buckskin and blue roan

blue buckskin

There are two types of horses in the GQ books: working horses that pull the Blackwells’ carriages, and recreational horses, most of which see little use. The horses that get the most exercise are Henry’s Marigold and Martin’s Partita.

The Blackwells keep their horses in a stable several blocks from their home, which was the custom at the time–there were whole neighborhoods of stables smelling of horseshit, which rich people understandably wanted at some distance from their grand residences. Henry and Martin walk the few blocks to the stables whenever they want to ride.

Just to give you an idea of how RL rich people housed their horses, this is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s stable, built in 1880. This photo was apparently taken in 1916, after the family had converted the stable to a nightclub (!!!), the era of horse-drawn anything being well past for the likes of the Vanderbilts.

vanderbilt stables

I don’t see Mr. Blackwell wanting anything quite so decorated, actually, but I do imagine the Blackwell stables being fairly grand nonetheless.

But on to the horse visuals :)

Henry’s Marigold is a buckskin mare. He chose her in part because Captain Theo Drake, the hero of his favorite serialized story, rides a buckskin horse.

Here are some examples of buckskin horses:

buckskin collage

Buckskin is, as you can see, a sandy yellow or yellowish-tan with dark points, mane and tail. The Marigold in my head looks most like the middle horse, except without white feet.

Marigold is not typical of horses seen in Central Park. Buckskin horses aren’t rare, but they aren’t common, either, and Henry can’t recall ever seeing another on the bridle path.

Henry’s best friend Louis doesn’t like horses and doesn’t ride, so Henry didn’t have anyone to ride with before Martin’s arrival. When it came time to choose a horse for Martin, Henry wanted him to have something as special as he was, and was delighted when Martin selected his blue roan mare, Partita.

This is what blue roan looks like:

blue roan collage

Blue roan is just an even mix of black and white hairs with perhaps a bluish cast, but you also see some interesting gradations of color where the black hairs fade reddish in the sun. Roans typically have solid color heads and points. There are various ways that a blue roan differs from a grey horse, for instance, and if you’re really curious you can find some information here.

Blue roan isn’t rare, either, but it’s not common. Again, they’re not seeing a lot of blue roan horses when they go riding in the park.

In the GQ books, most people buy serviceable, undistinguished bay horses for their companions. Generic horses, basically. Partita is a particularly good horse, a master’s horse, and it’s definitely peculiar that she was purchased for Martin, though Henry doesn’t realize this until it is pointed out to him. Henry is taken aback when an annoying young man he meets on the bridle path suggests that Marigold and Partita are showy horses; Henry prefers to think of them as special, not showy.

The Blackwells are always doing things wrong :D

Really, if it were possible, Henry would put Martin on the back of a unicorn, because he does indeed think Martin is just that awesome, but he settled for giving him a pretty horse.