Fleabitten grey is a color that’s been kicking around in the back of my mind for quite a while now. I’ve never done one before, and originally wanted to try it out on Breyer’s Yasmin mold now that they’ve released the sculpture to the general public as a portrait of “Integrity” the endurance champion.
What first caught my eye about that Arab is that he doesn’t look like a typical halter Arab, with the excessively dished face, long snakey neck, and skinny little body that I’m afraid would break if I actually got on its back. No. This is an endurance Arab. He’s got some substance to him! And his nose looks like he can actually breathe through it, so that helps me like the sculpture a lot more. (Apologies to those that like the super-modern halter Arabian look – you’re 100% allowed to have your opinion, and I can see how they’re considered beautiful because they can be quite elegant looking, but personally, they scare me because they look so dainty and fragile.)
Part of the reason I’m so against the type of conformation that wins Arabian halter shows these days is because I used to endurance race, and I’m not sure an animal like that could be competitive – or even safe – in a 25+ mile race. Granted, I rode a 26-year-old Quarter Horse to my first finish, so anything’s possible. But the reason we were able to do what we did is because he was so well put together and we’d trained so hard that summer. That’s a story for another time; the point of this one is that I like the Yasmin sculpture, but will probably have to give it some time before I can find an affordable one on the market for customizing.
So, I moved on. I was able to find a Flash that was in pretty bad shape and needed a new lease on life, so I decided to try my new coat color out on him instead. It took lots of sanding, priming, re-priming, and layer upon layer of pastel work before he was even ready for all the teeny brown and black dots that would over his entire body. As I worked on him, I thought about where the inspiration for him came from.
A few years ago, I got a job guiding horseback rides in South Dakota’s Black Hills. I met a lot of cool people and got to work with a lot of cool animals, including a thoroughbred straight off the track, a green-broke four-year-old, a skittish mustang, a pair of mischievous Fjords, and the coolest draft cross in the entire world (whose name was Tank). In the end, though, my favorite horse was a fleabitten grey mare named Lovey, who was spunky enough to chase buffalo around and always wanted to run. We were pals.
I thought about how awesome it is that there’s so much variety in the horse world, and I’m grateful for the chance I had to experience a lot of it. It was nearly a year and a half ago that Lovey and I were blissfully charging through the Black Hills, but she still remains one of my favorite horses to this day. I didn’t intend to pattern my experimental fleabitten grey after her, and he’s not truly a portrait (for starters, he’s a gelding, not a mare). But I attribute this try to my old friend Lovey – even if I didn’t know that she was my inspiration at first.