Although the horse appears in Moore's oeuvre as early as 1923, the present sculpture is one of only a few representations of the motif that Moore created and the only one enlarged from the maquette to working-model size, having been originally cast in 1978 in an edition of seven measuring 21 cm. long (LH740). Moore approached his depictions of animals with much the same simplicity and voluminosity as his human figures, making no distinction between the essence of different living things.
'Although my work is fundamentally based on the human figure - and it's the human figure that I have studied, drawn from, modelled as a student, and then taught for many years at college - because the human being is an animal and alive, naturally one is also interested in animal forms which are again organic, alive and can move. I see a lot of connections between animals and human beings and I can get the same kind of feelings from an animal as from the human being. There can be a virility, a dignity or there can be a tenderness, a vulnerability' (Moore, quoted in D. Mitchinson (ed.), Henry Moore Sculpture with comments by the artist, London, 1981, p. 148).
Moore's interest lies not in the anatomy of his subject but in its elemental and inherent form. Stripping the horse down to its essential shape and structure, he gives no indication of musculature or of movement, although the animal has a grace and dynamism that belies its stasis. As Reinhard Rudolph comments, 'Moore's horse is made up of a sequence of solid, abstracted forms, seamlessly connecting and rhythmically worked through the animal's body; the essence of a thoroughbred is captured in the fluid dynamism of the bronze shape. Nonetheless, the animal projects a physical alertness, ears upright and head tilted. Eyes and nostrils are indicated by the simplest circular incisions, but are immediately recognisable. Any part of the body, however, which does not constitute or lend itself to being made into solid, rounded form has been cut away. Legs, tail, mane: these appendages are of no relevance; they have been eliminated, as only voluminous form matters in this representation. The horse's legs are left as solid stumps, the cropped tail echoes the shortening of the legs, although the rugged toolmarks in this area create visual tension contrasted with the overall smmoth surface of the sculpture. Non-figuration is taken furthest in the modelling of the hind-quarters of the animal: Moore employed an almost identical anthropomorphic shape to the one used for the lower leg and foot section of the large Mother and Child: Block Seat, cast the same year' (R. Rudolph, in D. Mitchinson, A. Bowness et al., op. cit., pp. 334-335).