Over the course of my life, I’ve been a collector of many things – items both rare and commonplace. When the Elvis stamps were introduced, I went through a brief phase of seeking out and buying postage supplies. When I filled an album or two, the obsession switched over to coins. I talked to all of my friends who had visited foreign countries and offered to barter with them for the strange currency.
Then, when I entered middle age, I thought my passion for collecting had finally abated. I would be able to return to a live of relative normalcy in which I don’t feel compelled to “collect them all.” That’s when a friend referred me to a Web site offering painted horse figurines. Their collectible nature appealed to me of course as a new “herd” is released several times a year. But it was actually the craftsmanship and artistic value of the pieces that really made them stand out in my mind.
When Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World in the 16th century, they brought their unique customs, tools and modes of transportation along with them. Prior to this introduction, natives of North and South America had never seen a horse before. As the Spanish and English continued to establish and fortify their separate civilizations in the Western Hemisphere, more and more horses were bred and shipped to America.
By the mid 1700s, Indian tribes in the Southwest had mastered horsemanship in their own right; they became adept at taming and training the wild horses that had proliferated west over time. Today, the image of the wild mustang remains a symbol for uninhibited freedom. Artists craft and paint pony figurines to approximate and reflect the energy and splendor of these awe-inspiring creatures.
Redecorating a room can be tricky, especially if you’re starting from scratch. It often helps to settle on an overarching theme and then build small details and accents around it. Football fans can create a shrine to their favorite team, outfitting the room with posters, framed jerseys and other assorted memorabilia. Aspiring musicians can make a baby grand piano into the centerpiece of the room and then shape the rest of the space accordingly.
For horse lovers, the chance to fill an entire room with equine décor is too good to pass up. You might want to begin with a leather couch, setting the tone in bold shades of golden brown. Then put up a few framed horse pictures and line up some collectible ponies on the coffee table. Make sure that you don’t overcrowd the space; an environment is much more welcoming when you can breathe easily and relax.
Every year around this time I think of my childhood summers spent helping out on the family farm. My grandparents lived on a horse ranch in the thumb of Michigan, and I would wake up early each morning to bale hay and feed the horses with nutritious oats. If I misbehaved, there was only one suitable punishment – I would be relegated to mucking out the stables. In time, even that became a pleasant activity.
Years later, I’ve begun to collect a series of painted ponies figurines that remind me of the early days on the farm. These collectibles are hand-painted with intricate designs and vibrant color schemes. They look great lined up on top of the hearth in my living room, and anytime my mind begins to wander I like to focus on their personal meaning.
I thought I enjoyed riding horses just as much as the next person, but that was before I met my friend Elizabeth during a trail ride one summer afternoon. She works as a large-animal veterinarian and comes in contact with horses on a daily basis, but that’s not enough to satisfy her obsession. She takes leisurely rides nearly every evening and lives on a horse farm with several high-priced thoroughbreds. In short, she doesn’t mess around when it comes to horses.
As her birthday approached about a month ago, I racked my brain for a unique gift idea. She had every sort of saddle imaginable and owned horse-themed paintings by the dozen. Recognizing her love of art, I investigated a flourishing creative niche: painted pony figurines. They struck me as ideal horse themed gifts, perfectly suitable for my purposes. Elizabeth was overjoyed to receive a hand-painted pony, and she has since added to what is now a serious collection.
There’s an inherent artistry associated with equestrian culture. The horse has a way of inspiring creativity and adventure; just think of a wild stallion galloping gracefully through the chaparral and sage of the American Southwest. Many talented artists have taken such these lucid, awe-inspiring images a step further by crafting painted pony figurines.
It’s amazing to behold how much variety and innovation each individual artist brings to this cutting-edge form. While artist Robert Rivera draws inspiration from traditional Acoma and Hopi tribal patterns, Mitzi Bower brings a unique take forged through years of experience working with pottery and ceramics. A painted pony collection is never complete, which is good news for hobbyists. Each new figurine evokes the adventurous spirit of wild horses.
In tough economic times, many people are finding that they have to get creative with their funds or their future funds. And that’s why so many people are looking into collectibles right now. As people become more and more strapped for cash, they are starting to sell off the various pieces of their collections, and that means anyone with a little bit of expendable income can snatch them up at a great price.
Whether you’re collecting collectible ponies or rare mint condition coins, these can be a great investment if you’re purchasing them on the cheap. Then, when the economy turns around sometime down the road, they can be sold at a far greater value. And if you’re able to hold onto these items for an extended period of time, it’s all the better, because their value will only go up. Just make sure you don’t hold onto the items past their prime!
Anyone interested in horses and collectibles is probably aware of the Trail of Painted Ponies line. These hand painted horse figurines are more than just mantle decoration, however. The line has also been photographed and documented in a color printed coffee table book entitled “Anniversary Edition of The Trail of Painted Ponies-From Fine Art to Collectibles.”
Proving popular with more than just the horse-loving community, the book has received some accolades as well. This includes the Arizona Book Publishing award in the art/music/photography category. The president of the Trail of the Painted Ponies ended up accepting the award. This does not mark the first award for the group, though, as their earlier book “American ArtParades” also took home the best book by a new publisher among several other awards.
My dad was helping me fix my mantle in my new house this week and he noticed that I had absolutely nothing to put on it. It’s not deep enough for picture frames or vases; I also wouldn’t want anything that big to fall off and break. I thought it would have to be an empty strip of wood above my fireplace until he brought me something wonderful.
As I was unpacking, he left a box with a series of painted ponies in them and a note that read: “All you need to run your house is horsepower.” It was cute and endearing and I can’t wait to tell people this story when they come over to look at my beautiful new home.
I love horses. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been enamored with horses, but living in the city, I could never convince my parents to get a horse for our condo. Though I’m too old to ask for a horse from Santa, my boyfriend still likes to entertain this notion.
Every year for my birthday, Christmas, or even Flag Day, he showers me with horse gifts and it’s the sweetest thing that anyone has ever done for me. While I may not have my own pony named Princess, I’m reminded that the dream will never die.