“Painted ponies” trek to London for charity auction

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Hat designer David Shilling with his creation, Dippy.
Hat designer David Shilling with his creation, Dippy.

Bidding has opened on the hugely popular painted horse sculptures that featured at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials earlier this year.

The 14 Invisible Horse Sculptures have been designed, adorned and painted by renowned artists and personalities, and each tells the story of a horse rescued by international charity World Horse Welfare.

The online auction closes on November 3 and these bids will be fed into a live auction on November 4 at the BT Tower with auctioneer and racing presenter, Mike Cattermole.

Chinese eventer Alex Hua Tian takes a turn at painting World Horse Welfare's "People's Horse" at Badminton.
Chinese eventer Alex Hua Tian takes a turn at painting World Horse Welfare’s “People’s Horse” at Badminton.

Each horse is a completely original and hand painted design – from the ‘rock-star’ horse Dippy imagined by celebrated hat designer, David Shilling, to the decadent gold leaf of Cambodian working horse Mesor crafted by artist Katie O’Sullivan, the eye-catching florals of Shetland pony Blossom decorated by fashion designer Julian Seaman, and the jockey silk emblazoned youngster Dash created by racehorse trainer Jamie Osborne.

The fibreglass sculptures stand at around 7hh (71cm) high, created from a clay maquette sculpted by Judy Boyt. In addition to sculpting the Badminton Horse Trials trophy, Boyt has exhibited all over the world and her work is held in many private collections from the Royal Family to the Duke of Roxburghe and actress Jane Seymour. To create the maquette, Boyt chose World Horse Welfare Adoption horse May as her muse and live-sculpted her at the charity’s Glenda Spooner Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centre in Somerset.

As part of World Horse Welfare’s Charity of the Year status at Badminton Horse Trials, the completed sculptures were then positioned around the event as The Invisible Horse Trail, with adults and children alike captivated by the quest to find all 14 and complete the trail.

All the artists and designers involved in the Invisible Horse Trail donated their time and creativity free of charge. Money raised from the auction of the horse sculptures will help to support World Horse Welfare in improving the lives of horses in the UK and around the world.

World Horse Welfare Fundraising Director Emma Williams said the idea came about nearly a year ago, and became “a fantastic reality.”

“We will be thrilled to see the horses ‘rehomed’ to be loved and enjoyed by successful bidders in the auction,” she said.

“The response to the horses so far has been overwhelming, with thousands of people enjoying the sculpture trail at Badminton Horse Trials and also at our Glenda Spooner Farm and Penny Farm Rescue and Rehoming Centres where the horses have spent the summer months. This is a great opportunity to own a one-off piece of equestrian art whilst supporting World Horse Welfare’s vital work to help horses across the globe.”

» Visit the online auction site.

Olympic gold medallist Sir Mark Todd collaborated with artist Michelle McCullagh to bring the story of abandoned Thoroughbred horse, Fern to life for World Horse Welfare’s Invisible Horse sculpture trail at Badminton.
Olympic gold medallist Sir Mark Todd collaborated with artist Michelle McCullagh to bring the story of abandoned Thoroughbred horse, Fern to life for World Horse Welfare’s Invisible Horse sculpture trail at Badminton.

What are invisible horses?

World Horse Welfare has named 2016 the year to highlight the world’s invisible horses who often suffer in silence as people either cannot or choose not to see them. From the horses left in barns and stables for weeks on end, to those working many hours every day on the streets of Choluteca in Honduras or Cape Town in South Africa who go unnoticed by governments and policymakers, to the horses transported long distances across borders to uncertain futures and those who sadly are sometimes found too late. World Horse Welfare is focusing on several key themes as the year progresses including; foals, rescue and rehoming, working horses around the world and campaigning to improve laws to protect horses.

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