The Kelpies are 30-metre-high (98 ft) horse-head sculptures weighing more than 300 tons each and depicting shape-shifting water spirits known as kelpies. They are located between Falkirk and Grangemouth in The Helix parkland project in Scotland. The sculptures were completed in October 2013 and were designed by sculptor Andy Scott, fashioned in steel after two Clydesdales, Duke and Baron. The Kelpies are the the largest horse statues in the world.
The Horse Problem was an installation of sculptures by artist Claudia Fontes to represent Argentina at the 57th Venice Biennial in 2017. A girl is seen softly touching the nose of a giant, white horse frozen in mid-air as a young man cowers; the installation, which also features 400 scattered white rocks and is made from marble dust resin, represents the sculptor’s view on how nations develop across history, especially in her own country of Argentina.
Still Water (2010) by Nic Fiddian-Green is installed near Marble Arch in London, UK. The 33′ (10 m) work was commissioned to replace a similar but smaller piece entitled Horse at Water XV. The park is a favourite picnic area in London.
This statue group entitled L’Immortalite Devancent le Temps (“Immortality Outstripping Time”), located at one end of the Grand Palais in Paris, is known as a quadriga, a chariot drawn by four horses abreast. The bronze statue of horses and chariot were created by Georges Recipon, who also produced another quadriga at the opposite end of the avenue.
Mustangs of Las Colinas is a bronze sculpture by Robert Glen that occupies a fountain in Irving, Texas. The work was commissioned in 1976 and installed in 1984. The dramatic collection shows nine wild mustangs galloping through shallow water; the water effect adds a special touch and you can almost hear their hooves splashing through the river.
Sergeant Reckless was a very special war horse who served with the US Marines during the Korean War. She tirelessly carried ammunition from the supply camp to the front lines, often by herself, up to 50 times per day, sometimes returning carrying wounded soldiers. She was given two Purple Hearts and many other military decorations for her service. Sgt. Reckless died in May, 1968, and was buried with full military honours at Camp Pendleton. There are six national monuments created by Jocelyn Russell to memorialize Staff Sgt. Reckless around the country: National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, VA; Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton; Kentucky Horse Park, Lexington, KY; Barrington Hills, IL; National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, Ft. Worth, TX; and World Equestrian Center in Ocala, FL.
Bruce Davidson Riding Eagle Lion: This bronze sculpture by Jean Clagett depicting Bruce and Eagle Lion becoming the first American entry to win the Badminton Horse Trials in England in 1995 was a gift to the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY, from George Strawbridge, owner of Eagle Lion, as well as sponsors and loyal supporters. It is a perennial eventing fan favourite spot for selfies, and even the scene of at least one marriage proposal!
The statue The Day the Wall Came Down celebrates the day the Berlin wall was destroyed in 1989, reuniting Germany. It depicts five horses leaping over a collapsed section of a two-ton piece of the actual Berlin Wall. Two copies of this compelling statue were created by Veryl Goodnight in 1996 and 1998; one stands in Berlin, Germany and the other is outside the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas.
Leonardo’s Horse (Gran Cavallo) was originally commissioned by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, to Leonardo da Vinci in 1482 but was never completed. Leonardo studied horse anatomy and did extensive drawings and a clay model, but the bronze material intended for the final work – intended to be the largest equestrian statue in the world at the time – was used instead to make cannons. The full-size clay model was damaged by French soldiers invading Milan in 1499 and later succumbed to weather. Five centuries later, Japanese-American artist Nina Akamu brought Leonardo’s design to life. One full-size version resides at the Hippodrome de San Siro in Milan, unveiled in 1999; the other is in Grand Rapids, Michigan. There are a number of smaller versions around the world.
Chariot of Glory sits atop the Triumphal Arch in Palace Square, St. Petersburg, Russia. It was created by Carlo Rossi to commemorate Russia’s victory over Napoleon in 1812.
This stunning bronze statue of Hickstead was unveiled at the 2012 Masters tournament at Spruce Meadows to honour represents the Olympic gold-medal winning jumper Hickstead, ridden by Canada’s Eric Lamaze. The statue was designed by artist Mary Sand following the great athlete’s sudden death in November of 2011.
The Horses of Saint Mark, or Triumphal Quadriga, depicts four horses placed on the loggia above the porch of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy. The exact date of creation and the artist are in question; they appeared after the sack of Constantinople in 1204, were looted by Napoleon in 1797 and returned in 1815. The original sculptures are now housed in the interior of St. Mark’s for conservation purposes, and replicas have taken their place on the loggia.
Created by sculptor Gábor Miklós Szőke of Hungary, Colossus is made of thousands of individually welded stainless steel plates that form an 8.3 m. high (27′), 14.6 m. long (48′), 20-ton galloping horse. The artwork is situated next to the main entrance of the Olympic sports training center and leisure resort X-bionic Sphere in Šamorín, Slovakia.
World Champion Polish Arabian stallion Bask++ graces the lobby of the International Museum of the Horse at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington. It was created by Edwin Bogucki in 1997, an artist and horse owner from Racine County, WI. Bask was the first Arabian to be named U.S. National Champion Stallion and Top Ten Three-Gaited (Park) Horse in 1964, and went on to sire more champion horses than any other Arabian. He died in 1979 and is buried at KHP’s Champions Cemetery. Another Bogucki bronze of the great racehorse Secretariat, finished in 2004, stands in Secretariat Plaza at KHP.
Cheval à la Herse (Horse With a Harrow) by Pierre-Louis Rouillard (1820-1881) is a cast iron statue that stands in front of the Musée d’Orsay, a museum in Paris, France. It is arguably Rouillard’s best-known work (he preferred cast iron to bronze), and very well-travelled: when commissioned it was originally located at the Trocadéro Palace between 1878 and 1935, then moved to the Porte de Saint-Cloud area from 1935 to 1985 before being relocated at the museum in the mid-1980s.
The Flying Horse Of Gansu is an iconic bronze statue from the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220 AD) that resides in the Gansu Provincial Museum in China. Also known as the Bronze Running Horse or the Galloping Horse Treading on a Flying Swallow, it was discovered in 1969 near the city of Wuwei, unearthed from a tomb belonging to General Zhang by locals digging air raid shelters. Since 2002, the Gansu Flying Horse has been on the country’s list of cultural relics that are forbidden to be taken out of mainland China. A replica of the Flying Horse of Gansu was donated to the city of Lexington, KY, where it sits in front of the Chase Bank Building,
Another famous Canadian Olympic show jumper, Big Ben (April 20, 1976 – December 11, 1999), was immortalized in bronze and is situated in Stewart Park in Perth, Ontario, ridden by his longtime partner Ian Millar. The touching memorial was sculpted at Stewart Patterns, New Hamburg, ON, by Stewart Smith, Ruth Abernethy and Jean Abernethy, and cast in Bronze by Artcast Inc. in Georgetown, ON.
Pegasus and Dragon welcomes racing fans to Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The Strassacker Art Foundry created this largest bronze horse sculpture in the world at a cost of $30 million. At 100′ (30m) high and a total of 440 tons of steel and 264 tons of bronze, it is the third-tallest statue in the US after the Birth of the New World and the Statue of Liberty. At night the statue features a fountain show with music, LED lighting and a fire-breathing dragon.
The Goodman’s Fields Horses by Hamish Mackie, 2015, are located on the Piazza Walk in Whitechapel, London, UK. The installment depicts six bronze horses representing six different breeds galloping around a street corner and through a square, with four splashing through a fountain. They are meant to celebrate the horses which worked alongside humans in a variety of roles during London’s ascent to prosperity. The name is a nod to Roland Goodman, who owned farmland grazed by horses just outside the city of London in the 16th Century.
Adrian Jones, a former Royal Veterinary College (RVC) student and army veterinarian turned sculptor, created Duncan’s Horses in 1892, inspired by Shakespeare’s equines in Macbeth who turned wild and destroyed (ate!) each other. Originally a plaster cast, when Jones donated it to the RVC plans were made to cast it in bronze but his death in 1938 and the war put off those plans. The work was later coated in fibreglass and polyester resin to preserve it, which did not work well; in 1983 a fund-raising drive was launched to raise £30,000 to make the permanent bronze casting.
On London’s Picadilly Road is a fountain featuring a dramatic bronze sculpture called The Horses of Helios. Created by Rudy Weller in 1992, the horses are named Pyrois, Aeos, Aethon, and Phlegon, according to Greek mythology. Helios was the god of the sun, driving a golden chariot pulled by four powerful horses across the sky each day, moving the sun from East to West.
…and Some Weird Ones:
King Wenceslas Riding an Upside-Down Dead Horse: Hanging from the ceiling of the Art Nouveau Lucerna Palace in Prague, Czech Republic is this strange work by Prague-born artist David Černý (famous for painting a Soviet tank pink as a tribute to the Velvet Revolution). The sculpture is a sarcastic poke at the famous equestrian statue of the King that sits in Wenceslas Square, and may even mock Vaclav Klaus, who was the Czech president from 2003 to 2013.
Blue Mustang, a.k.a. Blucifer: This startling, colossal, semi-transparent demon-eyed horse statue greets you when you’re flying into Denver International Airport. Luis Jiménez, the sculptor who designed and created Blucifer, was tragically killed in 2006 when an enormous section of the 32-foot-tall, 4.5-ton statue fell and crushed his leg, severing an artery. His sons completed the work in 2008. Locals have either embraced it as a mascot, or requested to have it removed.
Gift Horse was a bizarre 15′ high sculpture of a horse skeleton by German artist Hans Haacke that was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in 2015. The riderless horse was commissioned by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London at the time. Haacke based his installation on an etching by George Stubbs; the “bow” on the front leg is a London Stock Exchange ticker tape with an electronic face, displaying a stream of numbers. It was replaced in 2016, as is usual for statues at Trafalgar, and became part of an exhibition in 2019/20 at New Museum in New York City.
The statue of Confederate general and cavalry officer John Hunt Morgan astride his mare named Black Bess is notable for an unusual reason. The Italian sculptor, Pompeo Coppini, created the work in 1911 but insisted, “No hero should bestride a mare!” and subsequently provided the necessary ‘boy parts’. University of Kentucky undergrads regularly painted the horse’s testicles in the school’s colours of blue and white. An unknown author penned the Ballad of Black Bess which concludes:
So darkness comes to Bluegrass men —
Like darkness o’er them falls —
For well we know gentlemen should show
Respect for a lady’s balls.
In 2018 the statue was quietly relocated to Lexington Cemetery in Kentucky, Morgan’s burial place.