A dappled gray horse feeds at a manger while a man brushes his coat. A horse blanket and bridle hang from a pole in the foreground and other barnyard utensils--a pitchfork, broom, and pail--fill the stable. To the right, a fashionably dressed woman appears at a doorway that connects to the main farmhouse. Light from the open doorway illuminates the animal, the painting's center of attention.
Domestic animals like this carefully groomed horse would have been valued possessions of their prosperous owners during the 1600s in Holland. Clues such as the orderly and well-built stable and the woman's handsome dress and jewelry indicate that this was a well-to-do middle-class household.
Gerard ter Borch's paintings are noted for their subtlety of composition, close attention to detail, and delicate color. In Horse Stable he used a palette of warm browns and grays, brightened by the red accents of the man's hat, the woman's skirt, and the bricks on the left-hand wall.