Monday, May 20, 2013

Muddy Monday: Sabino Before Sabino Was Cool

May 20 Muddy Monday: Sabino Before Sabino Was Cool

Even if "Butch" is a hipster name, he doesn't rub everyone's nose in it. Sure, he was the original sabino. But, like, he won't brag about it. 

So, I will. Maureen Love glazed sabino markings decades before the model horse hobby even knew what they were. Not only that, but she did it in her own style: a loose glaze Impressionism, that makes him look like part of the earth.

When this Hagen-Renaker mold Butch was sold in her estate auctions, the photo didn't really show just how much detail he had. He sort of looked just... dirty. Recently, I visited the collection of his owner, Jo Ellen Arnold, and took these shots to share with you all. How amazing is this guy?!

Look how the splotches of white glaze follow hair growth pattern on his flanks and rear. She even did his throat and the pink chin spot. These aren't splatters, they were applied with purpose.

All of this intimate detail makes one wonder who the color reference foal was, because this would have required photographing or observing every angle from life. Photos taken from every angle of one sabino horse were not something commonly found in popular horse books of the time. Even pictures of contemporary TV and movie horses, with all the angles, were subject to Hollywood airbrushing*. I can't even think of a famous sabino like this.

Look at that belly white pattern! The holes in the bottom of the hooves are often seen on Maureen's own glazed horses. They were often factory-discard castings that she took home to decorate in her own way. This Butch was cast and glazed sometime between 1960-61, 1964-5, 1968-70. It would be difficult to pinpoint his exact birth year, unless his bare foot holes can be wetted, to reveal his true slip color. That color might give us a clue.

There are glazed white hairs on the tips of his ear fuzz.

It is amazing how textured clay and glaze can give the impression of foal wool.

The Butch model is currently available from Hagen-Renaker as a reissue, in a variety of gloss colors. No sabino, but still very cute.

*True story. When I was hired to sculpt a portrait of a certain deceased Old Hollywood horse, the press photos, that I was given for reference, had completely airbrushed out his genitalia with pink. Just smooth. I had to ask if he was a gelding or a stallion.


Roller, Gayle. Hagen-Renaker: A Charlton Standard Guide. Third Edition. Page 78. The Charlton Press: Palm Harbor, FL, 2003.

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