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Nose To The Ground, Issue #002 -- A Weathervane and a Thoroughbred
September 15, 2004

Greetings from Nose to The Ground; the beagle-inspired newsletter bringing you the latest from

We hope you've had a great summer and a fine Labor Day weekend. As the days get noticably shorter thoughts somewhat reluctantly turn to preparing for the oncoming winter season. The horses are already showing some signs of starting their winter coats. It's a good time to check fencing, stock tank heaters and other things that you don't want to get involved with when there's a foot of snow on the ground.

It is also the beginning of shopping season and you can bet that we'll be keeping our eyes peeled for new and unusual gifts for horse lovers for the holidays. In the meantime, enjoy the beautiful fall weather, a wonderful time of the year!

In this issue:

  • Article - Beagles, Weathervanes, and a Great Equestrian Painting Which Almost Wasn't
  • Whats New on the Web Site
  • Coming Attractions

September 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 our Beagle, Boo, (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 to interested in coming to her so she 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.

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

  • We've recently added a mini gallery of another fine artist to our Horse Art page. The artist in question is Adeline Halvorson, who hails from Calgary, Alberta, specializes animal and equine art and has some wonderful paintings of draft horses.

  • Calendars Calendars for the coming year appear in bookstore windows and shopping mall displays just before Labor Day. Horse photography at its very finest is found in these calendars: wild horses, draft horses, performance horses, breeds, rodeo, and much more. We've added a page to our site featuring the coming years top calendars featuring some great horse photography. Of course calendars make great end-of-the-year gift ideas and we suggest you take a look at some of what is available in our Calendars 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.

    Coming Attractions

    Xenophon had it right. "Never get angry with your horse" he said, a couple of thousand years ago. Xenophon's "The Art of Horsemanshop" is the oldest known writing on horsemanship and shows that the concept of the "horse whisperer" is nothing new. More about Xenophon's works next month. See you in October!


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