Gina and the perfect HoofPrint

Years ago I wanted to make a garment design that said Horses Leave HoofPrints on your Heart. I spent a ton of time working on it. I wanted the perfect hoofprint – to accentuate the phrase Horses Leave HoofPrints…

This is the best one out of what seemed like a thousand pictures of the dirt. Still not enough detail. I was frustrated.

Every thing I drew looked like a SHOEprint, so I went out and photographed barefoot hoofprints in the dirt. (my horses must have thought me crazy – following them around with the camera pointed at the ground.) The light was never right and my photos were not good.

I decided I needed more control – to get the spontaneous image that I was looking for, so I went in search of material to make a hoof impression. My son Jordan was little at the time, and he had to question, and then debate, every thing I say and/or do. He followed me through the store – asking 400 questions about how I was going to proceed with my scheme. Personally, I need a little silence to work out details in my head – so it made for an interesting event as I grouchily fielded his questions and tried to plan at the same time while we traversed the local K-Mart looking for a mega-pack of Play-Doh. I had never done anything like that before – so him drilling me as to what my next move was going to be was driving me crazy.

All they had was an assortment of multiple colors. FYI: if you mix all the colors (red-blue-white-yellow-green) of Play-Doh together, it becomes a nice reddish brown color.

After I got home, I kneaded up a suitable blob and hiked out to the barn to have a photo session with our pony Jack. I cleaned his little hoof the best I could and set it down onto the Play-doh blob that I’d carefully prepared on a cardboard base. In case you ever need to do this… be warned that this is not the right thing to do. Play-Doh squished everywhere, and the weight of the pony effectively cut the remaining clay – like a cookie cutter. I succeeded in filling his hoof with a lovely Play-doh “pad” – but didn’t have anything left to photograph!

©front hoof impression
Here’s the one I ended up picking. It looks like something you’d see on the moon’s surface. What you’re looking at is an impression, but if you look at it long enough it almost looks raised.  Why the big copyright across the image? Find out here

I regrouped – and then tried just making an impression of his hoof while I held it off the ground. That worked much better – and I was able to make corresponding front and hind versions.

Then I was able take the imprinted blobs elsewhere – where I could manipulate the angle/direction/strength of the light – and get that elusive perfect HoofPrint photograph to use for reference for the embroidery design.

©Jack trotting
27 year old Hackney Pony Jack has Cushing’s Disease and is foundered. Apparently he didn’t get the memo; he hasn’t slowed a bit. Photo by Lauren Duncan

And of course when things went wrong (as in the Play-Doh squishing everywhere) it was quite a circus. I had to clean it all up (without losing any) and start over. To complicate matters, Jack the HoofPrint donor pony, is a Hackney. Hackney Ponies are not your typical ponies that like to plod around, eat grass and occasionally open the gate latch; they’re bred to be fine harness ponies – he’s a miniature Saddlebred – with all the snort and blow, only in a smaller package. Nearly 25 years ago, he was one of those “great deals” that my farrier husband brought home – a pretty little thing who couldn’t cut it in the show ring so they wanted to rehome him quietly and have him disappear so the stable’s breeding/training program wasn’t connected to a non-winner.

©Jack Trotting Away
“What do you have in your hand? You’re going to do WHAT with it? I’m outta here!” Photo by Lauren Duncan

I suspect that the training methods used to get those ponies to step high and look sharp are a little dramatic, and Jack has “flashbacks” sometimes. His eyes get big and he prepares to “launch” when confronted with anything scary.

However, his small size made him the choice over my other horse – whose bigger foot would require more Play-Doh than I had on hand. Approaching a bug-eyed pony with a large piece of cardboard, covered with a big blob of brownish ??? took quite a bit of finesse and negotiation. Convincing him to hold still with his foot up so I could carefully press a the blob to his foot took some doing, but I managed to pull it off.

©hoof contact sheet
Here are some of the Play-Doh hoof impression photos. As you can see, the angle and intensity of the light made a big difference in how they looked.

At some point during the project, things got boring enough that my son went on to other things and I was able to concentrate on getting that elusive perfect HoofPrint impression to photograph. Once that was done it was relatively easy to morph it into artwork that I ended up using on a variety of projects.

©hind hoof contact sheet
By the time I got to the hind hoofprint I knew a little more about which lighting worked best.
TSWHLH w-tag
The finished logo embroidered on a sweatshirt. It’s also in the background of the business card

Why is there a copyright © on all these pictures? Read about that here

Wanna know more about my other horses?

Allie (Allarista) is here , Billy is here, Rocky is here


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