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Anatomy in Action - A Biomechanical Illustration of Equine Movement

Updated: Jun 5

"Anyone studying locomotion and movement will, at some point, come across the incredible body of work by Eadweard Muybridge." says Gillian

Eadweard Muybridge was an English photographer who studied the movement of horses in the mid to late 1800s. It had long been debated whether there was a moment of suspension when a horse gallops. Someone who wanted to prove that this was the case was racehorse enthusiast Leland Stanford and he tasked Eadweard and his photographic skills to settle the debate once and for all.

After a few unsuccessful attempts, Eadweard came up with the idea of arranging 24 cameras at intervals of 27 inches. The cameras were attached to tripwires that were triggered by the horse's legs. The photographs were taken in rapid succession - one twenty-fifth of a second apart.

The images that were captured showed that at certain points of the gallop stride, the horse lifts all four legs off the ground together, proving there is a moment of suspension.

Eadweard then went one stage further putting the images and using his own invention created a photo-motive. He created the world's first ever moving picture (proto-movie!) and it was of a galloping horse!

Eadweard Muybridge, locomotion, gallop, biomechanics,

He also studied the sequences of footfalls in all the gaits, which is all pretty impressive and all thanks to his skill and perseverance. His work photographing motion fascinated horse enthusiasts and scientists who were eager to understand more about animal locomotion. However, it also laid the groundwork for modern motion pictures.

I first came across the work of Eadweard Muybridge when I was studying at university. Looking at his photographic studies of horse movement sparked my fascination for the subject. As time passed and after I started doing Horses Inside Out lecture demonstrations, an idea started to take shape...

Wouldn't it be great to produce a comprehensive catalogue of equine movement, similar to what Eadweard Muybridge did all those years ago but showing all the movements modern horses do AND with the skeleton illustrated on the horses and riders!

I wanted to create something that would be valuable for anyone studying movement, locomotion and biomechanics, something that would be useful for training people to assess movements as well as understand them. Of course, "all the movements" that the horse performs is no mean feat and I wanted multiple examples of each gait or movement from different types of horses. .

Five years later – after many days painting horses and capturing horse’s movement on camera and high-speed video, Anatomy in Action was published. Consisting of over 250 images, 28 fold out pages accompanied by 28 slow motion videos, the book includes horses from a wide variety of disciplines performing a variety of gaits.

Celebrating the Horse

Each movement is presented as a progressive series of images in fold out pages, that enable you to imagine what is happening under the skin, and to fully appreciate the versatility, elegance, strength, beauty of the horse in motion. There is also a short biomechanical explanation with each of the movements.

When you buy the complete collection, you also have access to the accompanying video course. This truly enhances your learning and takes you on a fascinating journey covering equine movement in great detail.

Seeing the images and videos in Anatomy in Action helps us to appreciate what a long way we have come both in our understanding of how the horse moves compared to Eadweard Muybridge’s day. Thanks to the cutting-edge photographic equipment and modern technology we have today, we are able to capture the movement, elegance and beauty of these wonderful creatures in amazing detail.

Anatomy in Action is a book to be treasured and one that will be referred to time and time again for many years.

What other people say about Anatomy in Action

“Like Gillian, I am fascinated by how a horse moves, jumps and copes with the vigour of training and competing," says Caroline Moore, FBHS.

"This highly educational video course is an unbelievable insight into the brilliance of equine dynamics, covering all the necessary movements. For any coach, rider, student or horse owner who wants to further their knowledge, this is an invaluable tool to understanding how we can improve our training methods and longevity in the competition horse. I thoroughly enjoyed it.” Caroline Moore FBHS


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