Years ago I recall a conversation with the proprietor of Peter Pan Hobbies in Woden Plaza, Canberra (now long since defunct) about modelling trees. His advice (which I took to heart) was 'model a model tree off a tree.' Sounds simple but I apply the same theory to my horse models.
A lot of people have made a lot of comments about horse painting and there's more than a few figure painters who just hate painting horses. I suspect that the reason which underpins these feelings is that they are not crediting the beasts with the importnce they deserve. Even I tend to pay more attention to uniform details which is a major attraction to the Napoleonic period (for example). In cropping these photos for this article, there's one inclusion which still focuses on the figure as a whole rather than just the horse. I am ever mindful that horses are not mere vehicles for war but living, thinking feeling partners in battle. More like victims in reality but I find I pay a lot more attention to horse painting because I treat each one as a individual worth detailing.
Wargaming my Napoleonics these days using Black Powder, I find that even a single squadron (6-8 figures) can make their presence felt on the table-top. Consequently, it seems to drive me to pay a little more attention to details my cavalry than I might otherwise have done previously.
I long ago abandoned the generic brown horse concept of cracking out regiments of cavalry. Like the faces of the figures who ride them, I break up the colour schemes into as many varied groups as my desires and historical records permit.
This unit will be representing the 10th Hussars (British) and as such I'm sticking to the core schemes of browns - avoiding the blacks as more popularly reserved for heavy cavalry, and greys which were reserved for trumpeters more often than not. Of course what I really mean to say is that this light cavalry regiment are principally mounted on colour variants from the Bays and Champaigns.
By threes, I have gone for Bays, Blood Bays and Seal Browns for the darker schemes and Yellow Duns, Mouse Duns and Grulla for the mid ranges with a few classic champaigns and a buckskin or two thrown in for good measure. I am going for a Rose Grey for the trumpeter which is a colour I don't think I have ever tried to replicate before.
Admittedly, this time I'm using the above colour chart as my guide and not working from photos.It took me a week to finish the horses themselves without their furniture depending on how much time I can allocate but this sort of attention to detail makes it a challenge - not a chore.