carving "Thunderbolt" #4: finishing muscle groups and starting the saddle

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Blog entry by mpounders posted 01-24-2011 07:38 AM 1305 reads 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 3: Feets Finished! Part 4 of carving "Thunderbolt" series Part 5: saddle completed and starting to get a head »

He’s starting to look like a horse now, with the muscle groups indicated. I spent quite a bit of time getting the spacing better between the legs and defining the groups of muscles around the legs. A technique I like is to carve the lines and then to sand them so that you get a flowing muscle look instead of something defined by a line cut into the surface. I like to use my veiners for this and then carve or sand the edges back up to the center. Here are a few pictures.

When carving different things, it is sometimes helpful to have a model or something to “go by” as an example. I sometimes do clay or other types of models to work out my designs and I metioned before about researching and gathering pictures. But it can also be helpful to have a 3 dimensional example. I have a small plastic horse that I have used before in other carvings, just a toy, but with enough realistic features to really be quite helpful. You can find quite realistic toys of all sorts of animals that can be very helpful in carving.

When I completed the muscles, I started blocking out the saddle. It is very important to my design to have movement in the legs of the rider, so it is more critical to get him seated properly before working much on the saddle. You will not really see many details of the saddle when he is riding and I probably won’t even carve stirrups. Real bronc busters don’t use stirrups! I had to carve quite a bit away on the sides to get his legs to swinging. You can see the dowel in the picture above that will attach him to the saddle. Here is a picture of how he is sitting so far.

Now that I have him sitting properly, I can finish the saddle and blankets and such, before worrying about attaching the head. Thanks for looking!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

6 comments so far

View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4132 days

#1 posted 01-24-2011 08:28 AM

Excellent job defining the muscle groups! Having grown up around horses I know what you are talking about.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View TJ65's profile


1378 posts in 3104 days

#2 posted 01-24-2011 10:34 AM

A headless horse – now thats a story line for a horror movie!!! :-)
In all seriousness he is really starting to take shape, I like his rump- a sign of a good horse!!

-- Theresa,

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 3862 days

#3 posted 01-24-2011 04:03 PM

I have been watching your progress with a great deal of envy! I also viewed your picasa site – fantastic work! Question: Do you carve eagles? Look at the prices commanded by eagle carvers and maybe you’ll shift over. You certainly have that level of talent.

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4460 days

#4 posted 01-24-2011 04:08 PM

looking great, very nice details and charm

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View mpounders's profile


877 posts in 2950 days

#5 posted 01-24-2011 05:35 PM

Thanks all! I have very little experience with horses, so I really do appreciate the compliments and encouragement from those with more exposure. My wife grew up with horses and her father was a veterinarian at a race track, but that doesn’t seem to help me sometimes!! For me, birds are even more complex! I have completed one song bird and plan to do another, but I am somewhat intimidated by them still. I would love to do an eagle, but I might try just the head first and work my way up to it! Thanks Mark, and thanks also for the work you have sent my way. It is good to hear that you are keeping busy!

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View mtnwild's profile


3474 posts in 3582 days

#6 posted 01-24-2011 07:30 PM

Looking great so far. That’s going to be one fun toy…............

Cool to watch you make it, thanks…................

With your ability, the only limiting factor would be your desire to carve a subject, your motivation.

-- mtnwild (Jack), It's not what you see, it's how you see it.

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