The Horse in Motion

Backward Glance

In 1872, Eadweard Muybridge settled a long-disputed question: at a gallop, does a horse have all four hooves off the ground at once? Many people thought this was impossible, while others believed it was likely – although they imagined the horse would have all four legs extended outwards, rather than tucked underneath, when airborne. The truth was revealed through Muybridge’s photographic sequences, which he attained by using twelve cameras to record precise miliseconds, essentially creating a stop-motion film. The shutter of each camera was set off by a thread as the horse galloped past! In order to view these photographs, Muybridge invented the ‘zoopraxiscope’, which is now considered an early film projector and indicated true progress in the journey towards motion pictures.

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Muybridge’s photography greatly increased our understanding of locomotion and aided in the development of many fields, from horse training to riding to the arts, and not least cinematography. It even helped to justify and develop the modern ‘forward’ jumping seat!

If you’d like to learn more about Muybridge’s life and photography, check out this great video by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.


References: Wikipedia: Eadweard Muybridge, Wikipedia: Federico Caprilli.

Image credits: Wikipedia commons.


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