Are Horses a Part of Your Spirit?
You might feel that no one else really understands the depth of what horses mean to you.
Some of you have loved horses all your life, but you have either relegated that love to the back burner, or you have embarked on your dreams only to discover the “Horse World” can be shallow and unfulfilling. Or you may be new to horses, embarking on this journey on your own terms.
Some of you are creatives, who want to manifest your unique voice through your love of horses. Either way, you know there is more to horses than their beauty, their talent, and their behavior.
Sometimes there are no words for these feelings, though authors the world over have written about our relationship with horses for centuries. But words access the heart through the mind... Art accesses the spirit through the heart
Welcome to my world.
I’m Kim McElroy,
a Visionary Equine Artist
(and Writer, Entrepreneur, Teacher, and Student of Horse)
I have traveled this journey myself. My desire to explore the feelings I have for horses has given me a life path of art and writing. Along the way, I discovered there were many people like you, who feel as I do.
In 1987 at the age of twenty-one, I was finishing my second year of Art School and I was well on my way to pursuing my art career. Because I had the loving support of my mother, Kay, I didn’t have an authority telling me I couldn’t succeed as an artist. I knew I could manifest my destiny but I didn’t have a direction. My art had some ideas of its own, but I didn’t have a style or a purpose for my art.
I had always loved horses. As a child, horses were among my very first scribbles I drew as soon as I could hold a crayon. I didn’t have exposure to horses until much later, but the Spirit of Horse was in me, all the same. I pretended I was a horse, galloping on my hands and knees, and when I couldn’t be a horse, I was drawing them, which was the next best thing.
Whenever we went out to eat, I occupied myself drawing on the paper napkins. One day a waitress admired my drawing, so I gave it to her. She was delighted, and she went behind the cash register and took a huge snoopy cookie out of the case, and gave it to me. I learned that my art could make people happy, and I was rewarded for it!
At the age of eight, my parents finally succumbed to my desire to be with horses. They signed me up for riding lessons at the only stable within an afternoon drive. I was excited until I discovered that this was a place where horses weren’t all that happy. Row upon row of horses were standing, usually alone, in tiny smelly corrals. People taking them out for exercise, yelling at them, and cracking whips. Where was the joy? Where was the freedom?
Riding lessons were no better, as I found myself kicking at a horse who didn’t want to go because the teacher told me to. My only good memories of that place was the time after the riding lessons when I had the afternoon to just be with the horses. I was given permission to clean the corrals of the school horses. Since there were no adults around, I was able to spend time with them during quiet moments when their surroundings didn’t seem so mundane. In these magical moments, nature made herself known, and the horses were able to be themselves. I discovered my love of horses was less about where they could take me physically, than the way I felt when I was with them.
During that time I drew mostly unicorns and horses in fantasy realms because at some level I wanted to believe that the real horses in the world were capable of that kind of magical power – but I couldn’t reconcile that belief with the impressions of the horses I had encountered.
SO HERE IS THE STORY...
Fast forward to age twenty. It was spring break at art school, and I had an assignment to fill my sketchbook. I was visiting a family friend named Geska who owned Arabian horses. Geska was an artist, so she understood that the first thing I wanted to do was to draw the horses. Little did I know I was about to have an experience that would change my life.
I went down to the barn. The horses were dozing in their stalls. I tried drawing them, but I had forgotten how to be with horses in that peaceful reverie. Geska realized my dilemma and suggested she could let the horses out into the arena.
I had never seen horses at liberty before. They transformed. Their stillness turned into motion. They cantered and tossed their heads with their tails up in the air, twirling and dancing. It took my breath away. I realized that they enjoyed showing off for me as much as for themselves.
I began to draw them. At first, I was frustrated, I couldn’t get them down fast enough on the paper before they would turn or move and I’d lose the pose. It wasn’t until I started to breathe, and admire their spirit, and feel the emotion, only then could my fingers capture their energy. My sketches began to form wild wispy lines, overlapping and swirling together as quick gestures of motion, which was all I could remember when I looked down at my pad.
When the horses became calm I was able to see what I had just drawn, and I knew these drawings were different from anything I had ever done before. I had never been with horses in this way, and I realized it was in their freedom that they were most beautiful to me.
Geska admired my drawings and she said they were something special she had never seen before. She pointed to one drawing and said, “Is that Hala?” I replied, “Yes, how did you know, it's just a few scribbled lines.” She said, “Because it feels like him.” I realized then that my drawings were somehow an imprint of the emotional energy of the horse rather than merely a drawing.
These became what I call Spirit Sketches. For the first time in my artistic life, they became my own style – a nudge of my own inner knowing which then evolved through the medium of pastel as
an experience of the truth about horses
In this truth was a glimmer of the awareness that horses were the magical sentient beings I had believed them to be when I was a child.
Things began happening very quickly after that. My mother offered to be my business partner. Her experience in personal banking and her personality made us a great team. An acquaintance mentioned that my talent and success might be influenced by the year I was born in Chinese Astrology, the year of The Fire Horse. This aspect of the Chinese sign of the Horse happens every 60 years. People born in those years are gifted and make their mark at a young age. What better name could there be for our business!
I began selling my art at galleries but then quickly found an even more avid audience at horse events. Selling my artwork directly to the public was fun and rewarding because I got to share the joy and inspiration personally with horse people. The fun part about showing my art myself was that I was so young that no one believed I was the artist. They would approach my mom and ask her about the art, and she would smile, and say, "My daughter is the artist!"
Very soon I realized that my paintings, just like encounters with real horses, were often catalysts for healing. These emotional connections could happen for people in surprising ways, whether they had horses in their lives, or not. Often people couldn’t define their emotions and were mystified that a work of art had such a powerful effect on them. Once they had this type of experience, they never forgot the painting, even if years had passed.
I believe this is because horses are messengers, carrying wisdom from the divine to awaken us to our inner knowing. These revelations inspired me to also hone my writing skills to interpret and express the feelings that horses inspire in me. My writings are an intrinsic part of my artistic expression. There is no place where one begins and the other ends.
In my successful career, one event stands out which has been the most life-changing. In 2007, bestselling author Linda Kohanov and I came up with the idea to create a deck of horse wisdom cards titled the Way of the Horse ~ Equine Archetypes for Self Discovery. Learning from Linda, her Eponaquest herd, and other gifted certified instructors over the years not only transformed my own healing journey, it has helped me understand more about how horses reflect and inform our psyche. The purpose of my art is more than decorative, it is a tool to inspire self-reflection and guidance by connecting with the spirit of horse.
In 1995, when I met my equine soulmate Darma at a Kentucky Racetrack, my life profoundly changed. When I began to live with her she inspired me to rescue other horses, and my life became both more wonderful and more challenging. My husband Rod and I have given sanctuary to thirty-plus domestic and wild animals at our SkyeLandeSea Farm over the years. I share some of their stories in my blogs. I have traveled many physical and emotional journeys with our animal family, through the pains and joys of life and the grief and release of death. I’ve been there and back again from my near-fatal heart attack, and in my husband’s journey through cancer. All of these life experiences become a part of my art and writing, and in my empathy and compassion for others.
My website is my home and my life. Join me, see the creations, read the poetry, get to know the horses, and hear the stories that will inspire you to find your own connections. Honor the part of you that knows horses are the magical sentient beings you believe them to be. Find the synchronicity that will lead you to the works of art, the horses that speak to your soul.
Celebrate your love affair with horses
Give yourself the gift of art
One of my special collectors shared, "Your paintings are windows that look out into our true home, and doors through which we can fly into realms we so nostalgically seek." Connecting with people like you who feel as I do about horses keeps me inspired. My love for horses overflows from my heart to my hands, to the pastels with which I create my art.
May the HORSE be with you,
p.s. I love hearing stories of our connections. Please feel free to Get in Touch