The horse looks elegant as it pokes out a leg. The creature looks healthy and strong, and most likely was on the family estate of the Toulouse-Lautrec's. Henri would create portraits of many animals around his family's home, particularly in the early part of his career whilst still a teenager. It was only later that other, less wholesome, content started to appear in his work once he spent time in the Parisien nightlife. Alongside the horse is a light study of a human in different profiles. The main focal point is given strong contrasts, with some parts of the horse receiving strong definition where lines have been used over each other several times. The artwork is known to have been in a private collection, perhaps one of several, since it was first completed but not much information is available on its passage of ownership since first being completed in the late 19th century.
Toulouse-Lautrec loved horses as a youngster and often saw his father out riding, wishing he was able to do the same. Perhaps drawing them accurately was the closest that he could get to impressing his father, because of the considerable physical problems that he experienced throughout his life. The nature of the aristocracy perhaps explains his problems, when considering how cousins might be encouraged to marry at that time. Either way, he was never able to ride with strength and aggression like his father, but did what he could to depict these stunning creatures within drawings, with paintings also following on in later years.
This was an artist who worked prolifically, leaving behind a large oeuvre, even though his life was relatively short. He experienced health problems, both physically and mentally and these led to over drinking that eventually caught up with him. However, he was still able to leave behind over one thousands different artworks, with some of the most famous titles including the likes of In Bed (The Kiss), In the Salon of Rue des Moulins and Fernando the Rider, at the Circus. He can be considered one of the most famous and influential artists of the 19th century and helped to bring about graphic design through the style of his particularly impressive posters. He was on the one hand lucky with his upbringing, and the family that he came from, but also his physical problems were a great problem to him throughout his life.