Horses in Motion


Photos made by Eadweard Muybridge in 1887, set in a motion sequence to show galloping in the horse — here a thoroughbred bay mare named “Annie G.” Animation by User Waugsberg.

This animated gif was made by synching a series of still images photographed by Eadweard Muybridge in 1887. He made the originals by using a series of cameras and string-triggers. Muybridge made the photographs at the request and backing of Leland Stanford, a race-horse breeder who thought photography could answer the question that had divided riders, trainers, and even artists for centuries: “Do a horse’s feet ever leave the ground all at once during a gallop?” It took Muybridge six years to find a method that would give a definitive answer — and the evidence was considered so conclusive it was even published in the journal Scientific American.

Citation: The original photographs were published in his Human and Animal Locomotion series, (plate 626, thoroughbred bay mare “Annie G.” galloping), published by the University of Pennsylvania. This animation is by User Waugsberg. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Muybridge_horse_pacing_animatedHere’s another animation from Muybridge’s series of high-speed photographs, also published in 1887 (full citation below). This time it shows a pace. One of the more intriguing things to notice is the rider’s leg, back, arm, shoulder, and head, which remain remarkably steady. Also notice the rhythmic way the horse’s mane moves. It flares up and backwards, then lies down, then flares up again. The still sequence below this section allows you to correlate movement of the horse’s mane with how its legs are moving. Look and see if you can spot a connection that tells you why the mane moves in this particular rhythm. What might it suggest about the biomechanics of the horse’s pacing gait? This is the type of thing you’ll learn in “The Science of Riding with Feel: Horse Biomechanics and You.” Its sections on gait explain the correlation between mane and feet you see here. Those passages and others in the Workbook then help you understand how to apply that understanding of gait to riding with a better sense of feel.

By the way, these animated gifs demonstrate why we plan to put supplemental materials online for free access. Moving images that are clearly explained, and that are also correlated to still images and other kinds of data, enhance everyone’s understanding  and enjoyment of horse biomechanics. And that’s our primary goal, to make it possible for every horseperson to learn the things about horse biomechanics they’ve been telling us they want and need to know.

muybridge pace sequenceBe sure to read The Story of why we wrote this book and our Plan for getting it into your hands.

Credit for the pacing gif: Animated sequence of a horse pacing. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). Animation by Waugsberg, 2006-10-8. (The sequence is set to motion using frames of Human and Animal Locomotion, plate 591, “Pronto” pacing). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Credit for the series of still images of pacing: BPLDC no.: 08_11_000582 Title: Animal locomotion. Plate 591 Volume: Vol. IX. : Horses. Creator: Muybridge, Eadweard, 1830-1904 Copyright Date: 1887 Extent: 1 photomechanical print : collotype Genre: Collotypes; Motion study photographs; Book illustrations Description: Pacing; saddle; brown horse, Pronto Subject: Horses; Horseback riding; Animal locomotion Notes: Plate in: Animal locomotion : an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements, 1872-1885 / By Eadweard Muybridge. Philadelphia : University of Pennylvania, 1887, v. 9; Plate descriptions from: Animal locomotion : an electro-photographic investigation of consecutive phases of animal movements : prospectus and catalogue of plates / by Eadweard Muybridge. Philadelphia : Printed by J.B. Lippincott Company, 1887. BPL Department: Rare Books Department. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.