Horses are art in motion. When still they are the calm and peace of the world. When they run, it’s with invisible wings. When they trot, it’s as if each step springs them into heaven. Few things in nature compare to the beauty of the horse.
How many a child has felt the call of the wild horse who responds only to them? How many feel they could win any kind of battle when astride a horse? How many dream of the moment that they and the horse become one with the same zeal as many dream of a championship?
Many, I know. They inspire and empower us. And most of all they instruct us: listen, watch, become one with them and their gentle calm or their wild nature or their joyous run.
From the shy autistic child to the recovering drug addict to the soldier with post traumatic stress, the horse has stepped up time and again to aid in their healing. Their beauty alone is a balm to our hearts. To brush one soothes us. To befriend one is to have a stalwart companion through the worst of times. And to ride one is to gain a glimpse of heaven.
Those who cast aside the horse as a mere ‘animal’, an object to dispose of as they will without regard for it’s nature are diminishing humanity as well as the horse. We need them now. We always have. We need the reminder that to tame all of nature means to lose some of it’s beauty. To cast aside a companion who has stood by someone through all is to toss away a piece of one’s existence that was as important to them as a limb.
We need the horse. We need the horse even more than the horse needs us. For the things you would trade it for: wealth, land, money or power, don’t last forever. But friendship, hope, faith and courage do. They must.
In this last video, the situation between those who under rate horses is largely summed up with : :The heart of the problem is there is no value put on wildness.” Or, I would add, on beauty. Or anything that truly matters. Far too many would sell it out, destroy it for money. But the inspiration that is the horse is worth far more.
It is amazing how somethings never change. Tales of cunning, greed and even politics somehow seem as ageless of tales of heroism.
This is one I’ve found, which has the virtue of being miraculously well done in spite of it’s age. Before CGI or modern film techniques, The Tale of the Fox look many years to create. It’s been uploaded in 6 parts onto Youtube, complete with subtitles as it’s originally in French. Most of it, you can figure out without any words at all.
The fox is a con artist and all suffer under his tricks. What’s more, they suffer because he knows their weaknesses and plays off them. The lion is King (of course) and must figure out what to do about this trickster who is causing such a ruckus. His solution left me slack jawed with shock.
So watch the videos and see if you can figure out what will become of the fox. What will the king do? Who will best him?
In the end, I felt blindsided by a commentary of how politics work, whether in a company or a government.
Beware your weakness…for the fox will prey on it, even if you are a Lion or a King.
The Tale of the Fox – Wladyslaw Starewicz (1930) was uploaded by MissBillieDove
Well, here it is. The summation of much of the world’s woes, as once again, revealed through the horse world. The fox guarding the chickens. The corrupt judge sitting over his son’s trial. The blind man driving the automobile (no offense to the blind intended, the way technology is headed, it’s only a matter of time).
The first is that the BLM went back on it’s word and went ahead with a mustang roundup they’d promised and sworn was cancelled. Color me shocked. A branch of the government, lie to it’s citizens? Of course they would. What bothers me is that no other branch of the government seems interested in holding them accountable. You have perjury and animal cruelty in one fell swoop, yet no one ever arrests them. What does it say about our government, that it is no longer being held accountable to it’s citizens for such misuse of funds and power?
The second is this bit of news of the confusion over slaughterhouses. Now the Native nations – and for the moment, I won’t try and sort out which ones – are apparently divided, with some in favor of it. Some still believe the horse is sacred and are firmly opposed. But the others claim ‘overpopulation’ and ‘overgrazing’ and insist that slaughter would solve their problems.
I can’t help note that if so, they should be trying to get the slaughter plant, with its associated environmental hazards on their own reservation land. Apparently they don’t mind foisting it off on someone else. They don’t seem to be vying for the jobs associated, they just want the horses gone.
I don’t claim to know what the ratio of horses to other livestock is on the Native reservations is, or whether they have a problem. I do know slaughter isn’t the answer. But it’s a sad thing to think that people some of whom have been called ‘people of the horse’, and for some of them, still think it sacred, would consider this an acceptable solution. What is it about today’s society that people are so ignorant and determined to remain so in the name of greed and convenience?
Third, is the trial of the Tennessee Walking Horse trainer. Now what makes me shake my head at this is on the Ethics committee of the Tennessee Walking Horse Trainer’s Association. Ethics. Oh, really, ethics. The man thought nothing of soring and intentionally injuring these animals for a ribbon, prize money, or trophy. I can’t imagine why anyone would reward anyone for cruelty. But the idea of the man being on an ethics committee!! It’s incomprehensible. Talk about the blind leading the blind!
I had a first hand encounter with the world where people and animals blur. I hit a bear and a bear hit me. No, it wasn’t a boxing match. It was a jay running bear rushing across the road. No slamming on of the brakes would prevent the collision. The bear cartwheeled impressively as a gymnast over the hood and into the woods.
I pulled to the side and cautiously got out and stared at my car, wincing. Badly bent, my Neon now had a front end like a Volkswagon bug. My headlight was gone, even the bulb. I went back to the back bumper and peered back toward the woods. No movement, no body, and a sense of self preservation said don’t look too close. If it’s alive, it’s upset. The following drivers checked to see if I was okay and I carefully climbed back in the car and drove on to work.
Once well clear of ‘possible upset bear’ zone, I got to work, pulled in the parking lot, popped the hood…and winced as my fingers hit slime. Leaking. Opened hood. Crack. Bent radiator. Old car. I’m….in….trouble…..don’t have money for this. No car, no get to work… Might be totaled… had to be towed home.
I still remind myself the bear was probably hurt worse. Either that or it was made of rubber. And I do feel bad.
I wish there was a way to teach wild animals to look both ways before crossing the road.
It can be kind of discouraging to see so many bad reports in the news about police officers. To be fair, if all of the police were bad, then it would no longer be ‘news’. Therefore, it must not be the rule (I hope) but rather the exception. We have fifty states with heaven knows how many cities, towns and counties. Some are better than others. We need to say thanks more often for the good and heroic service as well as objecting to the abuses.
Nonetheless, when I see the reaction of their fellow officers, their chiefs, and the rumored ‘thin blue line’, I get concerned. An unchallenged poor code of conduct is unlikely to change. This should not be ‘us against them’. We are the citizens that pay the salaries of these people. Unchecked, the attitude may spread and grow. It may even get worse, as people go from military (fighting ‘America’s enemies) to police (fighting civilian bad guys) they may label the wrong people and apparently, forget they are still in the US and subject to our Constitution.
Here are the areas these bad apple cops are falling short (in no particular order):
Ignorance of Dogs
First off, I keep seeing dogs shot or attacked for just being dogs. This suggests an ignorance of both dog behavior and the law. Clearly they need some training in telling ‘attacking’ dog from ‘scared dog defending it’s turf’ and better ways to deal. Dogs are everywhere, one of our favorite two pets and it’s too easy to correct for this. Surely, a volunteer from an animal welfare group could come in and give a few tips?
Ignorance of Mental or Physical Illness
This is understandable, but not acceptable. Yes, there are lots of bad guys. But if in a crisis, the guy or gal who refuses orders might be mentally ill and literally be incapable of answering. Good grief, what if they are not on drugs or alcohol, but are diabetic, having a stroke, or having a bad reaction to honestly prescribed medicine? When they are full of bullets, tasered, or even dead, ‘oops’ is not an acceptable answer! Even if the 99 people before fit the ‘addict’ label, number 100 could leave a dead or injured victim for all the wrong reasons.
That kid apparently staring at the police may be thinking anything, but that is not illegal. But they may also be autistic or something. Going tough guy on them will only aggravate the situation.
Ignorance of the Law.
This is kind of ironic, given that police are supposed to be law enforcers. How can they do that if they break it themselves? Sadly, dogs are considered property, not family members. Still, killing an animals is at least, ‘stealing’ it from the owner. You cannot replace it if you find you made a mistake. Therefore, you are now no better than the guy you were pursuing to that family.
Worse, things like attacking someone who you ‘suspect’ or demanding to use someone’s house as a base of operations and attacking him/her on refusal, mistreatment of prisoners and/or similar behavior is illegal. Period. No exceptions. As in, not ‘local’ illegal but ‘nationwide unconstitutional’.
Extreme Short Sightedness.
People call the police now for things previous generations would’ve just sent kids to the principle’s office or called their parents. A kid looks at the police a certain way and gets hassled for how they look at police. Then there is the officer that just opened fire and killed a bunch of kittens in front of little kids.
These all have one thing in common. They fail to take into account how the kids or people involved will feel about the police and react to them in the future. The police are supposed to deal with criminals, not discipline a kid, who hasn’t yet matured enough to outgrow some stuff. The guy that shot the cats could easily have insisted the little kids be taken elsewhere, or called for help moving them to a new location. (No, I don’t like that they were killed at all. But that’s really not the point.) The fact that he wasn’t even seen to try and find another solution has left an indelible memory on those little kids. Cop = animal murder. I don’t see them calling the cops when older, do you?
The question: why do we need petitions for this stuff, why don’t their fellow officers take a stand? I can hope they do without doing it publicly, but sometimes it needs to be public. After all, doesn’t the entire department suffer if a lawsuit is filed over it? Doesn’t the job of the other officers become harder, because those kids grow up fearing or hating cops?
It takes courage, and a lot of it, to stand up to peers. Someone, preferably one of their own, needs to remind them they are not gods, not always right and always have something to learn. Everyone does. Pinning on the badge is supposed to show you are going to be strong for those who need you. It’s not a sign that you are not an ‘official bully in power’. It’s a hard job, and if it’s thankless, sometimes it’s because the few make the rest look bad. And it certainly can’t be easy on families. Switching between ‘strong and in charge’ to ‘compassionate’ and avoiding falling into the gaping hole of being a bully can’t be easy. And I’m sure the best way to do it is for the police to check each other, rather than wait for public opinion to bash them over the head.
Cameras are even in phones and freedom of internet and press are part of our country. Those colleagues and in charge should remember this. Instead of throwing up a wall, they should encourage education. Got someone who doesn’t deal with dogs, who shot the pet? Enforce a leave involving some ‘dog’ education in animal behavior for alternatives to shooting. Got someone who has a furious parent because their autistic child was misconstrued as disobedient and got hurt? How about some education about that kind of illness. That way, we would see progress. I’m sure there are volunteers who would be happy to help. We’d only be calling for the heads of those who don’t care, who keep insisting on ignorant, bullying behavior, rather than the ones who made an honest but tragic mistake.
And for those who do stand up and do the right thing, for those who resist letting another officer get away with something that a regular citizen would be arrested for, Thank You!Thanks for saying no. We aren’t asking you to be a rat or a snitch. We are asking you to step in and stop that infection before it starts: give it an education and consider it another way to polish the badge.
The Bad Ones: (I won’t even try and list them all!)
There was a time when I believed the argument that it was better for the horse to be put down at slaughter then suffer neglect or abuse. Many still believe this.
But then facts struck me in the face. It’s evidence, not emotion, that rules on these issues, contrary to what the pro horse slaughter lobby claims. This is not just a bunch of bleeding heart horse lovers.
The reasons why American’s should ban horse slaughter are not just about caring about horses, it’s also in our own, best interest as well as the best interest of our neighbors.
Three prime reasons why American horse slaughter is dangerous to our welfare:
Our health: – between the hormones and the medicines equine athletes are given, American horse meat is unsafe for human consumption.
Our environment: – reports of communities near these plants include such horrible affects range from blood backing up the sewers to the smells of the plant cast offs contaminating the entire area.
Our ethics: – ‘humane’ means compassionate. And the word comes from human.
By denying the horse – or any other animal – a compassionate means to an end comes back and bites back by adding stress hormones to the meat, as well as possible virus and bacterial infections due to a stress weakened immune system.
By allowing the slaughter plant into the neighborhood, we are risking the safety of that neighborhood. Far from creating jobs, it will send quality jobs away because no-one wants their business in sight or smell of a slaughter plant.
Our economy: – In order to prevent cruel stress causing treatment during shipment and slaughter, we would have to fund inspections. We would have to enforce and prosecute those who use cruel transport and slaughter techniques to save a quick buck. We would have to be willing to pay for the clean up and enforce the environmental protection as well.
It may seem complicated or contradictory, but it does begin with ethics. Ethics about both our own food safety and our neighbors. Ethics about the right way to treat any living thing, even one destined for slaughter.
Why are horses NOT food animals: Due to their anatomy and high spirited nature, horses are not killed as easily as cows.Here is the process:
The Sale: Maybe it’s a retired racehorse or outgrown pony. But it’s not always in poor health to begin with. The buyers want meat, not skin and bones. Also it has to be in good health, at the very least not obviously sick. Slaughter plants don’t want obviously sick animals. However, they can’t tell at auction if the animal has been given medication.
The Feed Lot: The owner cares little for the animals health and the reports of treatment in these places is appalling.
The Transport: The horse is crammed into a truck with multiple other horses, if it resists it may be forcibly subdued and injured. Reports include mention of intentional maiming and use of electric cattle prods. They then face a horrible, pain filled journey to the plant.
Here is a big red flag.Due to European union guidelines, the slaughter plant isn’t going to just take obviously sick animals or those with no meat value. Some are actually TURNED BACK or TURNED LOOSE. To die on their own at the slaughter plant. This means the whole ‘overabundance of neglected, sick horses’ is moot. These are exactly the horses they don’t want.
At the slaughter plant: The stun bolt used on cows doesn’t work, often neither does the gun. In Mexico, sometimes they use a knife which only paralyzes, but does not render the horse unconscious.Meanwhile all the horses in line behind hear and smell the panic of the horses before them. This means that when killed you get the meat of a panicked, stressed out animal.
WARNING: GRAPHIC VIDEOS
Horses and Stress: Obviously all these facts add up to one load of meat filled with stress hormones. Stress also weakens the immune system, and makes it more susceptible to disease and infection.
Horses and Drugs
Horses are not considered food animals. Look in the medicine cabinet or trunk of you average horse barn and you’ll find proof. They are treated as athletes or companion animals.
The labels of bute and other medicines do warn against use in food animals. Bute is proven to cause liver failure and other issues when combined with standard house hold drugs in humans. This is only one medicine but I focus on this because it’s as common as aspirin.
In order to be assured the horse doesn’t have drugs in it’s system, you’d have to have a complete record of the horse’s life. You’d have to have drug testing done.
The Economy and Environment: Locally speaking, horse slaughter plants have been disastrous for the local economies. They leave a swath of environmental contamination behind them. No-one wants their town associated with a slaughter plant. It ruins the local tourist industry. Far from giving jobs to locals, they usually hire illegal immigrants and criminals. There are reports of the blood leaking into the sewage! Would you want this in your neighborhood? Let alone house?
And where exactly does horse meat go?
Americans in general do not eat horse meat. In some European countries it may be a delicacy. But even they don’t want our hormone and drug tainted horse meat. In fact, they are already embroiled in scandal as horse meat has found to have been illegally sold in place of beef in multiple countries and leading to recalls in such big companies as Nestle and Burger King. Everything from school lunches to prepackaged TV dinners has been affected.
Now considering the health risks, do we really want this in America? Why should we pay our tax money on USDA inspections for foreign investors and a few fat cats to slaughter horses and sell the drug laden meat to foreign criminals to pass off as beef?
It won’t stop animal neglect or cruelty. That involves the human heart. And it won’t get rid of the already sick or neglected. Even if it did, selling sick animals for meat is unconscionable.
We can’t afford it financially. We can’t afford it morally. You want less horses? Stop over breeding. But we are not going to find the solution in a slaughter plant.
Whether invading or defending, there was a time when the horse was critical for the fight. He could travel faster than the people on foot. He could deliver messages to groups in an army. He could intimidate the individual soldier by rearing up and lashing out. He could run pulling a chariot loaded with archers into the midst of conflict.
During medieval times, these magnificent chargers even had their own armor. They were priceless and not for casual use. Trained to do battle, they would leap and kick at enemy soldiers on command. Even today, you can see these maneuvers done in the Spanish Riding School of Vienna by the Lippizan horses. They maintain them as a matter of tradition and respect for the past.
In the old west, horses were used in battle and what was unquestionably a war with the natives already living there. They were also used in battles between tribes. In a land where justice was rough, horses were so valued you could be hung for stealing one.
The role of horses in war has gone now, except for show, ritual and memorial services. And in many ways, this is a good thing.
Many of us who have worked or ridden horses may wonder at the role of the horse in war. We remember horses that jump in fear at shadows and wonder how any horse could face an army. But a steady hand will often work wonders to a nervous mount.
And it’s worth noting that horses are warriors, for themselves, in nature. The Lippizans perform the ‘airs above the ground’ or battle leaps, even as foals. In the wild, stallions defend the herd from other stallions and predators.
In any event, horses have been involved in the course of all but the most recent battles and wars on earth. They have been a deciding factor in who lives and who dies. And there are few of our fellow creatures who have been so loyal at our sides.
Welcome to the first blog post on horses and what they meant to society. Yes, I said FIRST.
This is inspired by recent arguments regarding the question of horses and slaughter for food.
I’ve seen a fair number of people ask “What’s the difference between horses as meat and other animals?” I hope this series will help.
First up: Transportation
Long ago, somewhere so far back no-one can recall, someone discovered a horse was more than meat. They could carry or pull loads, or even people. A tribe, a clan or group of people living in harsh conditions and struggling to survive could do better than eating horses: they could use them to carry them to someplace better. Someplace where there was ample food and supplies for everyone.
Thanks to the horse, the ocean and highest mountains are the only limit. As long as you feed and water the horse, he will take you to where you can feed yourself. He can let you range further afield from your home and get back in a day with the results of your quest for food. He can take one further to trade for food or other supplies. He can carry messages to neighbors and kin who are further away.
Now we take it for granted. Most of us are used to having cars, buses, bikes, trains and planes to travel. We have phones and faxes and internet for messages. But it all began with the horse.
Of course, sometimes people still bumped into each other and challenged each other over who got the food. But the horse in war is another post. Stay tuned.
It’s an odd thing about culture that comparing someone to an animal is considered an insult to the human. I for one, would think it would be the other way round. They would likely be insulted to be compared to once. Politics is a prime example. For the donkey became associated with Democrats in part via Andrew Jackson being called a jackass. As for the elephant, combined with the aforementioned donkey incident, he joined a cartoon by Hurst where the elephant represented a terrified group of Republican voters. Neither animal was attached as a compliment to the party.
So the two main political parties are associated with an animal. The donkey with the Democrats, the elephant with the Republicans. Neither animal, for their part, should likely appreciate the association. Neither party (in general, for there are always exceptions) has put their mascot’s needs anywhere on there ‘things to do’ list.
Republicans (in general) tend to be associated with sport hunting and the like. I’ve seen numerous signs for this lately. Now when I think of killing an animal for sport, images of buffalo herds wiped out spring to mind. I don’t think disagree with killing animals for food, but I do have doubts about killing for sport. It seems dangerous – for ‘sport’ implies fun and killing should not be fun. Democrats (in general) don’t have any such obvious associations. However since their own mascot is the donkey, you’d think they would notice the cruelty inflicted by their own government on them. But no, nary a word is said..
How does this relate, you may wonder? Well, it’s not directly sport but sheer greed that kills animals, a desire to put human wants above nature’s needs. Ivory from their tusks gets them slaughtered and habitat reduction (big animal needs big habitat) reduces their numbers even more. The latter is, at least, understandable as a byproduct of sharing space with humans. As for the donkey, the wild version roams in several places. One of those is our National Parks. The response of the park service is to label these lovable creatures, such an undervalued and important bit of our history, vermin. In reality, they wipe them out to make room for the animals sport hunters prefer in order to lure them to the park. Also Republicans are associated with big cattle and mining lobbies. Is it a coincidence these are the ones who want the wild horses and burro (AKA donkey) off the Federal range land for their own cattle? Or that mining and alternative energies are also on this land and accessing them will affect the wild creatures – including wild born horse and burros – water supply.
Nor have either side (in general) remarked on the fact that the Wild Burro (AKA donkey) is also a protected species on Federal lands, and yet the very agency designed to protect them is rounding them up to extinction even faster than the wild mustangs. Have they done anything? Not a comment from the President or the party so far as I can tell.
Obviously neither party is asking the animals what they think. In fact, they don’t even ask most Americans. They just pretend it isn’t happening and keep doing the magicians trick: keep the public attention focused somewhere else. Don’t ask about the corruption and bias, then we’d have to deal with it and go against these large groups funding our campaigns.
Animals and Perspective
Finally, while I love the eagle as mascot, it’s also associated with the Roman empire and it’s fall, as well as pride and arrogance. Whenever I see the politicians up there making over bloated promises that they can’t keep – for they promise individual action on what takes a whole congress to decide, usually – I wonder how it translates into other languages. I know it’s hyperbole and it still turns me off. No wonder other nations think us arrogant, if this is their example. We set out to elect a leader, but our choices are usually limited to someone whose parroting the party line or their supporters. Is their an individual in there? With conviction and courage? Do they believe what they say and have a plan, whether I agree or not? Or are they just a puppet for a party?
I’ll finish by pointing out I’m not a ‘party’ person. I tend to vote the individual, which is increasingly difficult. Nor do I disagree with hunting. There is a danger at anything that encourages enjoyment of killing for fun, especially when there are so many other ‘shooting’ sports that exist without the need to kill. What I am is an animal lover. I believe animals bring out the best in us. They inspire us in their wild state. They comfort us when domestic. They heal the sick or injured in therapy programs. And yes, they even put food on the table.
Why does a politicians view of animals matter?
Animals reflect the best and the worst of us and this is why I look at a groups stance on the animal issues. Don’t care whether horses are slaughtered for consumption? Well, whatever your opinion of the horses place – livestock or companion – a politician should care that his citizens are exposed to meat full of medicines that cause Aplastic Anemia in people. Local politicians, at least, have let the people trying to promote it that they don’t want the environmental fall out in their town.
The same is true of the Bureau of Land Management and the wild horse and burro issues. You don’t have to care about wild horses or bureaus. You don’t even have to care about the range. What everyone – and certain every politician, who is supposed to support his citizens – should care about is the tremendous amount of wasted tax payer money, the suspicious lack of oversight and scientific evidence to support their claims. In a time when jobs are short and the economy a wreck, how can they afford to just ignore this?
The Animals View
Ultimately, I think it should be the animals who are insulted. We are supposed to be the dominant species, the wise, intelligent ones, with empathy and an ability and imagination to see things as others see them. Yet in these areas animals have been known to put us the shame. From the elephant who gets stuck and the whole herd who gathers around to help to the wild stallion who defends his mares and challenges the helicopter, they never put greed above the lives of their own. They aren’t perfect: they kill each other, fight, and there are rogues even among the animal world. But then, we are supposed to be the smart ones, the ones better than that. The shame of it is, we don’t act like it.
There is something about dragons that just captures the imagination.
Their powerful and have amazing abilities. Their role in our imaginations has changed over the centuries, informed by science, legend, religion and culture. They may be mere animals, or intelligent. They are a myth or a metaphor and maybe more. They can be fun to draw, but also a challenge. You won’t often find a photo of a ‘live’ dragon to pose for you. But if you know their history, you’ll be able to piece together enough of an image to create your own.
Dragons in Myth, Legend and Religion:
Spiritually, European dragons were thought of us ‘evil’. This is due to the influence of Christianity and the infamous claim that ‘Satan is a dragon’ in the book of Revelation (Revelation 12). However this is a bit of a stretch: the same devil is compared to both a snake and a roaring lion. Since Jesus is also compared to a Lion, we can’t say all lions are evil. And while many of us don’t like snakes, others do. They are, for better or worse, animals. A mouse might think a snake evil but most of us don’t. In artwork of the Renaissance Period they are often shown as a snakelike creatures with wings. Whether these are meant to represent a real extinct creature, or were a metaphor for sin, is known only to the creators. (ie look up when internet comes back). In any case these were characterized by not only a very lizard like look, batlike wings and an ability to breath fire.
Eastern dragons on the other hand were considered good luck. It’s a symbol of water and the heavens as well as fertility.
Physicality of dragons:
Given the general description of dragons, it’s possible they were informed by a combination of the Bible translations and remains of dinosaurs. Unless of course there is a real dragon that is not only extinct and the remains totally destroyed or buried deep in unexplored ocean depths.
It’s unknown what Eastern dragons are inspired by, but dinosaur bones are also found in China. But they share similarities to creatures in art by the aztecs and inuits.
Komodo dragons are real lizards, and in some tongues the word dragon traces back to ‘serpent.’
In recent years dragons have become popular in the realm of fantasy. In some ways, they’ve always been a hot topic. But now, advances in computer science allow for the creation in digital dragons. They swoop through movies in pursuit of Harry Potter and chase knights with swords. Perhaps it’s a slow recognition in our own flaws that has us re-evaluating dragon lore. Some dragon movies have come out which show dragons as more misunderstood than monstrous. Pete’s dragon is an old Disney movie featuring a friendly animated dragon and a real boy. But at the time most dragons were villains like The Hobbit's Smaug. Now stories like ‘Dragonheart’ reveal a different tale: a dragon who helped create the code of chivalry. In the Dragonriders of Pern series, dragons are a combination of human engineering and a natural species which help combat a deadly threat from a colony planet's skies.
As for the dragons of Christianity, some authors have finally recognized the gap in fantasy that Christian books had after CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. They have created new fantasies, and unlike the old ‘villain’ dragons, new ‘hero dragons are born. Stories like Donita K. Paul’s Dragonspell series where our heroes live in a world of dragons and magic where ‘Wulder’ and his ‘Paladin’ represent the creator and all follow his laws. Their are evil dragons here too, but they have their good counterpart. Also Bryan Davis ‘Dragons in our Midst follows the tale of a boy and girl who are the children of dragons turned into humans. The dragons were pursued by slayers, who had already slain all the wicked dragons and were indiscriminately turning to the ‘good’ dragons, not caring that they served God. Prophecy says these children will save the dragons and restore the Arthurian throne.
When drawing dragons, it’s helpful to keep this dragon history in mind.
Is your dragon good or evil or neutral? Intelligent as a human or purely an animal? Is he a dragon from an established fantasy or are you inventing one all your own? Given that dragons are usually lizards, pictures of lizards can be useful in determining types of scales. Bats can supply the wings. Claws are important too. Natural earth colors would make up a realistic dragon. Remember that it would take huge wings to support this critter!
You can of course be totally exotic. You might change bat wings for feathers, go for wilder painted colors and or markings. It can have a more mammal like paws and face. Perhaps your dragon is meant to have a rider like the ones in Dragonspell, Eragon or Dragonriders of Pern. It’s your dragon. You decide! How you draw your dragon will bring it to life and influence it’s personality.
Don’t forget that where your dragon lives can help you too. Grab some pictures off the internet to reference if you want to create your own ‘cave’ backgrounds, look up sky and mountain photos for how tips and tricks on coloring your backdrop. It can be harder than it looks. Make sure your dragon stands out, at least in those features you want to be prominent.
Finally: keep in mind how much of your dragon will be in your picture. A dragon is usually big and long. So if your limited to small paper you’ll either need to shrink down your dragon and lose details or focus on one area, such as the head, and crop out others. Of course, if you can afford big paper and have the place to work you can go all out!
Here are a couple of cool references I've used for dragons:
Dragonart: How to Draw Fantastic Dragons and Fantasy Creatures – J. “NeonDragon” Peffer
DVD- Dragons: A Fantasy Made Real – Discovery Channel Volume 3
Imaginative Realism– James Gurney
The Dragon Chronicles (Fiction)
Dragonspell series – (Fiction – Series) Donita K. Paul
Dragons in our Midst – (Fiction – Series) Bryan Davis
Dragonriders of Pern (Fiction- series) – Ann McCaffrey
For beginners, here is a decent video tutorial on dragons: