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Nose To The Ground, Issue #001 -- A Beagle, A Weathervane, and a Thoroughbred
August 15, 2004

Here's your August issue of Nose to The Ground;
the beagle-inspired newsletter bringing you the latest from

Hope you are having a great summer. After a wet spring in NW Montana it's warmed up, but no forest fires yet this year. Last summer it was one smoke-filled day after another. Nothing but blue sky so far this month. Horses are in good shape for summer riding. Built a shelter for the fjords; when it rains they stand next to it, don't go in as was the plan. Some training is needed here; something about "You can lead a horse to shelter but you can't ---". The shelter is mainly for the winter when we get below zero temps and high winds. Tough as they are, we feel better having some place for them to get out of the bad weather.

In this issue:

  • Article - Beagles, Weathervanes, and a Great Equestrian Painting Which Almost Wasn't
  • Whats New at "Your Guide ..."
  • Coming Attractions

August Article: The Beagle, the Weathervane, and Whistlejacket

A six-foot long steel sculpture of men on horseback graces a wall in our breakfast nook. The silhouette of the horsemen stands out an inch or so from the wall and the shadows produced by sunlight through the window gives a particularly dramatic effect. My wife contacted the artist, who frequents arts and craft shows throughout Montana, and asked if he might do a custom steel sculpture.

She sent a photograph (side shot) of Boo, our beagle, (the inspiration for "Nose to the Ground") and I was pleasantly surprised with a weathervane on my birthday. A perfect silhouette of Boo now graces the roof of our garage. The weathervane had been up for several weeks before Boo saw it. The hair on the back of her neck bristled and she began to stalk the weathervane from across the yard. "Woof - woof- woof", not too loud and definitely not the beagle yelp; just a soft but continuous "woof - woof - woof".

Eventually Boo figured she couldn't get to the strange black beagle, and it didn't seem terribly interested in coming to her so she eventually lost interest. We don't always know how animals will respond to something which resembles them. Generally they seem to ignore it.

One of the great works of equestrian art was almost never completed because of the reaction of the subject. The world of horse art owes much to the 18th-century English master painter George Stubbs. Stubbs was a scientist and expert in anatomy in addition to being an artist and a lover of horses. His study of the anatomy of the horse brought equestrian painting to a new level. Much of the art preceding Stubb's time appears almost primitive when compared to his works. While most consider Brood Mares and Foals to be his masterpiece, many also consider Whistlejacket a contender for that honor.

Whistlejacket was a racing Thoroughbred of some fame and Stubbs was comissioned by the owner to do a painting of the animal. The painting well demonstrates Stubb's knowledge of equine anatomy and the subject is particularly striking against the plain background which was a feature of most of Stubbs' work. The original painting would certainly be a treat to see as it is life size, measuring approximately 8 by 10 feet.

The story goes that as the painting was near completion, Stubb's was working on it out of doors, adding final touches. At Stubb's request, a groom walked Whistlejacket near the artist. Whistlejacket suddenly saw himself in all of his glory on canvas, snorted, and charged the canvas, intent of inflicting serious damage to the "intruder". It was only after a supreme effort that the groom and Stubbs were able to keep Whistlejacket at bay and save the painting.

I guess the motto of this story is to keep pictures of horses away from your horses ( especially life size pictures). Weathervanes, on the other hand, are generally safe from attacking beagles. Four gift ideas here: steel wall sculpture, weathervane (horses or beagles), a reproduction of the Whistlejacket painting, and finally, a very fine book The Horse in Art - (an ideal gift for the artist who loves horses or the horse lover who appreciates fine art. which you can find on our I Love Horses page.

Whistlejacket graces the jacket cover by the way.

What's New at Your Guide to Gifts for Horse Lovers

  • Magazines - For the horse lover working a small farm or ranch, plowing or logging with horses or mules, a subscription to Rural Heritage might be a nice gift. We recently received a brochure on this bimonthly publication and find their list of past articles quite interesting. They can be reached at; we've added this magazine to our specialty horse magazine page.

  • Tiny Horse Art - If your horse lover happens to collect stamps, a gift of Horses on Stamps might be appropriate. Over 5,000 stamps have been issued by 70 or more countries with an equine theme. This gift is admittedly a bit off of the beaten track, but being a stamp collector myself I thought it worthy of mention. Read more and see a few examples by visiting our Horses on Stamps page.

  • Museum Shopping - Added to our list of Museum Gift Shops :

    • The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame - books about cowgirls) and accessories with the museum logo

    • The Museum of the American West (Autry National Center) - books, posters, apparel and Gene Autry collectibles.

  • Horse Pictures: We find that many visitors to our site are interested in horse pictures so we are on the lookout for more examples of the "p'S" (paintings, photos, pictures, prints, posters and postcards). We've located a nice source of calendars featuring horses and will be working that into our pages. Now August might not seem the best time of the year to be talking calendars and we will no doubt be focusing on them more in the coming months until holiday shopping rolls around. The 2005 calendars are starting to make their appearance however and you can get a taste by visiting us at the "Art of David Stoecklein" page.

  • Horse Books - Upon reviewing Story'sHorse-Lovers's Encyclopedia ISBN # 1-58017-317-9 we felt it should be added to our four-foot bookshelf. This relatively recent (2001) book is aimed at the novice horseman or horsewoman and provides (literally) a basic equine education from A to Z; from Alfalfa, Andalusian and Astrohippus to Conformation, Cribbing and Cutting, from Foal Care, Foot Care and Foxtrot to Latches and Locks, from Paso Fino and Pegasus to Xenophon and Zebras .

  • Another horse book we've come across and can happily recommend is John Fairley's "The Art of the Horse" ISBN 1-55859-786-7. This is a great book for the artist who loves horse or the horse lover who appreciates fine art. The book contains over 120 reproductions of fine equine art (mostly paintings but a few works of sculpture) from the ancient cave paintings through works of the masters, to Remington and Bev Doolittle. The portrait of Whistlejacket adorning the jacket was the inspiration for this month's article.

    This book will be read from cover to cover more than once - guaranteed.

Coming Attractions

As mentioned above, there will be more information added this month relating to horse art and horse pictures, including calendars. Also in our plans is a page dedicated to the art of Canadian Artist Adeline Halvorson. Her last showing was at the Calgary Stampede Art Show. Her acryllics, the bulk of which feature horses, including draft horses are really quite exceptional.

(By the way, make a point to make a trip to the Calgary Stampede next year or at least once in your lifetime. You won't regret it)

See you in September!


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