My merch on Amazon was down for a while because of the pandemic going on, which is why I haven’t spoken about it for a few months. The shirtmaker had reduced staff so a lot of the available designs were down for a few months until production could get back to normal. I’ve been doing periodic looks to see when my designs were back up to the public, and this morning they had reappeared!
At the moment, I only have 10 design slots available on Amazon, which is why all of the Birthstone Horses designs aren’t available. If I make more sales on Amazon, I will unlock more design slots and be able to offer more shirts, so if you see a design that you know a friend will like, please share it with them! You can support an independent artist AND get Prime benefits.
I have the “February” shirt from Amazon and the quality is AMAZING. The print is big, crisp, and colorful and has held up to multiple trips through the wash. The shirt itself is a soft but thick high-quality fabric that feels amazing and isn’t transparent at all. I have a very thorough review of these shirts here on the blog if you’re interested in reading more about them.
The Quagga was long thought to be a distinct species, but early genetic studies have supported to being a subspecies of the plains zebra. A more recent study suggested that it was merely the southernmost ecotype of the species. The name was derived from the animal’s call, which sounded like “kwa-ha-ha.”
It is believed that the Quagga was around 8 feet long and 4-4.5 feet tall at the shoulder. Unlike other zebras, it had a limited pattern of brown and white stripes that were primarily on the front of its body, with a rear that was brown and without stripes. Little is known about the Quagga’s behavior. They were said to be wild and lively, yet more docile than the Burchell’s zebra. Before they were hunted to extinction, they were primarily found in great numbers in the Karoo of Cap Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State in South Africa.
When the Dutch began to settle in South Africa, the Quagga was hunted heavily because it competed with domesticated animals for forage. The Quagga was easy to find and kill, and was also hunted for meat and for their skins, which were traded or used locally. By the 1850’s the Quagga had disappeared from most of its natural range. The last known wild Quagga died in 1878. Prior to this, some animals were captured and shipped to Europe to be displayed in zoos. Breeding programs were set in place to save the Quagga from extinction, but they were unsuccessful. Only one Quagga was ever photographed alive, and only 23 skins are preserved today. The last captive Quagga died in Amsterdam on August 12, 1883.
The Quagga was the first extinct animal to have its DNA analysed, and the Quagga Project is trying to recreate the hair coat pattern and related characteristics by selectively breeding Burchell’s zebras. To differentiate between the Quagga and the zebras of this project (who are not Quagga, but lookalikes instead), the Quagga Project refers to their bred animals as “Rau Quaggas”. The introduction of these lookalike Quaggas back to the Western Cape area could be part of a beneficial restoration project to combat non-native trees and also maintain indigenous vegetation by grazing.
I feel a great love for the Quagga, since one of the goals of my Horses of the World illustrations is to spread awareness and encourage conservation of endangered breeds. The Quagga is the only extinct breed currently in the series, and I absolutely love telling people about it at in-person shows when someone inquires about them. I had a great time drawing and coloring this mare and her foal while imagining the Quagga brought back from extinction and once again roaming their native lands. Maybe one day the technology will exist to extract DNA from the preserved skins and clone the Quagga so that the actual distinct subspecies can be brought back, instead of just a zebra of similar coloring!
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The Andalusian horse derives its name from its place of origin, the Spanish region of Andalusia. Cave paintings show that horses have been on the Iberian Penninsula as far back as 30,000 BCE. The Iberian breeds have been influenced throughout history by different cultures and peoples who occupied Spain, including the Celts, Carthaginians, and the Romans. Some of the earliest written pedigrees were kept by Carthusian monks because they could read and write, and were therefore able to keep careful records, the monks were given the responsibility of horse breeding by members of the Spanish nobility beginning in the 13th century.
The Carthusians bred powerful, weight-bearing horses for the crown of Castile using the finest Spanish Jennets as foundation stock. By the 15th century the Andalusian was considered a distinct breed and was being used to influence the development of other horse breeds. The Andalusian horse by this time was also well-known for use as cavalry horses. In 1667 William Cavendish, the Duke of Newcastle, called the Spanish horse of the Andalusia area the “princes of the horse world” and reported that they were “unnervingly intelligent.” The Iberian horse became the royal horse of Europe and was used in many royal courts and riding academies. During the 16th century, inflation and increased demand for cavalry and harness horses drove the prices extremely high, and it was often impossible to find an Andalusian horse to purchase at any price.
During the 19th century, the Andalusian breed was threatened because of horses being stolen or requisitioned in wartime. One herd of Andalusians was hidden from invaders and was used to renew the breed. Then, in 1832, an epidemic seriously affected Spain’s horse population and one herd survived in a stud monastery in Cartuja. European breeders in the 19th and early 20th centuries changed from an emphasis on Andalusian horses to breeding Thoroughbreds and warmbloods, which further depleted the stock of Andalusians. Despite this, Andalusian numbers slowly recovered. Andalusians only began being exported from Spain in 1962, and there are currently around 8,500 animals in the United States.
The Andalusian breed has been known for their athleticism for centuries. These horses have been used for riding and driving since the beginning of their history, and they were among the first breeds used in Classical Dressage. They are also used today for show jumping, western pleasure, and many other activities in horse shows. Andalusian horses are also used in movies, including Gladiator, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
The Andalusian horse is truly a beautiful breed and I loved adding them to my series of illustrations. This was also one of the first breeds that I did with access to some new collections of map pages, which is why the colors in the background are a bit sharper and there’s more text than in previous entries in the series. I loved coloring all that long, black mane and shading the little braid in the front. I feel like this is one of my most elegant illustrations in this series!
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Lord Charles Somerset imported several Arabian and Thoroughbred stallions to South Africa in 1820. These stallions were bred to local mares, resulting in a riding horse called the Hantam horse or Cape horse. In the early 1900’s, Friesian stallions were imported to South Africa and crossed with the Hantam mares. A few east Friesian, Hackney, Oldenburg, and Cleveland Bay stallions were also used to introduce new blood to the line as well. In the process, the Hantam breed became extinct and was replaced with a more powerful breed that was capable of riding as well as harness work.
While the Vlaamperd breed was in development, the Dutch banned the export of Friesians to try and control breeding of the horses. South Africans began importing Friesians from Antwerp in Belgium to evade the law. They started referring to the Friesians as “Vlaamse perde” or “Flemish horses”, and this is where the name “Vlaamperd” came from.
The Vlaamperd averages between 14.2 and 15.2 hands, with an elegant and long-legged build. It is known for good motion, an easy disposition, and excellent driving ability. This makes the Vlaamperd a popular harness breed, driven singly or in teams of up to eight horses. They are also popular for riding, especially in dressage. The Friesian breeding gave the Vlaamperd a very dark color. All of the Vlaamperd stallions are black, though mares can be dark bay. Lighter colors are strictly prohibited and may not be used for breeding, as it is evidence of undesired crossbreeding.
I LOVE Friesian horses (of course I do, because I love hairy horses) but at the time of this illustration, I didn’t have the right map to do a Friesian. So instead, I found a look-alike breed from South Africa that most people have never heard of!
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The Chilean horse is the oldest horse breed from South America and the oldest registered stock horse in all the Western Hemisphere. The pure genealogy of the Chilean horse precedes the date of its formal breed registry, however. Diego Almagro brought the first horses to Chile in 1536, but it wasn’t until Pedro Valdivia settled in the region of New Toledo that horses were imported with the intention of starting a breeding program. Clergyman Rodrigo Gonzalez de Marmolego was declared the first horse breeder in the territory in 1544. His emphasis on producing quality animals set a precedent for the breeding program.
By the 19th century, Chile was considered to be the producers of the highest quality horses in Latin America. Some of their best horses were exported to the courts of many parts of the Americas and even to Europe. The first serious US breeder of the Chilean horse didn’t start until 2005.
The Chilean Horse is between 13.1 and 14.2 hands with an average weight of 1,000 pounds. It has one of the thickest manes, forelocks, and tails of any horse breed in the world. It has tough skin covered by a thick coat of hair. Chilean horses come in all colors except a true white, cremello, perlino, or smoky cream. Dark colors, dun, and grullas are the preferred colors for the Chilean. The breed is very hard, an easy keeper, and is amazingly resistant to diseases. They have a remarkable ability to recover from injuries and sickness, with a high threshold for pain. Chilean horses love to work and are eager to please.
The Chilean horse was one of the first breeds I added after the initial six drawings I did in this series. Because I only had one atlas to choose maps from, I found a page that I liked and then found a breed to put on it instead of researching a breed and then choosing the map. It’s difficult to find a lot of info on this breed, and the information that I used for this blog post came from www.ChileanHorse.com
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Banei Kyoso (literally “pull race”) is a Japanese horse race that has its probable origin in agricultural work. Draft horses are used to pull heavy sleds up sand ramps, in the way that horses were used to pull farming machinery and sleds of wood, while jockeys balance on the sleds. Eventually, the strength and speed of these horses were tested in festivals in the late Meiji Era.
The popularity of the races grew, and by 1953 Hokkaido’s four cities of Kitami, Asahikawa, Iwamizawa, and Obihiro began to manage races. The former three closed up racing operations in 2007 because of declining revenues. Obihiro is now the only active racecourse and hosts races most Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays. The Obihiro racecourse nearly closed in 2006 before Softbank, a Japanese mobile phone company, bailed them out and provided funds to continue races. Rakuten, Sapporo Breweries, and other companies have also added their sponsorship and several other programs have been started, including a race-sponsoring initiative for individuals. In addition to the regular weekend races, special occasions are also marked with ban’ei. There are many regional races too, known as ban’ei koshien.
A ban’ei course is 200 meters (660 feet) of dirt track with rope-separated lanes in the sand. There are ten lanes in a track, each with a starting gate and two hill-shaped obstacles. The second obstacle is a steeper hill called the Ban’ei Point. Horses pull heavy sleds, weighing from 450 kilograms (990 pounds) to 1 ton, down the track while jockeys stand on the sleds and steer the horse with a set of long reins. The amount of weight a horse must pull is determined by several factors. Young horses and mares pull less weight than older horses and stallions. The horse’s group and rating, determined by previous winnings, further determines the weight of the sled.
Ban’ei racing is about strength, not speed. Because of this, the horses used in Ban’ei are often purebred on crossbred Belgian, Breton, or Percheron draft horses. There is also a Japanese draft horse, which was created by crossing purebred and half-bred horses together for five consecutive generations. Ardennes, Clydesdale, Shire, Brabancon, Breton, Boulonnais, Belgian, and Percheron horses have been cleared for this breeding program. Japanese draft horses that aren’t used in ban’ei racing are usually used in horse meat production.
I first learned about Ban’ei racing from an anime called Silver Spoon that I watched on Netflix a few years ago. I found the slow horse races that emphasized strength instead of speed to be pretty fascinating! When I started doing research for adding a ban’ei horse to the Horses Of The World, I was uncertain about it at first. Because all of the horses up to this point had been a specific breed, and ban’ei racing isn’t limited to one breed of horse, I wondered if it “fit” into the series. However, I ultimately decided to include the Ban’ei horse because I believe it’s a unique event that is on the verge of extinction, so I wanted to be able to spread awareness of it in even some small way.
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Northeast of mainland Scotland lay the Shetland Isles, where small horses have been kept since the Bronze Age. People who lived on the islands likely crossed the native stock with imported ponies from the Norse settlers and also with Celtic ponies. The harsh climate and food scarcity made the Shetland ponies develop into an extremely hardy breed. Shetlands have small heads, widely spaced eyes, and small and alert ears. A short, broad back and deep girth are universal characteristics of the breed. They are hairy little ponies, with long thick manes and tails and a dense double winter coat. They can be nearly any color, though only crossbreeds can be leopard-spotted or champagne.
Shetland ponies are usually gentle, good-tempered, and highly intelligent. They make very good ponies for children and are sometimes noted for their bravery. Because of their intelligence and size, they are easily spoiled and headstrong unless properly trained. The Shetland is the strongest of all horse and pony breeds in relation to its size, able to pull twice its own weight in comparison to a draft horse that can pull around half its own weight. It is not unusual for a Shetland Pony to live thirty years or more. However, their small size can also predispose some to heart problems.
Shetland ponies were first used for pulling carts, carrying peat and other items, and plowing farm land. As the Industrial Revolution increased the need for coal in the mid-19th century, thousands of Shetland Ponies were sent to mainland Britain to work underground carrying coal for what would likely be their entire – often short – lives. Some coal mines in the Eastern United States also imported Shetland Ponies for work. The last of these pony mines in the U.S. closed in 1971.
Today, the Shetland Pony is ridden by children and are shown by both children and adults at horse shows and in harness driving classes. They can also be found giving pony rides in commercial settings such as fairs and carnivals. Some petting zoos and therapeutic riding programs also use Shetlands in their programs. Miniature Shetlands, as well as other miniature breeds, can also be trained as guide horses.
I had gotten several requests for the Shetland Pony at events and from my on-line fans as well, and I was delighted to find this map that actually has an inset of the Shetland Isles on it! It seemed like fate and I knew that I had to draw the adorable little Shetland on this map. One of my favorite things about drawing horses is manes – I just love long, flowing manes and tails – so drawing a cute hairy little Palomino pony with a long mane was so enjoyable. I think this guy is so cute and I love how this illustration turned out!
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In the Islands of Great Britain and Ireland, a small, solidly-built, and often “piebald” colored horse was developed by the Romanichal Travellers to pull the Vardoes in which they lived and traveled. This horse came to be known as the Gypsy Cob, Irish Cob, Gypsy Horse, or the Gypsy Vanner. The Romanichal people arrived in the British Isles around 1500 AD, but did not start living in the vardo wagons until around 1850. Peak usage of the caravan wagon occurred in the late 19th century and the first two decades of the 20th.
Pulling a vardo takes some unique training and management of horses, and requires a horse with specific characteristics. Vardo horses are trained not to stop until they get to the top of a hill, because otherwise it may not be able to get the wagon started again. Training begins at an early age, with the young horse tied to the offside of the trace ring on the collar of the horse pulling the wagon. To keep a fearful horse from seeing over the top of his blinkers, an old hat is sometimes placed on top of the horse’s head. Vardo horses were usually in great body condition due to the combination of exercise, grazing a variety of vegetation, and good quality care. The horse was considered part of the family, and lived in close proximity with its owners.
The Gypsy horse as we know it today began taking shape shortly after World War II. When the British Roma began using animals to pull wagons, they used mules and any unwanted horses of a suitable breed to do the job. Later, these included horses that had fallen out of fashion in mainstream society, including a significant number of Shire horses. Many spotted horses ended up with the Romanichal breeders and were considered a valuable status symbol within the culture. The initial greater height of the Gypsy Vanner breed is derived from the influence of Clydesdale and Shire horses. The Romani people who developed the Gypsy Vanner horse communicated pedigree and breed information orally, so information on the foundation stock is mostly anecdotal.
The Gypsy Vanner horse for my Horses Of The World Series is one of the few where I was able to take the reference photo for the drawing myself. I met this Gypsy horse at a local event I was selling my art at and instantly fell in love. I asked permission of the owner to take a photo of the horse and use it as a reference for the image. It was a joy to meet this sweet guy, and to draw his likeness for this illustration!
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The Curly horse (also called the Bashkir Curly, North American Curly Horse, and American Bashkir Horse) comes in all colors, sizes, and body type – but is well known for its calm, intelligent, friendly personality, and their unique coat of curly hair.
The gene that gives the Curly horse its distinctive hair is most obvious in their winter coat. The gene can be expressed minimally, with curly hair just inside the ears, at fetlocks, and a wavy mane and tail. It can also be expressed maximally and in “extreme” ways. The maximal expression has curls all over the horse’s body, a “dreadlocked” mane, and curly eyelashes. The extreme expression shows tight curls all over the horse’s body, but this coat usually sheds out to almost bald in the summer. Summer coats on a curly horse show a slight wave.
The gene that gives the coat its curls is a heterozygous one, which means that some purebred Curlies show no curl at all. These are called “smooth coat” Curlies.
Caring for the curly hair is fairly simple. Most owners choose not to comb the mane to keep the coats from losing their curl. Manes are trimmed often to keep them from matting. Tails can be combed as normal. Many people collect the shedded hair from the mane and tails in Spring and donate it to the ICHO Fiber Guild to use the hair for spinning.
It is claimed that the Curly horse is the only hypoallergenic horse breed, as most people with horse allergies can handle them without an issues. A study was conducted that indicated a protein is missing from the hair of the Curly Horse that may be what causes allergic reactions, but the study was never published. Members of the Curly Horse community are trying to fund more research on this topic.
Research into the origin of the Curly horse is highly debated and is still being researched. Disagreements of the origin of the breed have resulted in confusion of what the breed is and what it should be called. Some organizations in the community want the word “Bashkir” removed from versions of the name because a 1990 study indicated that it is unlikely that the Bashkir horse – which also has a curly coat – is an ancestor. One theory is that the origins of the breed are Iberian.
The Curly horse was first recorded in Eureka, Nevada in the early 20th century by a rancher named John Damele and his sons. Mustangs were a common sight in the area, but horses with a curly coat of hair were not! Years later, the Dameles managed to catch one of the curly-coated horses, break it to ride, and sell it. In 1932 an unusually cold and harsh winter hit the area and by spring the only horses that could be found were the Curlies. This was evidence of the Curly horses’ hardiness, and the Damele family noted it and decided they should include more of these horses in their herd. After another harsh winter in 1951-1952, the family got serious about breeding the Curly horse. They found a foundation stallion in one of the Mustang herds – a two-year-old chestnut they named “Copper D”. The family didn’t care much about keeping the horses “pure” and added more blood to the herd, introducing a Morgan and an Arabian stallion among other breeds. Out of this one herd came the hundreds of pedigree Curly horses that are registered today.
Curlies are eye-catching and unusual in the show ring, and have the movement, endurance, and spirit for competition. They have been shown in the upper levels of some of the most elite equestrian events, including dressage and showjumping. Curlies are quiet, level-headed horses that don’t spook easily, making them excellent first horses for beginner riders. Riders with horse allergies have ridden Curlies from the beginning stages to the more advanced of competitions. The breed has also been used for driving, western events, ranch horses, trail horses, and companions. Curlies have been crossbred with some gaited breeds, resulting in about 10% of offspring that will do an ambling gait called the “Curly Shuffle”. The breed is not used for horse racing or high-trotting showing.
I am fascinated with the Curly horse! I think their curls make them absolutely adorable and unique, and felt that they deserved a place among the “Horses of the World” series. It was difficult to come up with a way to show the fur texture on the chest of my drawing, but I’m very happy with the outcome of the mane! The Curly was drawn with ink and colored pencil on a map page.
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The Misaki horse is a small, dark-colored horse breed in Japan that is critically endangered. It is one of eight native Japanese horse breeds, and is a feral horse that lives in a designated National Monument on Cape Toi (Toimisaki), on the island of Kyushu.
Japanese horses are thought to descend from stock brought and different times from various parts of the mainland of Asia. The first of these importations took place, at the latest, in the 6th century. Horses were used as pack animals for farming, not draft power. They were also used in warfare. The horses were not large, as evidenced by 130 horse remains that have been excavated from battlefields dating back to 1185-1333 AD. The Misaki breed was first identified in the historical record in 1697 when the Akizuki family rounded up feral horses and developed a breeding stock.
The horses are a popular draw for tourists in the area where they live. Both the Misaki and the Cape Toi are were declared a Natural Monument in 1953. The Misaki is also a Japanese National Natural Treasure, which puts it under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties.
In 2007, the Misaki was classified as “critically maintained”. The population is approximately 120 animals, up from a low of 53 recorded in 1973.
I absolutely love Japan and so the chance to illustrate a Japanese breed could not be passed up! After doing research on several of the Japanese breeds, I decided on the Misaki because I was touched by their classification of critically endangered and that they are one of the rarest horse breeds in the world. I imagine the Misaki horse in my illustration to be looking at a human tourist, curious but also full of wild beauty.
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