In the present work, Moore has stripped the horse down to its essential shape and structure. He is not preoccupied with the animal’s anatomy, paying no attention to its musculature or the details of its movement. Rather, he composes the body through an arrangement of solid, abstracted forms. The reduction of the animal to a series of fundamentally simple and voluminous pieces is much the same as Moore’s treatment of the human figure. As the artist explained, ‘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 horse contains both dynamism and grace. The composition embodies movement through a forward bend and the torque of the body, even though the horse’s legs are in fact truncated. The cropped tail echoes the shortened legs, with rugged incisions on its end that visually contrasts with the smooth surface of the rest of the sculpture. The animal projects a state of alertness, its ears upright and head tilted. Moore provides simple circular incisions on the animal’s head to signify the eyes and nostrils. He employs a nearly identical shape for the horse’s backside as that which he used for the lower legs and feet of the large Mother and Child: Block Seat (Bowness, no. 838), conceived that same year, demonstrating the manner in which all living things were reduced by the artist to a series of elemental, simple forms.
The horse had appeared in Moore’s oeuvre as early as 1923, however the present sculpture is one of very few representations of the subject which the artist created. It is the only sculpture of the motif which he enlarged from the maquette (Bowness, no. 740) to working-model size. The cast numbered 0/9 of the present edition is in the collection of The Henry Moore Foundation, Much Hadham, Hertfordshire.