Fighting Stallions

"Fighting Stallions" by Laurel Anne Equine Art

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 ­čÖé ) 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

"Fighting Stallions" by Laurel Anne Equine Art
“Fighting Stallions” by Laurel Anne Equine Art

 

Medicine Hat

Medicine Hat by Laurel Anne Equine Art

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

Medicine Hat by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Medicine Hat by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Raven Pegasus

“Raven Pegasus” is one of my rare ventures into the realm of fantasy artwork. This painting was inspired by the raw strength and power of the horse, which I tried to emphasize with the heavily arched neck and flaring nostrils. The pose is of Mr. Pegasus collecting himself before launching into flight, chosen to show the best angles of his feathers, and the motion of his heavy, windswept mane.

Prints and products featuring “Raven Pegasus” can be purchased at Society6.com

Raven Pegasus by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Raven Pegasus by Laurel Anne Equine Art

War Chief: Courtesy of The Nokota Horse Conservancy┬«

War Chief Courtesy of The Nokota Horse Conservancy®

Earlier this fall, I was proud to participate in a fundraiser for The Nokota Horse Conservancy®, an organization dedicated to preserving the rare and historical Nokota® horse breed.

Nokota® horses are a distinct bloodline descended from the mustangs owned by Sitting Bull. A more in depth look at their history can be read here on the NHC website. True to their mustang heritage, present day Nokota® horses are hardy, intelligent, and athletic, with their Spanish ancestry clearly visible in their appearance. One unique characteristic of the Nokota® is the prevalence of the roan coloring. (like War Chief, here) This coloring is rare amongst equines in general, but quite common with the Nokotas®!

Below is “War Chief,” my submission to the NHC fundraiser project. He was an enjoyable challenge to paint, due to representing the random splashings of his roaning, as well as capturing the fresh loneliness of the prairie landscape. The original painting of “War Chief” can be purchased at The Nokota Horse Conservancy┬« Gift Shop, with proceeds going to support the horses, while prints, mugs, and tees can be purchased at Society6.com┬á(with proceeds going to support the artist!)

War Chief Courtesy of The Nokota Horse Conservancy®
War Chief Courtesy of The Nokota Horse Conservancy®

Past Portraits: Rain

Cadenza Storm, better known by her barn name Rain, is a Holsteiner-Thoroughbred mare who is a permanent resident at my stable. Although she has had a somewhat troubled past, Rain has grown into a curious and intelligent young horse. Her favorite hobbies include galloping from the far end of the pasture to the gate, nimbly handling the creek, logs, and other natural obstacles in between, and hiding behind her best pal Mocha after teasing other horses.

I loved painting Rain because of her unusually dark dapple grey color as well as her finely-molded, thoroughbred type features. True to her sense of humor, Rain took an overly serious approach to being photographed for her portrait, and is doing her attempt at a “Vogue” pose.

Portrait of "Rain" by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Portrait of “Rain” by Laurel Anne Equine Art

If you like this painting and would like one of your own animal, I am available for hire! Watercolor Animals Portraits are available for purchase at etsy.com!

Sabino and Grulla

"Sabino and Grulla" by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Limited Time: Original Painting Is Also For Sale! Visit Etsy.com to purchase!

A small 5″x 7″ watercolor sketch, “Sabino and Grulla” is an illustration of two unusual, yet striking, horse colors. On the left we see the grulla (or grullo) grazing with neck outstretched. Also known as mouse dun or blue dun and caused by the dun gene on a black base coat, this mare shows all the classic grulla traits: black dorsal stripe, zebra marks on her legs, and even a shock of silver in her mane…

On the right and looking to the side is the sabino mare, with lacy white splashes blending into her sorrel base coat. Working on these unusual colors was very fun for me as an artist to show the whole range of the equine pallet!

"Sabino and Grulla" by Laurel Anne Equine Art
“Sabino and Grulla” by Laurel Anne Equine Art

To purchase prints and other products featuring “Sabino and Grulla” please visit Society6.com

Daisy Chain

Daisy Chain Original watercolor by Laurel Anne Equine Art

“Daisy Chain” is a fanciful painting I made around March to capture the essence of spring. The background of this painting uses a very loose technique with lots of bright, fresh colors. The bay horse nibbling at his buddy’s flower wreath is the inspiration for the whole scene, and provided a great opportunity to practice drawing new horse expressions! The bay horse is based on Felix, a horse at my barn who can never resist a snack!

Daisy Chain Original watercolor by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Daisy Chain
Original watercolor by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Prints and other products featuring “Daisy Chain” can be purchased at Society6.com Daisy Chain

Mother’s Love

Mother's Love by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Unlike some of my other pictures like “Quiet Summer Wood” or “Maiden and Unicorn” that take weeks of painting, thinking, and revising, “Mother’s Love” was completed rather quickly, in just a couple of hours one afternoon. The main inspiration for this painting for me was the opportunity to play around with the appaloosa coloring: the dark spots on white, the white spots on dark, the roan-ish blending between the bay and white areas, and the speckling around the mare’s muzzle, were all exciting for me to work on. However, the main draw for people who see the painting is the interaction between the mare and her foal, reaching around to gently reassure her baby, a tender moment that seems to transcend species.

Mother's Love by Laurel Anne Equine Art
Mother’s Love by Laurel Anne Equine Art

Prints and other products featuring “Mother’s Love” are available for purchase at Society6.com Mother’s Love┬á