.
THE TOPOGRAPHICAL ANATOMY OF THE HEAD AND NECK OF THE HORSE, O. Charnock, Bradley. 1923. The Edinburgh Veterinary Series. W. Green & Son Limited.ATLAS OF CLINICAL IMAGING AND ANATOMY OF THE EQUINE HEAD, Larry Kimberlin, Alex our Linden, Lynn Ruoff. 2017. LCCN: 2016023788.
ANATOMY OF THE HORSE: An Illustrated Text, Professor Klaus-Dieter Budras, Professor em. W.O. Sack and Sabine Rock, 2001 3rd Edition, Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt, Germany. ISBN: 3877066208.
THE NATURE OF HORSES: EXPLORING EQUINE EVOLUTION, INTELLIGENCE AND BEHAVIOR, Stephen Budiansky. 1997. The Free Press, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY NY 10020. ISBN: 0-684-82768-9.
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HORSES: HOW THEY RUN, SEE AND THINK, Stephen Budiansky, 2000. Henry Holt and Company, 115 West 18th Street, NY NY 10011. ISBN: 0-8050-6054-5.
ILLUSTRATED HORSEWATCHING, Desmond Morris, 1997. Knickerbocker Press, 276 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10001. ISBN:1-57715-094-5.
A PRACTICAL FIELD GUIDE FOR HORSE BEHAVIOR: THE EQUID ETHOGRAM, Sue McDonnell, Ph.D., 2003, The Blood-Horse, Inc., National Book Network, 4720-A Boston Way, Lanham, MD 20706. ISBN: 1-58150-090-4.
THE BIRDIE BOOK, Deb Bennet, PhD. 2001. Equine Studies Institute, PO Box 411, Livingston, CA 95334. On CD only. For more information: www.equinestudies.org.
CONQUERORS: THE ROOTS OF NEW WORLD HORSEMANSHIP, Deb Bennet, Ph.D, 1998. Amigo Publications, Inc., 1510 Dove Meadow Road, Solvang, CA 93463. ISBN: 0-9658533-0-6.
FOSSIL HORSES: SYSTEMATICS, PALEOBIOLOGY AND EVOLUTION OF THE FAMILY EQUIDAE, Bruce J. MacFadden, 1992. Cambridge University Press, 40 West 20th Street, NY NY 10011-4211. ISBN (paperback): 0-521-47708-5.
THE SIZE OF EYES, Christine Barakat, Equus #288.
WHAT KIND OF AN ANIMAL IS A HORSE?, Dr. Deb Bennet, Equus #116.
DRINKERS OF THE WIND, Dr. Deb Bennet, Equus #179.
Magazines and Newsletters
THE INNER HORSEMAN, Equine Studies Institute