How does one create a likeable horse?

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junius
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How does one create a likeable horse?

#1 Post by junius » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:03 pm

The protagonist of my story is a female android birthday clown. She's supposed to be friends with the horse that she brings to parties, yet I don't know how to make the horse feel like a believeable friend. I've never interacted with a horse. Does anyone have advice or sample narratives of a horse as a friend?

My main problem is that I have all of the characters around the horse doing something, but I don't know what actions or reactions the horse should have. How does a horse display affection towords its owner? How does it display discomfort if the situation isn't a comfortable one to be it? How does a horse show that it enjoys being brushed or groomed? How does a horse tell its owner that it's hungry? How does a horse show that it appreciates being feed? I want the horse to take part in the action instead of just standing there.

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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#2 Post by Duskylli » Wed Oct 15, 2014 12:45 pm

Maybe you could draw inspiration from the Disney movies Tangled and Frozen (Frozen had a deer but close enough). The animals in both films were loyal to their companions and had exaggerated expressions and poses to express their emotions. If you haven't seen the films just do a quick search for video clips.

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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#3 Post by trooper6 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:10 pm

There are lots of classic horse books/films you could look to:
My Friend Flicka
National Velvet
War Horse
The Neverending Story
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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#4 Post by Laiska » Wed Oct 15, 2014 1:27 pm

trooper6 wrote:The Neverending Story
I rewatched the movie of this recently, and found I didn't actually care about Artax one bit. I even laughed at the swamp thing... (Funny what 15+ years can do for you.)

On topic, my first thought is that if the girl is an android, the horse could be one too, then they could actually communicate (with language). Other than that, I would look up some resources of horse behavior. As for making the horse likeable, because you're working in a static and not animated medium (assuming you're making a VN), you'll have to decide if you want to create more expressions, and how cartoonish you want them to be; the more cartoony the easier to show human emotion and relate. If you're working with a pure narrative, show the horse as reacting in a favorable way to things the protagonist says or does, and doing things like comforting her if she's hurt / feeling down. Little things like having the horse nudge her shoulder if she's sitting and crying could go a long way.

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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#5 Post by anon2045 » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:17 pm

I agree with Laiska, the tools you use to make the horse come to life depends on how realistic or how cartoony you want it to be.

My favorite animated horses are the ones with snarky expressions and gestures-- like Khan, the black horse from Mulan, and Maximus from Tangled. I also liked Donkey from Shrek (I think he was given a horse form in one of the movies?) All of these fall on the more expressive and cartoony in the spectrum.

An example of a realistic looking horse that was particularly memorable and likable to me was actually found in a Thor fanfiction. [[The link is provided here.]] Note that the pairing in this is BXB, but there's nothing explicit. There's hrose grooming, horse feeding, and the author seems knowledgeable in taking care of horses (it shows in the way he describes the horse). Sleipnir, the horse in question, is a majestic-looking stallion whose supremely intelligent (in a realistic way) and a bit haughty and prideful because he's the horse of the King of Realm Eternal, ruler of Asgard. Oddly enough, an animated example of realistic horses is the black horses (called nightmares) in Rise of the Guardians, since they don't talk and aren't particularly cartoony in their expressions. Still lots of their emotions and personality comes through in the animation. The way they toss their mane (like how a girl would toss her hair when haughty), the way they snort, and the way they walk (sometimes prancing sometimes a more determined run).

I think it will help you a bit to think of horses a bit like cats and dogs. They all have different personalities and they all react in different ways at being groomed/fed/etc (and this might even vary further by the situation).

Still in an attempt to answer your questions, I wrote some answers below (some of these I know by movies and fiction so take like a grain of salt):
How does a horse display affection towards its owner?
Head bumps, allowing the owner to ride him (esp. if it allows no one else to ride him), , acting as a shield or a barrier when it thinks the owner is about to be hurt, allowing the owner to groom/feed/etc to it when it would allow no one else to do so.
How does it display discomfort if the situation isn't a comfortable one to be it?
Horses don't growl like dogs, but they do grind their teeth, snort heavily, toss their heads, and use their hooves to stamp the ground. They might run in circles (pace) while stamping the ground.
I want the horse to take part in the action instead of just standing there.
Think of the horse like a character just like everybody else. Keep in mind where he is and what he is doing. He might go in the background a bit when he's eating and the protagonist is talking with someone else. But if they begin to yell, he might look over and begin to interact with them. Perhaps he hates loud noises and is terrified of them and suddenly one of the character's turn on the radio very loudly--the horse might panic. Keeping in mind their general personality, their fears, their like and dislikes, and amplifying that with some nonfictional authentic facts about horses can make your horse character feel more real and therefore come to life for the reader.

A simple google search, for example, brought this up: https://www.google.com/search?q=horse+b ... 3&ie=UTF-8

Horses seem to have a body language just like dogs. I suspect that looking up some care manuals on how to take care of horses may reveal a lot of answers you are looking for. Keep in mind, research can be a good brainstorm fuel too, not just a fact-checker. It can provide ideas on what to do.

I hope this helps. Sorry this was long.

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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#6 Post by junius » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:24 pm

Thanks for all of the replies, everyone. I'll try to put them to good use.

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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#7 Post by sasquatchii » Thu Oct 16, 2014 9:23 pm

Watch youtube videos of horse enthusiasts interacting with their horses. They're kind of like dogs, but bigger. They've all got individual personalities. Some are intelligent, others aren't so bright. There are horses that are sweet and gentle, and there are devils that will bite you just because they're cranky. There's a reason why so many people adore them and keep them, even though we've got cars and modern technology to take us places.

Even better than watching them on youtube and looking them up online- go somewhere with actual horses, if you can, to do some research and really get a feel for what they're like.

There are tons of ways to make characters likeable, and you can even apply them to non-humans. Maybe the horse is an absolute trouble maker and kind of an ass (pun intended) but he's really good at one thing, so we admire him for it. Maybe he's funny/comic relief and he makes us laugh (humor is the easiest way to make a character likeable, in my opinion). Or maybe he's just really sweet and affectionate towards his android girl, and loyal as a dog. Whatever you decide, there's no right or wrong way to make a character likeable. Good luck :)
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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#8 Post by OokamiKasumi » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:13 pm

I you really want to know how horses actually think, and the body language they use to express it, a very good book to read is:

The Man Who Listens to Horses, about Monty Roberts.
-- http://www.montyroberts.com/shop/books/ ... to-horses/

Mr. Robert's site is also highly informative:
-- http://www.montyroberts.com

This is the man that the book "The Horse Whisperer" was based on.
-- Don't waste your time watching the movie made from this book because it was changed into a frikken (waste of time) romance.
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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#9 Post by junius » Mon Oct 20, 2014 9:52 pm

OokamiKasumi wrote:I you really want to know how horses actually think, and the body language they use to express it, a very good book to read is:

The Man Who Listens to Horses, about Monty Roberts.
-- http://www.montyroberts.com/shop/books/ ... to-horses/

Mr. Robert's site is also highly informative:
-- http://www.montyroberts.com

This is the man that the book "The Horse Whisperer" was based on.
-- Don't waste your time watching the movie made from this book because it was changed into a frikken (waste of time) romance.
Thanks for the information. I purchased a copy of The Man Who Listens to Horses for my tablet.

BTW, I love your blog.

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Re: How does one create a likeable horse?

#10 Post by OokamiKasumi » Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:59 pm

junius wrote:
OokamiKasumi wrote:I you really want to know how horses actually think, and the body language they use to express it, a very good book to read is:
The Man Who Listens to Horses, about Monty Roberts.
-- http://www.montyroberts.com/shop/books/ ... to-horses/
Thanks for the information. I purchased a copy of The Man Who Listens to Horses for my tablet.

BTW, I love your blog.
I really enjoyed "The Man who Listens to Horses". I found it extremely informative on equine body language and why horses react the way they do.

I'm really glad you like my blog, I hope you find it helpful.
Ookami Kasumi ~ Purveyor of fine Smut.
Most recent Games Completed: For ALL my completed games visit: DarkErotica Games

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