How He Inspired Sculpture Equine Anatomy

I was committed to caring for this horse not because he had to do something great for me now, but because we were part of each others lives and I felt a moral responsibility to care for him in the best way I knew how.

So as I learned more about epyphisitis it lead me to study the skeletal structure of young horses. This produced several sculpture studies. My earliest piece is cast in bronze called the "Forehand Muscle Study for the Natural Trot" depicted in the story image from two weeks ago. This sculpture was published in the Ex Arte Equinus fine equine art book in 2008 and won honorable mention that same year.

I wanted to understand not only how to get him through this but how it was going to affect the rest of his life and how I might help other owners and horses prevent or care for such a life threatening ailment.

Now I want to take a step back here to explain epyphisitis. The epiphysis in the body are found at the joints. On the end of each bone there are pieces that are separate until the bone ossifies with maturity. This means the floating end of the bone attaches itself to the larger bone and becomes hard. When horse's are growing every joint in the body goes through this process at different stages of growth. Some bones don't ossify until 8 years old.

I was fortunate that Relampago's issue was mainly in his lower legs. Relampago's particular issue was that his breed is supposed to be small anywhere between 15-16.2h both Relámpago's sire and dam were over 17h which gave him the genetic pool to grow taller and more rapidly than his body could handle. This strained and over stretched the tendons and ligaments that support the skeleton causing his fetlocks to buckle or pop forward at random. To prevent additional stretching of the tendons he was kept on stall rest with controlled hand walking.

As the years went on I continued to study his anatomy. After more then one failed attempt to work with trainers... I took it upon myself to do my own training with him. It took me many years to believe in myself since I had fully bought into the belief that my background, stature, personality or whatever wasn't right for working with my own horse.

But my feet were once again set on a path that wasn't going to be changed. After crying my eyes out a few times I finally found a group of compassionate horse people that had an understanding of both the classical methods of training and the need to work within each horse's own timeline and physical anatomy. This meant there was no pushing the horse or the rider past their own personal limits. They had an abundance of videos I was able to watch to fill in those holes left from reading books. And a support group on facebook I actively took part in. It was a beautiful time of discovering my own capabilities with Relámpago while I watched him flourish and enjoy the journey.

But it wasn't without it's challenges and I learned a lot of important lessons along the way...

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Click here to visit my shop and see the Artwork Relámpago has inspired!

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