When I decided to start the research into horses in animation, I thought that the best approach would be to see what books and research papers are available on the topic. Having in mind that horses are such an integral part of many animation films from the late 1920s (Horace Horsecollar debut in The Plow Boy (1929)), be it as background characters (e.g. two mares in Once Upon a Wintertime in Melody Time (1948)) or even as main protagonists (e.g. Spirit in Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron (2002)), I was surprised that I could not find any published books or academic thesis on the equine characters in animation. After further investigation I was able to find other kinds of resources that I should be able to use in my research, though it is obvious that this topic lacks large scale research and further analysis.
To overcome the issue of lacking academic material and books on horses in animation, I decided to search for alternative research material. I presumed that since I am unable to find resources exclusively on horses, I should look into books and other material that could possibly feature horses among other characters of an animated film. Based on my past research, I remembered that some of the best ways to get insight into character creation process and well as different stages of production of animated films are through “The Art of” books and videos on making of different animation films. Though this makes information on horse characters rather limited, as these resources focus on entire film creation, and gathering information from parts of book or video that apply to the topic requires time and dedication, it will still allow me to get an understand of character design decisions and creation process which will contribute to more in-depth knowledge than what I would be able to get from just watching the character on screen. Furthermore, this way I will be able to gather information on a variety of equine characters which will hopefully make my research more thorough.
The resources that I am currently investigating include A Brief History of the Animated Horse by Gregory Singer in Animation World Network (which was very useful as a quick overview of a number of different horses in animation), videos and articles on Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron and a few articles on Horace Horsecollar in Disney shorts. Furthermore, I am going to borrow “The Art of Dreamworks Animation”, “The Art of Disney Pixar Brave”, “The Art of Tangled” and “The Art of Frozen” from the university library as all these books focus on films featuring horses as animation characters.