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It’s an Art Form: The Powerful Role of Equine Artists in the Horse Industry

Most everyone in our industry has owned, ridden, or encountered at least one remarkable horse in their lifetime.  Whether it be their first pony, first world show title, or 4H pal…most everyone finds a special horse at some point throughout the years. 

Because of this, people often invest in memorable articles to remind them of their precious time with this horse.  Many people seek these relics after a milestone, succeeding the horse’s death, or as a gift.  This is when people turn to artists.

Artists play a noteworthy role in a horse’s remembrance, whether this is achieved through a pencil drawing, painting, sculpture, jewelry item, or photograph. The art serves as a cherished memoir to display.

As an artist myself, I have drawn innumerable horses, each with a unique backstory. Since I know I’m not alone in the subindustry of horse artists, I interviewed three exceptionally gifted artists who deserve a spotlight for their special contribution to the equine industry.

Danielle Long

The owner of Attention to Detail Designs, Danielle, who began drawing when she was a child, has always filled her notebooks at school with doodles.  She attended Auburn University where she was a member of the equestrian team and received a degree in Fine Arts.

After she finished college, Danielle started accepting people’s requests for her to draw from photos for them.  This quickly turned into her business today, which specializes in photography, videography, and fine art.  

As artists, we become fully invested in our work, making it a fulfilling creation. For Danielle, the most fulfilling aspect of her art is the client’s reaction when they see the finished work. She loves that she can play a role in cherishing a beloved part of someone’s life. Danielle further explains that she believes people turn to her for a drawing to emphasize and capitalize on a specific, meaningful moment.

Since we do become so invested in our work, our pieces can be emotional. Danielle explains that the most sentimental piece she created was a drawing of Not Just Anyhoo, aka “Horton,” for owner Rebekah Kazakevicius.  She made the drawing after the untimely death of Horton following his 17th Congress Champion title.  

Denise Gordon

Owner of Drawings by Denise, Gordon has been drawing and painting her whole life, although it does not consistently prioritize.  After she sold her mares to North Farm in 2009, she missed horses, so she began painting in 2010 as a means of relaxation. 

Her most emotional piece was the painting she created of Invitation Only for Debbi Trubee, whom she worked closely with to fully capture her artwork’s legendary horse.  

Denise explains that she loves watching her art unfold before her as she completes it.  She always begins her piece with the horse’s eye so that they are “with her” during her work.  She pays attention to the smallest details and loves the reaction it evokes from people when they see the finished product.  To her, their response never gets old.

Shelly Presley

As the owner of Shelly Presley Gallery and Custom Portraits, Presley has been drawing horses her entire life, often on anything she could.  She began to take her art more seriously 5 years ago when she started a tradition called “lunchbreak art,” where she would draw during her hour break at work as a means of relaxation.  She now specializes in oil paintings.

Shelly explains that the most fulfilling aspect of painting people’s horses for them is that she “immortalizes a person’s beloved friend for them.”  She works hard to capture the kindness and spirit that made them so special.  She further explains that her paintings’ eye is critical because they are the window to the soul.

Her most beloved piece was titled “His Majesty,” a painting of her horse that she donated to NSBA last year.  

She believes people come to her to paint their horses as a way to immortalize their loved ones.  She discusses with the client what color palette they envision, what discipline they do with the horse and more, so that she can fully understand the horse she is painting.

Emily Ambrose

Just like the others, I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil.  In first grade, I drew cartoon horses with peanut-shaped heads on every paper. In third grade, I began tracing every horse in a huge “breeds of horses” book I had.  I began selling my artwork in 2016 as a Junior in high school and recently named my business Dera Artistry to give my work an official title.

I draw every day, most often horses, but I always spend a day every so often doing creative, random art with various mediums. 

The most fulfilling part of drawing people’s horses is the priceless reaction. Often, I do not get to see the reaction in person since I ship the drawing to them. Still, I have received videos of people’s reactions and always receive sincere messages of excitement and gratitude when they see the finished product.

The most critical element for me to draw is also the horse’s eye. Their eye captures their pure essence and is so important in recognition of the horse. 

I get emotionally invested in every drawing I do, especially the longer it takes to draw, or if I know the horse or owner.  Parting with the drawing is often devastating to me, yet bittersweet because I know it will be going to a loving home. 

Artists have such a special role in the horse industry, and we are all extremely grateful for the fabulous clients who come to us, each hoping for an extraordinary relic to commemorate their beloved friend. Trust me when I say that we each fall in love with your horse as well.

Emily Ambrose is a 21-year-old Senior at Kent State University and is studying Advertising and Marketing.  She has avidly shown the quarter horse circuit since 2014, under the guidance of Seth and Amber Clark.  Emily currently owns her palomino, Super Yellow Doc, who she shows in Ranch Riding, Showmanship, and Horsemanship.