A friend who’s already taught her horse to paint said the brush she uses is three inches wide with a three inch long wooden handle. She also wrote that she uses a stencil with the first initial of her horse’s name, “Aurum”, and tapes it to painting paper on the horse’s table. She chose red paint. He dips the brush by himself into a metal tray used for painting with rollers. (I rolled my eyes when I read “Aurum’s table”! Yet another thing to create for the boys!)

I went to the local dollar store and found red paint, brushes AND some aprons! (When you’ve got grey horses you become acutely aware of how every little thing shows up on their light coats.)

Thursday I started this adventure. I presented “holding the paint brush” to both boys in their stalls. Zelador would touch it and drop it. (This is the same horse who picks up and carries EVERYTHING!!! And I thought painting would be “a piece of cake”… Here I was at the first step in painting and I’d hit a road block!) I added some vet wrap to pad the handle, thinking it would make the surface softer and easier to hold. He still dropped it.

I brought out the aprons. One is definitely “girly” so we women will wear it ONLY when painting. I want the boys to make a specific notation regarding the apron. The other two are neat, one for each boy. Although the brush is not Zelador’s favourite thing, he loves wearing the apron…

Zeloso held the brush.

Friday in the arena Ann and her friend, Sonya, set up a “table” out of bags of shavings with a plywood top. Ann created two stencils: a “smiling face” and a “Z.” We used the smiling face. We taped it onto a large drawing surface Ann had created and set this on the table. The metal tray with a small dab of red paint (washable) was beside it. Ann and I dipped a brush into the pan and painted over the smiley face. Zelador watched intently. He moved everything around with his nose. (I’m thinking “finger painting/nose painting?”)

He pushed the drawing surface all over the place. We removed it and taped the stencil and painting paper onto the make-shift table. Zelador liked this change and stopped trying to move things.

When he picked up the brush he flipped his nose. The brush flew threw the air and the vet wrap top dropped to the ground. I retrieved both and put the vet wrap in my pocket.

Much to my surprise Zelador suddenly had no problem holding the brush by the wooden handle. He delighted in picking it up and tossing it forward (off the table and onto the arena footing which, of course, got into the bristles…)

After my fifth retrieve of the brush I demonstrated a new technique: painting and placing the brush down on the table. He liked that idea and proceeded to take the brush from my hand, move it a bit on the paper and place it on the table. You could tell he was very pleased with himself for noticing that I put the brush on the table.

He acquired paint under his face (a perfect red circle about and inch in diameter) and on his nose. (I’m rethinking using “red” paint.)

We ended the session after he did a lovely brushing stroke on the smiley face…before he became bored and waxed creative.

Sunday’s Painting
We brought Z and Z to the arena to paint. Zeloso hasn’t painted so he got to watch Zelador. We took turns (about three turns each). Zeloso actually made a brush stroke over the paper. After the brief session I went to the dollar store and got another apron. Two of the ones I have fit people. The third apron I bought previously was from the Dollar Store and it fits both horses nicely. With each turn at painting I removed the apron from one horse and placed it on another. Definitely two horse aprons are a plus.

Zelador did well, too. He only flipped the brush onto the arena floor once.

I also bought green paint. Today Zeloso looked like he had lipstick on…all that smudging the red paint with his nose!

I purchased some numbers and letters made out of something that I don’t think the boys can quickly destroy. It might be particle-board. It’s hard, not easily breakable and the letters (A,B,C) are about eight inches high. The numbers (1,2,3) are about six inches high. The store had two other options: letters and numbers made out of foam or wood. It didn’t take much of an imagination to picture Z and Z reducing both to rubble.

I took Zelador to the arena and introduced him to “A” and “B”. He correctly picked the one I asked for. I’m sure his delight in playing games will kick in and I’ll be saying “A” many, many times…

I also bought a small packet containing the alphabet and numbers made out of paper which is about 3 inches by 3 inches. Don’t quite know what I’ll do with them. Perhaps put them on wood.

My friend who taught her horse to paint wrote: I don’t recall Aurum worrying about holding the brush, but he didn’t handle criticism very well.  I started him in the barn’s aisle, and if you mentioned he shouldn’t get paint on his little table, he would do things like sweep the brush up his stall door.
He put paint on my hand at a show when I said he had gone over the line. You might think that this sort of thing was accidental, but it definitely wasn’t!

I’d like to set up a series of drawers for the horses to open and close. They both understand opening the mailbox. I’ll not try to teach them to close it because the mailbox door is quite large, awkward and heavy.