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Remembering the Childlike Wonder for the Horse

"Longing" pastel by Kim McElroy

“Longing” pastel by Kim McElroy

When I was a child, I wanted to be a wild horse. I galloped on my hands and knees. My hair became a long horse’s mane, my expressions conveyed my emotions. I snorted and whinnied to call my herdmates.

I painted horses in a similar way. When I drew a horse, I was the horse. The horses I dreamed of and painted in my art were intelligent and sensitive emotional beings. They communicated in their own language. In truth, I could understand them better than the “real” horses I met. My only experience of real horses started when my parents enrolled me in riding lessons at the age of eight. But the riding lessons felt more like school than play; more peer pressure than friendship. More athletic than meditative. I sought solace in the quiet moments I spent with the horses in their stalls when no one was looking. If someone had shown me then how to look in a horse’s eyes to see it’s emotions, or watch its body language to understand its thoughts, or talk to it like a friend to ask it to work with me, I would have known at an earlier age that real horses were no different than my dream horses. Now I know they are the same thing. The horses I paint in aren’t imaginary or idealized. They express themselves as real horses do. Now that I own horses and know a little of what that language looks like, it amazes me that I intuitively knew it at a young age.

"Pure Joy" Pastel by Kim McElroy

“Pure Joy” Pastel by Kim McElroy

When we begin to see horses with the eyes of child – with a heart of wonder and joy, compassion and shared experience, we truly begin to experience the miracle of who they are.

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