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.
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.
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.
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.