Gift Horse is the tenth work of public art to appear on the plinth, following hot on the tail of that big blue cock. It's the work of New Yorker Hans Haacke, selected by committee and placed on public view for the next eighteen months. His design features a skeletal horse with an electronic ribbon tied to its foreleg that displays up-to-the-minute stock market prices. The horse is a reference to the equestrian statue of William IV that would have appeared on the plinth in the 1840s had public money not run out. And the share price thing is a wry comment on London's relationship with wealth and power, or it's whatever you'd like it to be, because that's art.
I didn't plan on being in Trafalgar Square at the right moment, indeed I missed the cover sheet being pulled off and Boris's big photo opportunity. By the time I arrived the dignitaries had left, the last TV crew was wrapping up its piece to camera, and the square was returning rapidly to normal. Indeed a large number of people standing around seemed oblivious to the new arrival, preferring instead to point their cameras at the fountains, Nelson's Column and especially each other. The Gift Horse doesn't stand out in the same way that Hahn/Cock did, being a far more subtle intervention, and not an obvious selfie backdrop.
At the foot of the plinth, operatives were busy tidying away the signage erected to give the launch a correctly-branded backdrop. Two more staff were overseeing operations from the northern terrace, each bedecked in an official black #fourthplinth t-shirt (complete with hashtag). I don't know what their day jobs are, but Plinthing can't be a full time role, at least not since Anthony Gormley's One and Other in 2009.
You've got until autumn next year to see Gift Horse for yourself, which is a long enough period that you probably won't need to make a special visit. And then it'll be swapped for a giant thumbs-up instead, and who knows what after that, until either King Charles unveils his mother on the Fourth Plinth, or Londoners decide they'd much rather this quirky sequence continued.