Of Course a Horse!

Lesson Plan


Using visual observation, illustrations, and words, students compare and contrast two horse art objects, the Han dynasty Horse and Frederic Remington’s The Cheyenne.

Intended Age Group

Early childhood (ages 3-5)

Length of Lesson

One 25 minute lesson

Standards Area

Language Arts


Students will be able to:

  • communicate their thoughts and visual observations about the two art objects;
  • interact with their peers when listening to others and talking about the art objects;
  • work on the pronunciation and spelling of the word “horse;” and
  • explain their illustration of a horse.


  1. First, introduce the Han dynasty Horse and Frederic Remington’s The Cheyenne. Bring attention to how the artists made these objects and reference points of interest from the About the Art sections.
  2. Prompt children to use their visual observation skills and share what they see. Ask students the following questions: Do you have an idea of the materials used to make the objects? Do the objects look like real horses? Can you describe what the horses are doing?
  3. While looking at the art objects also refer to images of real horses. Point to the word “horse” often and spell it a few times. Encourage the class to follow along as you say and spell “horse.”
  4. Explain that together students will develop a list of words that describe things that are the same about each horse. Write these words or phrases on the board. Review the list once it is complete.
  5. Challenge children to make a list of all the differences they can find. Again, write this on the board and review.
  6. Have children illustrate their version of a horse. Refer to the two art objects and the other horse images. Encourage children to think about how they are going to draw their horse by referring to the similarities and differences they found when looking at the two art objects.
  7. Once they have completed their horse drawing, have them write the word “horse” by following along as you slowly spell and point to each letter.
  8. Review some of the words in the similarities/differences lists and ask students to pick one or two favorite words from the list to copy onto their illustration.


  • Whiteboard and markers
  • Images of horses to be passed around or posted in the classroom
  • Enlarged word “horse” to be posted on the board during the lesson
  • Pointer tool
  • Paper and pencil for horse illustration
  • About the Art sections on the Han dynasty Horse and Frederic Remington’s The Cheyenne
  • One color copy of the Han dynasty Horse and one color copy of Frederic Remington’s The Cheyenne for every four students, or the ability to project the images onto a wall or screen


CO Standards

  • Visual Arts
    • Invent and Discover to Create
    • Observe and Learn to Comprehend
  • Language Arts
    • Oral Expression and Listening
    • Writing and Composition
    • Reading for All Purposes

21st Century Skills

  • Collaboration
  • Critical Thinking & Reasoning
  • Information Literacy
  • Invention
  • Self-Direction

About the Art

The Cheyenne

The Cheyenne


Frederic Remington

Roman Bronze Works

Who Made It?

Frederic Remington was born in Canton, New York, and attended the Yale School of Art, where he studied drawing and played football. When he was twenty years old, he traveled west for a vacation and mailed a rough sketch to Harper’s Weekly magazine, kicking off his career as an illustrator. He had tried his hand at sheep ranching in Kansas, but after a couple of years returned to New York, making trips west from his home in the East. Most of his work was created in his studio in New Rochelle, New York. Remington’s artistic career began with painting and drawing, but a friend encouraged him to try his hand at sculpture in 1895. He made 24 sculptures in his last 14 years as an artist. Remington liked the permanence of bronze sculpture: “My water colors will fade—but I am to endure in bronze,” he said. He died at age 48 at the height of his career.

What Inspired It?

Remington felt compelled to record an American West that he believed to be disappearing. He loved to portray the action and energy of the West and did not feel confined by what were considered the limits of the bronze medium. In this sculpture, Remington has defied the traditional means of supporting sculpture, making the falling robe a part of the action. The horse and rider are full of energy and appear to be moving quickly. Remington often worked from photographs to achieve this authentic image of motion. To create this bronze sculpture, Remington used a method called lost wax casting. A “cast” is a form that is created by pouring liquid metal into a mold. Although it is over 6000 years old, the lost wax method had been newly introduced in the United States during Remington’s time. The process involves six different steps—during each step a new model of the sculpture is made. Lost wax casting allows the artist to make quick changes and fine-tune the wax model before each pour. Remington took advantage of this opportunity for experimentation, and often visited the foundry that produced his casts at this stage. His additional artistic input is evident in the Denver Art Museum’s sculpture, especially in the textures and color of the piece.


Different Textures
Different Textures

Compare the smooth skin of the Indian to the rippled musculature of the horse’s flank to the high relief texture of the buffalo robe. This sculpture shows the texture variation that was possible using the lost wax method, and it is evidence that this cast received a great deal of personal attention from the artist.


The golden honey color of this particular cast is much lighter than other casts of The Cheyenne, which may be evidence that Remington himself was involved in selecting it. He usually preferred a blue-black patina, so this was probably an experiment.

Four Hooves Off the Ground
Four Hooves Off the Ground

In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge’s (MY-bridge) photos of racehorses in motion proved that all four hooves leave the ground at one time. Wanting to show this in bronze, Remington added a buffalo robe falling toward the ground as a support for the flying horse.

Accurate Leg Position
Accurate Leg Position

Muybridge’s photos also revealed another misconception: in their off-the-ground position, the horse's legs were bunched together under the belly, rather than in the “hobbyhorse attitude,” with front legs stretched forward and hind legs backward, which was traditional in painting. In using this pose for The Cheyenne, Remington was one of the first artists to take advantage of this new information.

Mane & Tail
Mane & Tail

The horse’s mane and tail add to the sculpture’s sense of motion—they appear to be blown back by the wind.

The Artist’s Signature
The Artist’s Signature

Remington’s signature changes location from cast to cast. On ours, it appears on the base.

Funding for lesson plans provided by a grant from the Morgridge Family Foundation. Additional funding provided by the William Randolph Hearst Endowment for Education Programs, and Xcel Energy Foundation. We thank our colleagues at the University of Denver Morgridge College of Education.