With the eye accustomed to the results of instantaneous photography, it will be difficult indeed for the next generation to understand the reluctance of the artist and the horseman to give up, as proved fallacies, the preconceived ideas as to the attitudes assumed in the various paces. Until the publication of such series of photographs as those taken by Muybridge in America, and by Hayes in England, to say nothing of previous efforts in the same direction on the Continent, many artists held on to the hope that at least the gallop would be spared, and that the horse extended so as to have no limb to straighten against the ground, and supported only by the atmosphere under his belly, might be allowed to remain as it had come down to them through centuries. It should be remarked, however, in this connection, that several of the early Greek writers afford evidence of their more accurate estimate of the precise movements of the horse in locomotion, and the application of photography to this question goes to show that they were on the road to the discovery of what has for so many centuries since been a mystery, only to be revealed at last by the highly-sensitized plates and improved lenses which enable the photographer to fix for us images of animals in motion. With a range of twenty-four cameras, acted upon by the breaking of a cotton thread, Mr. Muybridge was enabled to take pictures1 (reproduced in Plate XII) of horses galloping past at all stages of the pace; and this has since been done by Captain Hayes, whose work on Points of the Horse will be found to supply details which space forbids in this article. But for the conservative attitude of the public in matters of art, Muy-bridge's photographs would have spoilt the value of what are still regarded as priceless works of the old masters, and as it was, there was considerable anxiety expressed by holders of many paintings of repute in which horses are represented in what we now know to be impossible attitudes. From the point of view of present-day artists, it may be said that the grace and symmetry of the leap-creations of a former generation of draughtsmen must be abandoned in favour of the more accurate definitions with which photography has supplied us.
The gallop is a "four-time" pace, in which the intervals are equal. The feet follow in succession, and there is a period of suspension between the putting of the leading fore-foot and opposite hind one to the ground. The fore-leg of the diagonal support comes to the ground after its hind fellow, while in the canter it was shown that the reverse was the case, the fore-leg coming to the ground either immediately prior to, or at the same time as, its hind fellow. The canter and gallop are much alike, and the former readily becomes a gallop by the greater extension of the leg that is not leading.
1 In his preface to The Horse in Motion, Mr. Leland Stanford says, " The time occupied in taking each of these views is calculated to be not more than the five-thousandth part of a second".
PLATE LIX. THE CANTER.
[From Animals in Motion, published by Chapman & Hall. Copyright 1887 by Eadweard Muybridge.].
The leading fore-leg in the gallop is more extended when it touches the ground than its fellow, and has also to afford a longer period of support than either of the other three legs. It follows, therefore, that the leading fore-leg is more subject to sprain of the back tendons and suspensory ligament than the non-leading leg. As the left fore-leg is the one usually chosen to lead because more convenient to the rider, it is found to be more frequently injured than the right. Captain Hayes thinks the ligaments of the leading fore-leg are sprained by over-extension and not by concussion, which latter is greater upon the non-leading leg "by reason of its coming on the ground at a moment when it is wholly unsupported by the other fore-limb ".
In the gallop, the horse seldom has more than two feet on the ground at the same time, and if a third touches it it is for the briefest possible period. The extreme extension of the fore-feet represented in many old prints is shown to be possible by some of Muybridge's photographs (see Plate XII), and in such positions of the body and forehand the face will have its profile vary between 40 and 55 degrees or even more.
If the reader will follow the figures he will get a more correct knowledge of the successive movements of the limbs in this most interesting, because fastest, pace of the horse, than from any verbal description we can give.