Sunday, March 22, 2009

Belgian Mama

About a kilometer from my house is a horse farm with five Belgian draft horses. They're strong pullers and very gentle.

One of them, named Sophie, is pregnant. She's expecting her foal in just a week or two. This is a rare event at the farm. Last time it happened was more than ten years ago. I'll try to document the little one with my sketchbook, so stay tuned!


Erik Bongers said...

Being Belgian, I sometimes forget this myself.
Sure, we have chocolates, we have beer...but we also have horses and they are indeed often a favorite subject for artists.

At the Belgian coast, these horses are still used to catch chrimp.

Give Sophie my regards.

Judith Hunt said...

Belgians are beautiful horses to draw as they are so curvy.

A beautiful, well-tempered little horse to both own and draw is the sure-footed Haflinger

Many of the children where I grew up rode to elementary school...this was the late 50's early 60's in farm country. Horses were our form of transportation...for trips to town, our friends, and even for dates! So I know them well and when I see an out of proportion horse drawing I cringe.

If you want to see good horse character and movement drawing from a master of drawing the horse look up Will James. A cowboy, writer, artist, early stuntman, and general all around character.

Jo said...

I look forward to it!

Erik Bongers said...

Couldn't help doing a bit on surfin' on these 'trekpaarden' (pull horses) or 'boerenpaarden' (farmer's horses).
Came up with this nice picture.
Note the date...
Some thinks just don't change.

James Gurney said...

Erik, thanks for those insights into the real Belgians. I will print them out and give them to the farmer.

Judith, I appreciate your observations and memories, too. The main problem I've had drawing the horses is that they're so friendly they come right over and block my view. That's why I only sketched Sophie's eye.

Andrew said...

Fantastic drawings, and fantastic stories about these massive beings.

This is a question I've often wondered, and it's probably one that could be solved with a simple internet search: Do draft horses and war horses come from the same stock? Are they even considered separate types of horses, or was it just the war horses came from draft stock, and eventually went back that way when heavy cavalry became obsolete?

Anonymous said...

Drew, being a historian, I'm somewhat entitled to answer your question (even though my speciality is Ancient Medicine, which is pretty far from draughthorses or warhorses :-)
Which was first, the draughthorse or the warhorse.
Well, the warhorse.
Horses were too expensive and too fine to be considered to pull a plough or even a cart in Ancient times. People used oxen. They could live on less feed, pull heavier loads and could be eaten in lean times.
Horses were too small, too.
The standard Roman cavalery horse would be considered a mere pony in these days. The Celts used ponies/horses to pull their chariots, which were light wicker affairs, used to transport warriors to the battlefield, but not used in battle as such.
That was much the case in the Ancient world; horses were swift transport for the wealthy, and status symbols, but not very practical for anything, really. The only exception to this were the horses of nomadic tribes, but even these were relatively small and were certainly not used for agriculture.
The heavy warhorse was bred in the Middle Ages, when armour got heavier and heavier.
Plough-oxen were used until at least the seventeenth centure, if not even longer. It would seem that the plough horse was a fairly recent development. I know that in the nineteenth century, a draughhorse was very important on a small farm, being so versatile. They could pull a plow, pull any heavy load, be put in front of a cart etc etc. I also know that oxen have fallen out of favor these past two centuries, but as to why horses have replaced oxen... I don't know (yet).