Art in the Horse Realm: Drinkers of The Wind

watercolour painting chestnut arabian mare

Black Caviar, My favourite horse of all time!  She is, a Drinker of the Wind.  I love all horses but tend to be more partial to the Arabian breed. Thoroughbreds’ noble  history and origins started with 3 Arabian stallions in the late 1700’s.  The Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian and The Byerley Turk. Arabians have long been called “Drinkers of The Wind.”

watercolour painting chestnut arabian mare
Arabian Chestnut Mare watercolour painting

Arabian information   “Drinkers of The Wind”

The oldest known breed of horse, similar in type for over 4,500 years due to its selective breeding and strict breeding programs, desert bred  and very hardy.   Fast, one of the most intelligent breeds, excellent endurance. Has a short and level back, most Arabians have only 5 lumbar vertebra,  not the normal 6 of the other breeds.

Arabians have a distinctive high arched tail carriage, arched neck, wedge shaped heads with small muzzle, large eyes, broad wide forehead, refined features and dense and strong bone structure.  Intelligent, spirited, yet many treasured mares lived in the tents with their owners in ancient times.   Very sought after to refine and strengthen other breeds and types of horses.

The  3 Arabian stallions serving as the foundations of the Thoroughbred breed were the Godolphin Arabian, The Byerley Turk and The Darley Arabian.

The Darley Arabian was born about… 1700  in Aleppo, Syria. Being purchased and imported to England by Thomas Darley.  (About 98% of Thoroughbreds now can trace their lineage to this stallion.)

The Byerley Turk was imported to England 1683 by Captain Robert Byerley.

The Godolphin Arabian led a checkered life.   Born about 1724 in Yemen,  The Bey of Tunis, Syria gave the stallion to King Louis XV of France, who apparently disliked the stallion and used the horse to pull carts!  Edward Coke in 1730 imported the stallion to England, changing hands to Roger Williams, then again finally to the Earl of Godolphin.


Black Caviar Thoroughbred information

Famous Australian Thoroughbred mare unbeaten in every race.  Even after sustaining the injury  during her race, and unrefreshed from an overseas journey this mare  still had the heart to dig in and nose ahead for the win.   Beauty with heart.

Black Caviar,  with several  pedigree generations back through DISPLAY, Hastings, Spendthrift, ….. to a sire named Australia, by West Australia 1858,  by Melbourne 1834 these horses were born in England. I found it interesting that she has these horses in her pedigree as she is born and bred in Australia.

You will note, that I have no paintings of Black Caviar, or of thoroughbreds.  Indeed, the only images I use are the ones from my own photo collections and or memories in order not to infringe  from another artist/photographer’s hard work.    At this point, I have yet to memorise her well enough to try to paint her…maybe later.


American Pharaoh,   Thoroughbred information

One of only 12 horses to ever win the Triple Crown.  In 2015   winning the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes.

American Pharaoh,  several generations back through  FAIR PLAY, Hastings, Spendthrift, to ….. sire Australia, West Australia 1858, Melbourne 1834  and thus,  is distantly related to our lovely heroine Black Caviar.

What would happen I wonder if those two had offspring?!

American Pharaoh is descended from  Secretariat, a Triple Crown winner,   on his dam’s (Mom’s)  side.


Sidenotes,  my ideas about racing…..  I prefer racing tracks on grass for the horses legs,  I’d prefer that they be started at a more mature age,  no whips, planned aged care.  Just so you know I’m thinking, even if it is most likely, totally unrealistic.


Horses have a way of inspiring.

I’ve dreamt of having horses since I was a toddler.  When just 3 years old, I had memorised where the nearest horses were from my house. After many conversations trying to persuade parents to take me there to no avail, I set out on my own to go see the ‘horsies.’

Oh my.  I made it. But barely.  The police sirens scared the horses off.  And then I was in for it!!!     Thereafter,  I kept my dreams, to myself.   The mono print below is based on a nostalgic child’s perspective dreaming of one day owning a horse.

Dream Horse in Blue, mono print
Dream Horse in Blue – Monoprint

Many years later, my dreams of owning a purebred “Drinker of The Wind”   Arabian mare was realised.  With much work, effort, sacrifice I was the proud owner of a lovely natured mare with an impeccable blue blood pedigree and superb conformation.

The below Monotype print image, Lahbina,  is that of my mare.   The process for this image: I have several photos that I’d scanned into photoshop. Turned them into B/W, then line drawings.  Then printed onto papers. I had a play with tracings, grids, loose, freehand, inks,  pastels to get a feel for what felt ‘right.’

I ended up doing a combination of  some freehand, some loose lines and some that followed the general lines.  I did 3 of these. I was happy with one.   I took it, placed in under glass.  Then grabbed  some prussian and phalo blue printing inks and inked it up, placed print paper overtop and drew the lines over,  in a loose approach.  I tried not to be overly tight and stiff.  I wanted a  flowing smooth look.  Carefully I peeled the paper off the ‘glass plate’ to see what happened.  I did several as the first few I did not like.

Arabian Mare mixed media print
Arabian purebred Mare Lahbina, mixed media image in blue


Sienna Horse Linocut was a small linocut experimenting with using watercolours.

sienna horse linocut
Sienna Horse Linocut using watercolours


Riding on a part Arabian Chestnut
Riding Day on A Chestnut Part Arabian


learning to ride
Learning to Ride in Morning Fog

Without a doubt,  its evident that a passion for horses runs in our family. From aunts, sisters, grandparents, to grandchildren…. inexplicably some are drawn like moths to these wonderful creations, these drinkers of the wind.

Horse Ride in winter, b/w photo
Winter Afternoon Ride Down the Country Lane; BW photograph

Horse Books for Children

I have read many horse books over the years growing up, I really can’t pick any one as my single favorite.

But for those who have children bitten by the horse bug, these are  books I highly recommend.  The   Billy and Blaze series; King of the Wind; Misty of Chincoteague; Smoky the Cowhorse – published 1926 Will James;  Black Beauty; The Black Stallion series;  War Admiral;  Old Bones – Exterminator;  Man o’ War;   My Friend Flicka. These books are standouts.

These books with their illustrations and their rousing words, stirred my imagination. Inspired me. Kept my dreams alive.


As a preteen, I saved my money for my first-ever horse,  buying one for just $150 without a saddle.

Resolved,  I learned to ride bareback. Then, circus style standing on her back as she cantered about the paddock. Often going without the bridle as well, relying on leg pressure and voice only!

With visions of Billy and Blaze in my mind, I’d take my glossy bay mare out for country gallops. Through the fields and over fences we’d pretend to be out cross countrying!   And for that $150,  my mare, Scheherazade a 3/4 Arabian, was a very good investment. So very very  tolerant towards a young enthusiastic learner rider.

Stirrups Up  horse tack,
Stirrups Up horse tack saddle photograph

Very long post,   indeed trying to verify all the information floating in my head but hopefully alls good…….

Stirrups Up!

Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

10 thoughts on “Art in the Horse Realm: Drinkers of The Wind

    1. HI Mary, thank you. When I painted her, there was a lot of inner emotion that I’m sure comes out. She was my mare’s half sister.


  1. Hi Debi, “Alls (definitely) good.” Loved this posting. It is packed with so many wonderful elements: a touch of history and love of horses and books and times past and present and art and a bit of instruction all woven together in a beautiful personal posting. Thank you so much for sharing. Best wishes, Leslie

    and look forward to another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Leslie, fantastic! always a pleasure to hear appreciative feedback an esp. lengthy …. post! my thanks to you for your continued support and feedback 🙂 … on a sidetone, how’s painting coming along?? been doing any lately?


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