Celebrated Equine Sculptor Becomes Part of Painted Pony History

April 01, 2014

As everyone familiar with The Trail of Painted Ponies knows, we have been pioneers in the creation of an entirely new art form: the horse as a canvas for artistic expression. Part of what has made this exploration so unique is that all of our horse forms are exclusive to The Trail. We have commissioned some of the finest equine sculptors in the country to create them just for us.

To keep our offerings fresh, over the years we have added new forms. To the standing and running forms that were created for our initial public art project, we added the walking form and the rearing form. Two years ago, we introduced the regal form. Now, ten years after the very first Painted Ponies came down the trail, to add diversity to the line we have modified all of these forms, giving more movement to the mane and tail, more expressiveness to the faces, more action through muscle definition. We have also added new positions, including the trotting form. And as you have seen and will see more of, with the "Beauty of the Breed" collection we are featuring one-of-a-kind forms and with the mare-and-foal series, even a second horse.

Petals on the New Trotting Form

Kathleen Moody

The talented hand behind most of these changes belongs to Kathleen Moody, a name that collectors of the realistic Breyer horse line will recognize because she is the creator and designer of many of their most popular horses, such as Huckleberry Bay, Big Ben, Gem Twist, Marabella, Winter Song, the Wind Dancer line, and many others. Kathleen, who says she was born with horse hair between her teeth, grew up in a little city in southern California where there were no horses, so to make up for the loss she would draw them on paper and carve them with a stick out of dirt clods in a vacant field down the street. When her mother brought home a bag of potter's clay and she created her first full-bodied horse, the dye was cast.

Just out of her teens, she was hired as a Production Artist in the model shop at Disney Studios, where she painted, clothed, sculpted and did whatever was necessary to bring life to the animatronic figures for the different rides and exhibits. A career creating and sculpting beautiful and realistic horses for Breyer came next. 

The freelance opportunity to ride with The Trail is a departure in some respects, but one she welcomes. "The idea that anyone with a great design idea can create a unique horse for others to enjoy unites horse lovers all over. I have seen great, clever and beautiful designs come out of The Trail that add so much more to art, than just collecting pretty things. There is a special place in the world of equine art for these ponies! I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to create new horses for The Trail and to become a part of Painted Pony history."

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The Pasture Calls: Six more Painted Ponies Retired

February 28, 2014

A week ago, I officially retired my Quarterhorse mare, Shyloh. I was present at her birth twenty-two years ago, and other than those few years when I leased her out as a brood mare, I’ve had her my whole life as a trail horse. Whenever I had difficulty dozing off at night I didn’t count sheep, I saddled up Shyloh in my mind, and somewhere along our ride I would lasso a good night’s sleep. This decision was made easy by the recommendation of my vet. Shyloh has developed a condition in her rear legs that makes it painful for her to carry the weight of a rider. A condition that came with age and a genetic predisposition. So now she roams the 40-acre New Mexico ranch where her mother was put out to pasture ten years ago.

With horse retirement on my mind, we are announcing the next six Painted Ponies to be put out to pasture. They will ride no more. They are now, in art parlance, limited editions, since no more will be produced.

Rod and Shyloh

Looking at the Ponies on the list, I’m reminded again of how versatile the horse is as a canvas for creative expression, and how absolutely ingenious these talented artists were who accepted our invitation to “let your imagination run wild.” From the Pop imagery of “Peace, Love and Music,” to the retro Cowgirl imagery of “Cowgirls Rule,” to the elegant beauty of “Emergence,” to the charged realism of “The Front Runner,” to the Holiday spirit in “Song of Angels,” to the classic American West iconography featured in “Bonanza,” these Painted Ponies have honored the art movement that we like to call “Pony Expressionism.”

To view all of the Retired Painted Ponies, Click Here.

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Collector’s Choice Ornaments make their Debut

January 31, 2014

A rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither do Painted Ponies. We are always looking for something fresh and new that will give collectors another way of enjoying what we do, and with that introduction, allow me to announce the return of hanging Painted Pony ornaments, inspired by some of our best-selling classic Painted Pony figurines. Along with our Holiday ornaments, these hanging ornaments will liven up any Christmas tree or wreathe, as well as make great stocking-stuffers, but they can also be used to add low-cost decorative accents to any home. And, they make terrific keepsake gifts for a variety of gift-giving occasions, including birthdays, anniversaries, seasonal celebrations. Cast in resin and hand-painted, as detailed in their craftsmanship as the figurines themselves, Painted Pony hanging ornaments come with a gold cord for hanging, and will add character and flair to your home décor and accessories. The decorating opportunities are endless….

Painted Harmony Ornament

There are five ornaments in the Collector’s Choice Collection. Three of them have proven to be popular with collectors in the past - Painted Harmony, Storm Rider and Trail of Tears – and the other two came in at the top of the list in the online voting that was conducted on our website back in the early fall – Don’t Fence Me In and Rhinestone CowgirlTo view and order your Painted Pony ornaments now, click here.

Our love affair with ornaments doesn’t stop there. For the first time we are offering a Paint Your Own Ornament Artist Set. Similar to the Paint Your Own Pony kits, this Artist Set features four ready-to-paint ornaments that are based on our four most popular forms: the rearing, running, regal and standing horse forms. Each is cast in resin and comes with a gold cord for hanging. This new offering will give everyone the opportunity to create their own, unique, personalized ornament for the fun of it, or for special occasions where a customized present will make a memorable impression.

Please note: the Paint Your Own Ornament Artist Set does not come with brushes or paints. There are so many options for decorating your Painted Pony ornament, we did not want to limit them by including our choice of brushes or paints. We encourage you to use your own supplies or to check out the offerings at your local crafts store, where you also find a range of materials that will allow you to add magical details to your ornament.

At this time, the Paint Your Own Ornament Artist Set is AVAILABLE ONLY through the Official Trail of Painted Store at an exceptionally affordable price. Click here for details.

Regal Paint Your Own Ornament

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The Year of the Horse Will be Full of Surprises!

January 02, 2014

And so we enter 2014, a new year which just happens to be the Chinese Year of the Horse. According to astrological charts this will be a fortunate year. A year that will bring good luck and good things to all “horse people.” And to celebrate this occasion, which comes around every twelve years, The Trail will not only continue our commitment to quality and variety with stunning works-of-art that capture the inspirational power of the horse, but we will also be introducing some surprises, which start with the Winter 2014 Trail Mix.

  1. On the heels of the popular “Painted Harmony,” which pays artistic tribute to the magnificent Paint Horse breed, we are introducing an original equine artwork sculpted by a Guest Master Artist that honors the Gypsy Vanner, a breed developed by gypsies in the United Kingdom to pull their colorful wagons. “Don’t Fence Me In” will be the second in our “Beauty of the Breed” series.

  2. Complementing this magnificent Pony are four figurines that recognize previously popular Painted Ponies. “Rhinestone Cowgirl” was created by the same creative mother/daughter team of artists responsible for “Cowgirl Cadillac.” “Guardian of Sunset's Gates” will replace the all-time bestseller “War Pony.” “Yankee Doodle” marches in step with previous patriotic Ponies, and “Krystal Knight” joins a collection of fantasy steeds that have pranced down The Trail.

  3. There was a time when, in addition to our Holiday ornaments, we offered collectors ornaments inspired by popular figurines. By popular demand, that time has returned, and with the winter release we will be releasing five new ornaments: “Storm Rider”, “Trail of Tears”, “Painted Harmony”, and the top two vote-getters in our website poll “Don’t Fence Me In” and “Rhinestone Cowgirl.”

  4. In 2014 collectors will also be treated to the introduction to two new “updated” horse forms. We have re-sculpted the rearing horse to give it a little more action, and in the Spring release you will see an entirely new form: the Trotting Horse.

  5. As those who follow our annual art competitions know, we have received some absolutely sensational designs that celebrate the changing of the seasons, and holidays other than Christmas. For this reason, in 2014 we will be introducing an Autumn Pony and a Halloween Pony, both of which were finalists in our art competitions.

  6. Finally, 2014 will see the return of the Paint Your Own Pony kits, with a difference. Where before we offered the running and rearing Pony forms, in February we will be introducing the Regal and Trotting horse forms for collectors to paint. Not only that, we will also be offering a Paint Your Own Ornament kit, giving everyone the opportunity to personalize and customize Painted Pony ornaments. Another difference in the new Pony kits is they will be available with or without paint brushes and paint pots, and at a significantly lower price point: Under $20.

All this and more will be galloping down The Trail in 2014, the Chinese Year of the Horse.

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The Trail of Painted Ponies Holiday Art Competition – A New Christmas Tradition

December 02, 2013

To most people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without at least a few of these Yuletide traditions: sparkling Christmas trees, nativity scenes in public parks, celebrations of the birth of Jesus Christ, Santa Claus with his long white beard, an exchange of gifts on Christmas eve or morning, mince pies and plum pudding, stockings hung by the chimney with care. Around the Trail of Painted Ponies office we ring in the holidays with one other tradition. Our annual Holiday Art Competition. The December call for original designs that will bring beauty, happiness, and Holiday cheer to the world when they are crafted into figurines and ornaments.

This tradition was started in 2004, with the introduction of four Holiday-themed Painted Ponies that celebrated Christmas in uniquely different ways. “Nutcracker” drew on imagery from the 19thcentury Russian ballet, as perfect in its detail as a Faberge egg. “Snowflake” reminded us of Christmas Eve snowfalls when we watched big lazy flakes drift through the night sky and dreamed of the Pony that Santa would surely bring this year. The angelic “Golden Girl” watched the hustle and bustle of life below from heavenly clouds above. “Christmas Clydesdale” imagined a Christmas sled full of laughing children being pulled down a snowy street by a reliable draft horse.

Nutcraker Figurine

Nine years and fourty Holiday Painted Ponies later, the tradition continues with this invitation to creative spirits wherever you may be to let your imagination enrich the Holidays-to-come, along with the lives of Painted Pony collectors who have made giving and receiving Painted Pony figurines and ornaments part of their Christmas traditions.

Click Here for Competition Details.

Happy Trails and Happy Holidays,

The Trailmaster

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    Colleen Dahlstrom said on February 14, 2014:
    I would love to have a Gypsy Vanner St. Patricks Day Painted Pony. It would be an amazing collector pony to add to your line up.

    Ann said on January 14, 2014:
    Thank you for giving artists from around the world, a chance to show their talent ,and to be able to be a part of each contest.

Celebrating Our New Celebrity Artists

November 01, 2013

Every artist who creates a design that is crafted into a figurine is a STAR in our book. But some of our Painted Pony artists are “stars” in their own right. As we enter the holiday gift-giving season, we would like to single out two people whose accomplishments in other artistic fields deserve special mention.

Co-creator of “Prairie Princess,” a figurine which is part of the Fall Release, is Alison Arngrim, who became famous in the mid-Seventies when she joined “Little House on the Prairie” as the evil Nellie Oleson, a child dressed innocently in sausage curls and dainty blue dresses who was so hateful that Vanity Fair would eventually rank her as the No. 1 female villain in TV history. Ms. Arngrim has continued a career in show business, traveling the globe doing hundreds of yearly personal appearances and performoances of her one-woman show based on her 2010 Nw York Times best-selling autobiography “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch.” We would like to thank Howie Green, a pop artist who also created the best-selling figurine “Love, Peace and Music,” who has been a good friend of Alison’s since the mid-1980s when they met at the World Famous Laugh Factory Comedy Club in Hollywood, where Howie was the Art Director for Laugh Factory Magazine and Alison was a regular featured performer.

To view and order “Prairie Princess,” Click Here.
To keep up with Alison, go to www.hgd.com/alison
To keep up with Howie, go to www.hgd.com

Alison Arngrim

The other celebrity we are proud to welcome to our artist’s stable is Andre DeBrekht, an internationally acclaimed artist renowned for using the techniques of traditional Eastern European craftsmanship, and the beloved creator of classical holiday décor. Known as a “Master of Illustration” for his ability to capture Old World authenticity with a distinctive and recognizable style, with his Painted Pony “Old Fashioned Christmas“ he has created another time-honored scene that will never grow old, and will help make the holidays memorable.

To view and order “Old Fashioned Christmas,” Click Here

To keep up with Andre, go to www.gdebrekht.com

Photo to the left: Andre' DeBrehkt with "Old Fashioned Christmas" in his studio

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Let the Voting Begin!

September 03, 2013

The Military Horse Competition is officially closed. Voting will commence on October 16 and the top three vote-getters will be announced on our November website update.

Our goal with this competition is to give artists the opportunity to pay creative tribute to the role the horse has played as a soldier in wartime, as well as a companion to veterans and their families when their service has ended. Helping us with this effort have been two organizations that are dedicated to providing support to veterans and their families. Horses4Heroes makes equestrian dreams come true… one horseback ride at a time. Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors provides service to those who have lost a loved one on active duty with the Armed Forces. We encourage everyone to visit their websites (www.horses4heroes.org, www.taps.org), participate in their programs, and make donations in their behalf. The good work they do is heroic in its own ways.

We would also like to salute another partner who volunteered to contribute promotionally and financially when they learned about this competition. Intrepid International, based in New Holland, Pennsylvania, is a company that manufactures and distributes saddles, muzzles, a full line of horse related products, and even Painted Ponies to over 1000 tack stores all over the world. Their founder and owner is a Marine who served in Vietnam. We thank Intrepid International too, and invite horse lovers who purchase their tack, etcetera online to visit them: www.intrepidintl.com.

Finally, we want to thank everyone who has written to thank us for honoring the horse in this way, and who have shared their pictures and their creativity with us.

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    Nicki Nelson said on November 03, 2013:
    Regardless of the popularity vote, I hope you will consider "Always Faithful" aka SSGT Reckless for a future Painted Pony. There is no better representative of the Military Horse than Reckless. Please take time to review her history and consult with Robin Hutton about a SSGT Reckless painted pony. It really does just have to happen!

Touching the Hearts of Hurting Children

July 30, 2013

Last month we announced a new art competition – Honoring the Military Horse – and introduced our non-profit partner in this competition, Horses4Heroes, an organization that opens barn doors across the country, allowing horses to heal the wounds of war and separation. This month we are proud to be able to add a second non-profit partner: The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. TAPS is a national organization that since 1994 has provided compassionate care for the families of America’s fallen heroes. Emotional support, grief and trauma resources, Good Grief Camps for children, a 24/7 information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the Armed Forces – these are just some of the services and programs offered by TAPS, free of charge. For more information please visit their website: www.taps.org.

Not so coincidentally, TAPS has a special relationship with military horses, past and present, and with one horse in particular. His name is Klinger and he is one of more than 60 horses in “The Old Guard” Caisson Platoon. This midnight black horse helps execute funeral honors at Arlington National Cemetery’s hallowed grounds. Indeed he has served at more than 5,000 full honor military funerals. Klinger was also the lead horse in the 2013 Presidential Inauguration and is the only military horse in the Horse Stars Hall of Fame.

Not only that, he is involved in providing support to the children left behind following the death of a service member. “One of the hardest moments for a child who has lost a loved one is the finality of the funeral at the cemetery,” explains a TAPS spokesperson. “Klinger is a warm and comforting face to see on a day when a child will be saying a final good-bye.”

Klinger with friends

For years, Klinger has touched the hearts of hurting children grieving over a military death who come to the TAPS Good Grief Camp over Memorial Day weekend, or visit him where he is stabled at the Fort Meyer, Virginia military base.

The Trail welcomes TAPS and Klinger as a partner, and a friend.

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The Spirit Behind the Military Horse Art Competition

July 01, 2013

The idea of holding an art competition that paid tribute to the role of the horse in American military campaigns is something that we at The Trail of Painted Ponies have wanted to do for some time. From its distinguished service in the American Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War One, World War Two, and even Desert Storm; from its heroic performance on the battlefield to its service in the transport corps to ceremonial events to programs designed to help returning combat veterans; horse and soldier have an almost legendary relationship. The main thing holding us back has been finding the right partner. There are a lot good programs out there linking equestrian organizations to service members, and we wanted to find just the right one for The Trail.

We think we’ve found it in Horses4Heroes, a Las Vegas-based organization that for the past ten or so years has been opening barn doors to allow horses to help heal the wounds of war. And often overlooked but of great importance, to offset the effects that war and separation have on military families. This is what makes Horses4Heroes so special in our minds. They believe profoundly in the power of the horse – not just for the advantages it has given soldiers in times of war, but as an instrument that can help heal their injuries. They truly believe that giving wounded warriors and their families the opportunity to ride a horse, can be life-changing. Be it part of bereavement assistance, injury outreach, or morale-boosting recreation events, in their minds saddling up a horse and going for a ride is good for individual soul, as well as family relations.

Founded by a woman with a background in corporate public relations, Sydney Knott, along with her three daughters, Horses 4Heroes is run by women with a mission. They have built Horses4Heroes into one of the most successful equestrian service groups for the military in the country by establishing over 200 “affiliates” in 44 states. It so happened they were looking for ways to creatively expand when Sydney received our call. Over the years, Horses4Heroes has given away a number of Patriotic Painted Pony figurines as prizes and awards at various events, which is how we knew about them. Now we wanted to know more… and out of that conversation and those that followed, it was decided. The Trail of Painted Ponies would partner with Horses4Heroes on an art competition that would give artists and creative spirits in the service and out, the opportunity to artfully honor the military horse in all its glory.

To learn more about Horses4Heroes, Click Here or go to: www.horses4heroes.com.

To learn more about the competition, Click Here.

Be sure to check back for weekly updates about this exciting new competition!

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The Stories Behind the Winning Designs

May 01, 2013

It may be true that a picture is worth a thousand words. But when you hear the stories behind the two winning entries in the latest Trail of Painted Ponies/Appaloosa Horse Club art competition, it reminds you that there are times when words complete the picture..

Just listen to what Kelly Kurtz, an artist from Denver, Pennsylvania, wrote to accompany her winning design in the Native Heritage category, Blood Brothers:

“The bond between horse and rider is as two spirits becoming one. The Native Americans knew this better than anyone, as they revered their spotted Ponies for their courage and stamina, trusting them with their lives, loving them as brothers. They looked into each other’s souls and saw a reflection of themselves within. Even in death the loyalty and love of these companions cannot be broken.

Blood Brothers depicts a loyal war mount respectfully bowing at the grave of his fallen rider… his friend… his blood brother.

Blood Brothers by Kelly Kurt

“While his tack is a simple slip rope bridle and modest tanned hides and furs, his coat is proudly painted by the hands of his brother depicting the honors he has won while protecting his companion throughout their treacherous journeys…. A bloodied handprint resting on his right shoulder is one final loving touch, to thank the one who had carried him through so many perils. A reassurance they would meet again and gallop beneath the stars upon the Spirit Road.”

Now take a moment to hear what inspired Billie Renee Campbell, a full-time artist from Emlenton, Pennylvania who specializes in Appaloosa paintings, to create the winning entry in the Beauty of the Breed category, Ghost Wind:

Ghost Wind by Billie Campbell
“The legend of the Ghost Wind Stallion has been passed down through generations and is part of the oral history of the Nez Perce and other Pacific Northwest tribes. Folklore tells of a wild stallion of the plains that was recognizable by his mottled color patterns and striped hooves, and considered to be superior to all other horses. He was not only beautiful and intelligent, he was graceful and fiery, and unmatched in speed and endurance. It was said he moved like a “white shadow” and possessed strong medicine. Just a glimpse of him would bestow good fortune. So revered was he that someone offered a reward for his capture, and a band of professional mustang hunter rose to the challenge. They chased him for two hundred miles before finally catching him.  Roped and staked, he refused to eat or drink and finally lay down and died. But in the years after, sightings continued, as he was spotted in the distance fading in and out of sight in rain, snow, mist and fog. True or not, the legend of Ghost Wind only adds more charm to the illustrious story of the Appaloosa.”


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    Rod Barker said on November 04, 2013:
    Dear Dr. Donna K Buechler-Furey, “Blood Brothers” is current under development as a figurine. Look for it in 2014.

    Dr Donna K Buechler-Furey said on November 01, 2013:
    when will Blood Brothers go on sale?

    Gary Lane said on June 25, 2013:
    Ghost Wind is a beautiful pony_ WELL DONE!!! As for Blood Brothers... I thought submissions had to be done on a TOPP Paint Your Own Blank OR an official TOPP sketch. This is neither_ much like Painted Harmony from the APHA competition. Oh well, like the old saying goes... Rules were meant to be broken.

    Lucidia Moreno said on June 24, 2013:
    Nice Stories!

    Betsy Bauer said on June 14, 2013:

    Beautiful designs, hats off to these artists. Love that Blood Brothers matches Wounded Knee and Trail of Tears making a small herd of their own. We hope they will be made as figurines.


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