Equine Sculpture by Mel Miller

Finishing Touches

Before you start with your finishing touches, make sure the horse has been sprayed with sealer first! The polishes can smear paint not already protected, and the tools you use for fitting shoes could scratch the finish.

For eyes that look bright and shiny, use clear gloss varnish. In the past most artists used clear nail polish, and this will work. However, it is very thick and can cause problems if the horse is repainted sometime in the future, and sometimes doesn't look right at all in the first place. Use a small round brush to carefully fill in the eye with a thin layer of gloss coat and repeat as necessary to get the desired coating. You can also use the clear gloss to shine up blackened hooves or natural colored hooves that have had show gloss added. For a nice healthy looking nose, you can also dab a small bit of polish deep inside the nostril. Keep in mind that unless a horse has a runny nose most of the nostril is not wet; just the very inside pink area. For the look of naturally burnished hooves (and for some level of protection), you can apply satin varnish. Mixing matte and satin varnish together can make a nice coating for a slightly glossier mand and tail assuming your horse is sealed with a very matte sealer such as DullCote.

If you wish to add shoes, size each one up to the hoof and cut the ends off. I like to round the back edges with a file instead of just cutting them straight off. If you look at real horse shoes, there are no sharp edges (thank goodness!). To put the shoes on, draw a thin line of super glue around the rim of the hoof where the shoe will attach. Then, place the shoe on the hoof; try to line it up as accurately as you can before actually pressing down. Watch that you don't glue yourself to the hoof, or you might tear some paint off! If the horse doesn't have blackened hooves, you should put little greyish-silver dots where the nails would be. (Reference pictures can be a huge help here.) Although horse shoes have four slots for nails on each side, farriers only use the smallest number of nails they need to keep the shoe on. Shoes are generally held on by three nails on each side; two on each side for foals. If the hoof has been blackened, you should also blacken the outside rim of the shoe. Do not add the nail detail as the nail clinches will be covered by the hoof blackener.

Materials Checklist