This idyllic scene of five mounted Indians watering their horses is a variant of at least three other similar paintings (see CR# 438A for a more detailed discussion of their content). In this version, Miller eliminates the river bank in the foreground and focuses the scene more tightly on the figures. Similar to the related works, the foremost female rider is the most prominent among her companions. Miller depicts her clothing and riding tack in greater detail and with brighter colors than the rest of the composition. Even her horse has a more regal countenance than the other animals. The artist liberally uses white gouache highlights—whose effect is doubled by their reflection upon the surface of the calm river—to further emphasize the woman and her horse.
In his Rough Draughts, Miller commented that Indian women “form very picturesque objects & make admirable studies for the artist who desires a rich arrangement of color, with the accessories of fine scenery as a background.” (Rough Draft 13, Scene on “Big Sandy River”) Here, Miller has made just such an admirable study of the central female figure.