Good evening, long time no post! Back on 8th February we ushered in the Lunar Year of the Monkey. Scrolling through pictures of flowers with Chinese New Year on the brain, I couldn’t help but notice how much bleeding-heart flowers (dicentra) look like Chinese lanterns. The vision of the little flowers glowing in the night made me think of the tiny garden people that would live under those flowers, the faeries. After setting up the flowers as the framework of the scene, I added little faerie magic fireworks and ribbon dancers to add to the festivity.
Faerie Lunar New Year is available as prints and other products at Society6.com!
One aspect of equine behavior that we don’t see much in domestic life is the sparring fights that occur between mature stallions. Occasionally one bears witness to more casual, playful sparring, often from young geldings. Whilst it’s probably for the best that our domestic horses don’t fight seriously, it is worth appreciating the place of these fights in the heart of the equine psyche.
True fights for dominance occur between mature stallions over the possession of mares. In the wild, young colts live in bachelor bands where they hone their horse-etiquette with other youngsters and are kept in line by the oldest stallions. Although these older stallions are past their prime at defending a band of mares, they are no slouches when it comes to educating the whippersnappers, and their lifetime of surviving the hazards of the wild makes them wise teachers.
After a young stallion has spent some years learning the subtle intricacies of equine body language and the toothy and hoof-y consequences of challenging these boundaries, he may attempt at gathering a few mares of his own. All horses, even domestic ones, communicate dominance through body posturing. The young stallion will usually get his first mares by stealing them from a larger band. It is a testament to the dominance of a stallion if he is able to command a large group of mares because inevitably, some will range a bit farther from the group and possibly be snaked (google it 🙂 ) and stolen by a young go-getter. The herd stallion can repel these advances by using his body posture to show his presence; head and tail raised high, neck arched, and nostrils flared, moving in a direct line towards the on-comer. The younger horse has learned by now that these postures signal serious intent and can decide now whether or not to retreat or stand his ground. If he chooses the latter, the fight will ensue.
Horses never fight to kill one another, only to intimidate the other into retreating. Rearing, to make themselves larger than their opponent, or pinning the opponent to the ground on his knees in a position of vulnerability. The fight is over when one party has had enough and gives up. These fights don’t last long and the combatants don’t usually sustain serious injury, but in the moment, we as observers can see all the power and athleticism of the horse in it’s natural state, and that’s the inspiration behind “Fighting Stallions.”
“Fighting Stallions” can be prints and products can be purchased at Society6.com, and the original painting can be purchased at Etsy.com
Only 5 by 7 inches, “Medicine Hat” is one of the smaller works in my collection. A Medicine Hat Paint is a horse that is mostly or completely white with dark hair covering only the ears and the top of the head, called a War Bonnet. The horse need not be completely white, horses with colored markings over their chest or flanks (shields) also fall into the medicine hat category if they retain the War Bonnet, and of course, blue eyes are preferred. Native American legend has it that a warrior who rides a Medicine Hat horse into battle cannot be hit by arrows, which made these horses highly prized by the Plains Nations. In my painting, I chose to represent the purer form of the Medicine Hat horse with only a black War Bonnet and blue eyes. He stands in the prairie lands of the Plains Indians, as clouds of those famous Great Plains storms build up in the background.
Prints and other products featuring “Medicine Hat” can be purchased on Society6.com, while the original can be purchased at Etsy.com