With the race for the Triple Crown underway, it seems even non-equestrians are currently focused on what makes the perfect racehorse.
So now seems the perfect time to revisit a few famous ways in which the racehorse form has been immortalized in film. First up is the entrancing work of the veteran British collage artist and filmmaker John Stezaker.
In his 2012 work, “Horse,” the photograph of every racehorse advertised for stud in the Stallion Annual, in order, from 1984 until the publication changed format in 2001 flashes in rapid succession on a screen as big as a billboard. The effect is shimmering, jittery, and in fact represents an accelerated genetic history of the racehorse.
Interestingly, Stezaker’s racehorse film reminds almost every critic of another famous horse film, Eadweard Muybridge’s well-known photographic studies of the horse in motion.
In the 1870s, Muybridge’s photographic skills were called on to prove whether a galloping horse lifts all four hooves off the ground at one point in its sequence of motion. His patron for the project was businessman, racehorse owner, and former governor of California, Leland Stanford.
Although the human eye couldn’t see it, Muybridge’s lens ultimately proved what every horse lover knows instinctually—that horses give us wings! Even if you didn’t know the history, you’ve probably seen this film before.
To create a cinematic effect in these early days of technology, Muybridge copied his images in the form of silhouettes onto a disc to be viewed in a machine he had invented called a zoopraxiscope. This device was later regarded as an early movie projector, and the process as an influential step toward motion pictures or cinematography.
The end result of Muybridge’s endeavor’s today is that cinematic masterpiece of sorts, known as the sports-related television commercial. This year, like always, these commercials dominated the Kentucky Derby coverage. The best comes from Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey, and really brings the discussion of horses influencing art influencing our understanding of horses full circle.
In case you missed it, enjoy!
Finally, for a little bit of humor, try this commercial for an insurance company that’s ready to help you just in case you bought the wrong horse!
About the Author
Marjorie Wilkinson is the co-founder and co-editor of Counter-Canter Culture—a revolutionary online publication intended to unite the equestrians and equestrian-enthusiasts who aren’t afraid to kick up the dust that has settled on the conventional equine lifestyle. She is also a real-life Hollywood music supervisor and the official curator of Counter-Canter Culture’s musical column, 100% Sound.