First Order of Business


Commission requirements: a life-size Hackney cob-tail stallion, 53” at the wither, wearing stud tack, trotting. The first thing I always do when accepting a commission is to read the requirements. You’d be surprised how often the artist’s who submit designs for a competition or private commission don’t follow the requirements listed in the call for artists. I’ve been told I was the only artist who submitted a design for the Barbaro sculpture that reflected what the commission required. I guess it’s the military brat part of me that knew there are rules and you have to follow them in order to participate! Same thing goes with the art world.

For those unfamiliar with these terms the life-size horse is self-explanatory, cob-tail means a shortened tail on the horse. This was a requirement for a driving horse so the tail won’t get wrapped in the lines or reins while driving. The shape of the hackney is robust and the old term is cobby i.e. rounded. I like to think of a Hackney as being a three circle shaped horse. The stud tack is a belly band and bridle. This is the required tack to lead the Hackney in an in hand class, or a model class where the horse is judged for his physical attributes and movement. No rider is allowed, or a vehicle that the horse would be pulling.

In the old days and maybe even today in some countries a stallion is taken from farm to farm for breeding rather than the mares brought to him. Novel idea today wouldn’t it be for the stallion to show up at your door? That reminds me of a breeding we did where the stallion owner sent us his stallion for the cover. A very nice filly resulted from this visiting stallion. But to continue, traditionally the stallion wore stud tack to insure that the handler could control the stallion while breeding.

I drew a sketch of the movement I wanted to depict in the sculpture and submitted it to the client for his approval. After the approval, I created a small version where I work out the details for the next step, construction of the life-size sculpture. Next I made a clay sketch of sorts which is about 10″ tall.

Once I made the smaller version, a thumbnail of sorts, I was able to design the armature for the larger piece. First the drawing below; which is a plan for the placement of the supports. It has to stand up,and carry the top layer of clay.

Then construction began This was accomplished by using plumbing pipe, a wood support to attach it to and malleable wire to create the parts of the horse that I would be creating.

Then large pieces of foam was glued together and attached to the armature.