Wednesday, May 4, 2022

"He Won Her Back:" Morgan Horse Art by Hildred Goodwine


    I very much enjoyed being a part of the April 2022 Equine History Conference, which was put on by the Equine History Collective. The theme of this year's Conference was "All Creatures Great and Small," and the papers presented dealt with how other species -- humans, other animals, microorganisms -- affect the lives of horses and other equids, and vice versa.

    My presentation was called "The Horse is in the Mail: The Equine Art of H. Goodwine." It gave examples of the art of Hildred Goodwine Phillips (1918-1998), who signed her work "H. Goodwine."

Hildred Goodwine and her pickup truck hood ornament,
a metal replica of the Breyer Mustang

    In addition to painting many horse portraits for the owners of horses as well as public murals, Goodwine created well over 100 paintings that were used on greeting cards by companies such as Leanin' Tree, Western Arts, and Lazy BL Ranch.

    Goodwine was active during a period of time, the 1960s through 1990s, when horse greeting cards were widely available and quite popular. 

Greeting card design by Sam Savitt

Foal notecard by C. W. Anderson

Horse magazine ad for Christmas cards by C. W. Anderson

Stationery and notecard by Jeanne Mellin

Elizabeth Bell letterhead 

Greeting card design by Emilie Touraine

Greeting card design by Norman Thelwell

Greeting card designed by Wesley Dennis

Horse magazine ad for Christmas cards by Wesley Dennis

An assortment of greeting cards featuring Hildred Goodwine designs.

    One of Goodwine's works I featured in my presentation, is now in my own collection. It shows the enduring relationship between a girl and her horse; it's called “He Won Her Back.” The little horse in the painting is a Morgan named "Justin."

    (In case anyone is not familiar with the story, the horse associated with the establishment of the Morgan horse breed in the United States was popularly known as “Justin Morgan.”)

    In this painting, Goodwine shows us that our relationships with horses sometimes last longer than our relationships with other humans, perhaps particularly when we are young. It's one of countless examples of equine art and storytelling that show the special bond between girls and their horses.

    The original owner of the painting, my dear friend Linda Myron, wrote about the context of the painting, which she purchased during a visit to the Goodwine studio near Wickenburg, Arizona, in the late 1970s or very early 1980s:

“This is a 20x24” oil painting of a Morgan Horse who is looking mighty proud of himself. On the barn wall behind him are his owner’s name [Sara] and the name “Justin” inside a heart.


“Then ‘Justin’ is crossed out, and a boy’s name [Billy] is written in; then the boy’s name is crossed out and Justin’s name is once again there. This was one of a series -- of three, I believe – of paintings, two of which were very unhappy looking horses with their names crossed out and replaced by boys’ names. Justin was the one who won his girl back…. Original cost was $500.”

     Linda continued:“[This} was my first ‘Hildred’ painting. Morgans are my favorite breed, and I just had to have this when I saw it. Hildred wasn’t very pleased with this painting and tried to talk me into taking something else, showing me other paintings of horses that looked like Morgans. But I liked this cocky little guy and have never regretted choosing him. I ordered a special frame for him, and he has hung on my wall ever since.”


    Remembering Goodwine in the introduction to The Happy Horses of H. Goodwine by Barbara Robinson, Ed P. Trumble, Founder and former Chairman of Leanin’ Tree Inc., summarized her career:

 “Few artists have brought forth the soul of the horse in the inimitable manner of Hildred Goodwine.  Her paintings…of various animals have delighted her viewers for over forty years, but her unique depiction of the horse with variations of breed, color, and genus is what earned her a fond reputation among the multitudes that have seen her work.”

I'm grateful that Linda wrote down her memories of Hildred, and grateful to her family members who allowed me to inherit this wonderful original painting when Linda passed away in October 2020.

    Hildred Goodwine was also a model horse collector. Although she was not active in the hobby, she did participate by being one of the judges at a ValSun live model horse show in Phoenix in 1979.  Here's a blog post I wrote that discusses her art and her 800-piece model horse collection:

    I always learn so much at the annual Equine History Conference from historians and public scholars from around the world .If you'd like more information on the Equine History Collective, which sponsors many activities in addition to its annual Conference, here's a link to the website: