Three Chimneys Presents Good News Friday: Four-Legged Artists

by | 12.06.2013 | 10:17am
A.P. Indy, seen here painting a "Moneigh," has also proven an artist when it comes to producing winners and sires of winners

If you were priced out of Keeneland's recent sporting art auction (the sales from which totaled over $3.1 million), supporters of ReRun are hoping that you might add to your art collection during their upcoming Moneigh auction.

The paintings, each done and “autographed” by notable racehorses or breeding stock, have been increasingly popular since their origin 11 years ago. Organizer Mary Simons estimates that she's supervised the creation of 1,200 paintings, including works by 14 of the last 19 Derby winners. Proceeds from the sale of all the paintings support ReRun's mission to rescue and rehome Thoroughbreds off the track.

Simons said that ReRun directors got the idea for the project at a charity event for the Lexington Humane Society in central Kentucky, which was selling artwork painted by its cats and dogs. She guesses that the organization had been inspired by the paintings done by elephants to raise money for conservation and the ReRun crew wondered—would horses do the same thing?

As it turned out, horses will not only consent to get creative with the non-toxic children's paints Simons provides, but like human artists, they have very individual styles.

Some horses use their tongues to paint. Others like to use the end of their muzzle and whiskers, producing a firecracker pattern. Still others smear the paint with their whole face. The shy artists who don't like having anything on their faces will use their tails.

And then there's Empire Maker.

“Empire Maker took to it right away. He picked up the brush,” she recalled. “It was like he'd done it all his life. He'd never seen us before, he'd never seen paint before [but] he just went town and did three or four paintings with the brush. Even his groom looked at him like he couldn't believe it.”

Shackleford poses with his finished Moneigh

Shackleford poses with his finished Moneigh

Originally the horses chose their own colors, but those who preferred the ‘smear method' of application came out with a muddy brown paper. Now, Simons offers them a few shades that match their silk colors.

Some horses need to catch a whiff of a well-placed peppermint or carrot to become tempted to stretch their noses out to the paint. (Groovy preferred donuts.) The aloof Skip Away wasn't permitted to have treats and could not be enticed to give it a try.

Congaree, by contrast, is a very motivated artist, or as Simons puts it, “a painting fool,” and usually insisted on covering every inch of the paper with paint.

Magna Graduate was also especially proud of this work.

“At the end, he took the paper and held it up,” said Simons. “Like, ‘See what I did!'”

Cigar may be the most unique of the artists she's witnessed, though.

“I think Cigar is probably the most outstanding. That horse is so smart,” she said. “He would hold the brush and paint a few strokes, and then he'd look around to see who was watching. And then he'd take the brush and flip it at them. We used to just laugh at him because he knew what he was doing. He knew.”

For Simons, who has been a longtime race fan and volunteers with several aftercare charities, the project has enabled her to get to know some of the sport's biggest stars in a way that most of the public can't—and for that she is grateful.

She has tried to video several of the artists in action to capture their unique personalities, but true to their nature, the horses tend to clam up as soon as the camera is rolling.

Each horse autographs their work with a hoofprint, which Simons says is authentic. She has to hold their hooves up and paint the bottoms before guiding them to stamp the paper. Enthusiastic artists will sometimes stamp their work several times.

The most recent set of Moneigh paintings went on sale Nov. 25 and featured prominent sires and their sons, including A.P. Indy, Mineshaft, (who created a serene, “underwater” type painting), Dialed In, Awesome Again, Ghostzapper, Tiznow, Gemologist, Orb, Distorted Humor, and Funny Cide. A second week-long auction will launch on Sunday, Dec. 8 and will include Storm Cat's last Moneigh and those of his progeny (including Wise Dan, who is Storm Cat's great-grandson). Some of the paintings are also autographed by the jockeys who piloted the artists on the track.

ReRun hosts their Moneigh auctions through their eBay store, which is accessible here.

  • debbie watson

    Great story, and Mary is amazing. We have had her come out and do Moneigh’s with our filly and mare in our silks colors for a donation to ReRun. She even went out of her eay to met us at the airport with our Moneighs all ready to go! ReRun, like many horse rescue / retraining organizations, is a terrific organization which needs continued support.

  • Auntie Judy aka JAG

    I know Moneigh Mary and she is a doll! I purchased one of the last Moneighs painted by the legendary John Henry!

    • Debra Luttjohann

      ReRun is fortunate to have many volunteers that make it such a successful charity. The Moneigh division has many volunteers in several states, Kim, Caroline, Rebecca, Joanne and Kathy (photographer) and Debi work with Mary in Kentucky…this is just a few who have been doing the Moneigh that we are auctioning on e-Bay.

  • Kim Brewer, DVM

    The Moneigh for ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption program is great- the artwork is fabulous and you help out a great charity. There are paintings available right now on ebay in the ReRun store. click on link above or search moneigh rerun ebay. The proceeds help find horses new homes off the track

  • tbpartner43

    Surprised there is no mention of the most famous painting TB horse of all…. Metro Meteor. And he was a good race horse. Check him out of Face Book.

    • warhorse warrior

      Metro came way after Moneighs, he’s just an new spin on what was an orignal idea by Mary Simons

      • tbpartner43

        Thanks for the info…. he’s still pretty awesome and so are the Moneighs.

      • Quilla

        Metro paints with a brush. His artist/owner took advantage of Metro’s natural head bobbing and put a paint brush in his mouth. Metro’s colorful modern art sells on Etsy and 50% of the price is donated to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program.

        All horse artists should be celebrated. :)

        • azeri1

          Metro supports New Vocations and also his own vet bills for his innovative Tildren treatments for his right knee that keep him from going lame. He not only supports the arts but cutting edge veterinary treatments that he is undergoing will make life better for countless numbers of horses. Additionally Metro’s efforts support conservation and product reuse by using recycled materials in their finished artisan products. He designs are used to create wall panels, tote bags and decorative throw pillows. Here’s to giving old materials and racehorses new lives!

          The Moneigh program really gives back too and who wouldn’t want an A.P.Indy hanging on their wall. I know I would! Rerun has created a great partnership so that they can continue to help our retired racers!

  • Jeanne Marie Mirabito

    Mary is amazing but she did not create the Moneigh fundraiser. Mary contacted me to alert me to the error in this article giving her credit.
    The idea behind getting horses to paint came from Shon Wylie and Lori Neagle, co founders of ReRun. At the time I owned the great Our Mims, 1977 three year old filly champion. Shon called me and asked if I thought I could teach a horse to paint. Giving how extremely intelligent Our Mims was, I agreed to try. I researched safe paints and took my challenge to
    the barn.
    With my daughter, Cassidy’s help, Our Mims and I created the very first Moneigh. We worked for several weeks trying out different techniques (for horses who were maybe not as smart as
    Mims) and taught the folks at ReRun how to get almost any horse to paint.
    Mary, as wonderful as she is, came on the Moneigh scene much later.
    Since that first day in the barn, we have shared our techniques and know-how with many horse rescue/sanctuary organizations. They, in turn, have shared with many more. It’s a wonderful and fun way to raise money. At OUR MIMS RETIREMENT HAVEN we call the art
    MARE-STERPIECES and still use the exact same method that Our Mims most
    I rejoice every time I see horse art because I know this is yet another indelible hoof print left by the wonderful Our Mims for horse rescue’s everywhere.

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