In December 2013 we introduced the horses to painting. They already knew how to hold things so adding a brush to their repertoire was easy. Our challenge was to create brushes that were horse-friendly. We have about fifteen brushes with their handles made shorter and sanded smooth. To further protect the horses we contacted Fincham’s Harness Shop in Nobleton, Ontario and requested that they take some leather and attach it to a wide brush that already had the handle removed. In one of the photos there’s a close-up of the brush in Kye’s mouth.
When we presented the Fincham’s brush to the horses they turned away their noses. However, after a few days they actually preferred this new-fangled thing.
We use paints that are washable and safe for children.
We hold the canvas at the height that the horse prefers. For quite a while Zelador liked to paint when his head was close to the ground. Most of the horses prefer chest-height. Zeloso occasionally enjoys painting on the stall wall.
We were given an easel and have introduced it to the horses. Our main concern is the easel is stationary and if the horse pushes hard against it the brush will end up further in the horse’s mouth. We prefer holding the canvas because we can “give” if the horse pushes against it.
The main challenge while holding a canvas is: we have to watch the horse closely because in a split second the brush just might swipe across an arm, jacket, face. These movements are not random. No accidents here! The horses know exactly what they are painting. Our goal is to get most of the paint on the canvas.
One of the pluses of Painting by Equines is studying their works of art to see if there are some recognizable shapes in them. Pax painted one picture in December 2013. In March of 2015 his owner, Ron, brought the painting to me and said, “Look at this! I think he created a self-portrait.” I looked and, sure enough, it was a lovely rendition of Pax. Why it took over a year for a human to recognize it is still a mystery.
Kye has created some amazing paintings. One looks like the world. Another has a horse ridden by a girl with her long hair trailing behind her. The third masterpiece is in different shades of blue. It looks like Pax. Kye’s stall is next to Pax’s so Kye’s had ample opportunity to study his subject.
Zelador does a high stepping Spanish Walk. One of the first paintings he created looks like a horse doing that movement.
The bottom line: painting with horses is great fun. They enjoy it and so do we.