During the fundraiser Zeloso was featured putting finishing touches on two signs. After the event I received quite a few emails with the horse Justin painting. I talked with Ann Clifford (a great artist) and she rounded up canvases and paints that the horses could work with.
I started with the boys in their stalls. Only distraction was the slow-feeder hay nets…. The boys were able to focus long enough to paint.
The next day Ann came with her camera hoping to film the entire creative process with Kye painting. Only snag, Kye had never held a paint brush in his mouth. Hmmm….
I decided to present painting to Kye in the arena. I set up our “studio” on one of the lower pedestals. I placed a blue tarp over on the pedestal to protect the brushes in case Kye opened his mouth and the brush landed on arena sand. I was aware of Kye’s dislike of pedestals and the blue tarp. Yep, two strikes against me (three if you consider that Kye had never held a brush) and I hadn’t even started yet.
The good news is: I had dozens of small treats and my clicker, ready to begin.
Kye happily came to me and stood next to the pedestal. I presented the brush. He looked at it. Click/treat. After several click/treats for acknowledging that the brush exists he opened his mouth and almost held it. He received a small jackpot of treats!
Within minutes he was holding the brush.
I picked up the canvas and held it near the brush. Kye moved his mouth and the brush flicked across the canvas. Yippee!
At one point I placed the canvas on the pedestal. I held the brush and Kye investigated the painting surface. Kye has this adorable nose wiggle. He uses it to inspect many things. When he plays the piano the nose wiggle creates interesting sounds. He placed his nose on the canvas and snuffled here and there. His nose came in contact with some of the paint and Kye created very interesting “nose strokes” (as opposed to “brush strokes”). Time passed and I presented a second brush and a different colour. When Zelador and Zeloso were painting I did the same thing. BUT they didn’t like the new brush handle so I put the new colour of paint onto the brush they liked. Kye, had the same initial reaction to the new brush handle, but within a few minutes he painted one or two tentative strokes. He lifted his head and gazed to the northwest and I figured he was done with his painting. I started to put paint jars away and Kye decided it was time to really paint. He did one long stroke after another across the canvas. I reached out to collect his brush, but he was having none of that. He continued painting. Wow!
The other good news is:
1. The paint was easy to remove from Kye’s nose.
2. I only had a few smudges on my hands.
3. The painting this twenty-two-year-old horse created is lovely.