Saturday, June 1, 2013

Van Gogh -- the Horse

For many years, especially when I was deeply into the model horse hobby, I discovered that Van Gogh is a common name bestowed upon real horses (as well as model horses.)  I admit to once naming a model horse Van Gogh (because one of the ears broke off.)  I've never had a real horse or pony and so I never had the chance to think up a name for a real (as opposed to model) equine.

When I lived in England, there were many thoroughbred race horses named after classical composers or painters.  One horse I actually won some money on was named George Stubbs (an exceedingly appropriate name for that elegant thoroughbred.)  I also remember a racehorse named Van Gogh but I cannot seem to find any information on him.  I did find information on a Miss Van Gogh (2005 bay filly by Vindication and out of Heartwood) and a photo of another horse named Van Gogh on a blog about off-the-track thoroughbreds.

But I did discover a non-thoroughbred named Van Gogh (pictured).  He's a big bay warmblood stud, son of Numero Uno.  Both of his ears are intact, although he needs to wear earmuffs when performing before a crowd.  He's approved as a registered stallion in four breeds (KWPN, Oldenburg, Hanoverian, Italian U.N.I.R.E.).  He lives in Europe but does not need to actually visit the mares he inseminates.  Non-Europeans can buy his frozen semen from Bellingham, Washington for $275 and $375 if you live in Canada.

I can't help but think Vincent would have got a kick over this.  He also seemed to like horses and wrote about his sympathy for cab horses.  In one letter (catalogued as letter #582) to brother Theo, Vincent wrote, "In Paris, one is always suffering, like a cab horse ..."

Vincent also included horses in his art, but rarely.  Since he was so annoyed at Anton Mauve (well known for his horse and livestock paintings) Vincent may have purposefully excluded horses just because Mauve would include them in his works.  If Vincent had horse ears, they'd spend most of the time pinned to the sides of his head.

Often the close-up horses seem somehow bedraggled while ones in the distance pulling carts tend to seem jaunty with their heads, ears and tails up.  For more about the horses in Vincent's art, check out Equinest's The Horses of Van Gogh.  Eventually, I'll get around to writing a more detailed article on Vincent's horses.