Monday Minstrel: The Galloping Horse.

Before  the late 1800’s artists drawing or painting a galloping horse usually showed them with both front and hind legs stretched out and off the ground.

Henry Thomas Aiken “Full cry over fences” early 19th century.

George Stubbs, usually showed his horse subjects standing. This may have been because he liked close attention to detail and took great pains to show the horse’s anatomy correctly. He may have realized that the galloping horse was not suspended with all four limbs stretched out but also knew he did not fully understand the sequence of the footfall of a galloping horse. In this painting he shows the horse pushing off the ground with its back legs not in unison.

George Stubbs “Bay Malton with John Singleton up” 1767

In 1887 the mystery of the galloping horse was solved. Photographer Eadweard Muybridge  had developed techniques to capture motion in individual frames. He also designed the Zoopraxiscope machine to illustrate his photos in a moving sequence. His book of photographs, The Horse in Motion, published in 1878 changed forever how the galloping horse would be portrayed.

Eadweard Muybridge, “Gallop, Bay Horse ‘Daisy’” plate 628 of Animal Locomotion.

The photos in this post are photos of the illustrations in Tamsin Pickeral’s book The Horse, 30,000 Years of the Horse in Art.


12 responses to “Monday Minstrel: The Galloping Horse.”

  1. […] via Monday Minstrel: The Galloping Horse. — HorseAddict […]


  2. Doggedly Yours Avatar

    As Springsteen would say: “born to run.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Yes,! Love Springsteen 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Subbashini Meenakshi Sundaram Avatar

    Reading this blog is always a pleasure, I am doing this for my satisfaction ma’am. I have to thank you for sharing these informations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Thank you. It makes me happy to know you enjoy the posts


  4. Emma Cownie Avatar

    These photos are fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Alli Farkas Avatar

    As it turns out, research has shown that a few horses, as far back as the famous Thoroughbred sire Lexington in the mid 1800’s, had a double suspension gallop. Secretariat and Justify also. A researcher I trust, Deb Bennett Phd, has written about it here:
    You’ll have to scroll (scroll sideways, it seems) to the end of the article to find the reference. You can get more picture evidence here:
    The point being, in the second suspension the horse’s front and hind legs are stretched out similar to the old paintings before Muybridge! Who knew??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Well as you know Alli there’s that moment of suspension in the canter that stops it from becoming the dreaded 4 beat canter. The legs are not extended for it but it is airborne. Thanks so much for these links I shall look at them with interest!


  6. Miss A Avatar

    It’s interesting… artists might like horses but not really being a rider , he might skip the technicalities.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Yes and as long as it looked like the horse was going fast that was all that mattered. Thanka for commenting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. laura bruno lilly Avatar

    It wasn’t until I took Anthropology 101 my freshman year in college (long ago) that I learned about the stereotypically represented galloping horse posture depicted in many drawings/paintings/illustrations as being false. The prof made a point of this along with his rants on the despicability of dingos! Ever since, I watched real galloping horses with an eye to see for myself and rate the knowledge of artists on the subject of horse posture. Meanwhile, all along, my artist Ma had always told me that the image of the galloping horse with no hooves touching the ground was bogus…except of course whenever they jumped over anything.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. anne leueen Avatar

      Haha! I’m laughing at the despicability of dingos! When we travelled in Australia when our kids were young we did get the odd comment about our two year daughter being “dingo food”. Thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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