All dogs go to heaven, but heaven is so jejune. Fortunately for NYPD's finest equine officers, a former New York Corrections employee and farrier is immortalizing their gorgeous forms through art. Specifically, by assembling and repositioning their skeletons after death. Walter Varcoe, who ran the farm program at Otisville Correctional facility in 2004, tells the Lexington Herald-Leader that horses are his muse. "I find horses just beautiful, and (seeing their skeletons) impresses me even more that they can do what they do."
After building one of his skeletons for the inmates at Otisville to study, the NYPD asked him to build one for their mounted patrol training facility in the Bronx. For 2010's World Equestrian Games, he reconstructed a NYPD horse named Louie mid-jump. "I had an idea, and I had to find a picture of a horse that really captured the exact moment, that striving, that intent to get over the jump," Varcoe says. "I find the biomechanics fascinating."
Demand is higher than Varcoe expected: he's created over 30 complete skeletons along with several smaller works. The skeletons themselves mostly come from vets, and he allows the horses to decompose on his farm in Orange County. When he can, Varcoe likes to meet the horses before they pass to get a sense of their personality. "Some people find the skeletons creepy. But some people call me up and say it would mean the world to have their horse do this. ... It's like a very noble thing." Not to mention that it gives the horses a "job" in the afterlife.