All the Pretty Horses

I put off trying to paint horse pots for years. I said I didn't know how to draw them, I wasn't familiar with them, we didn't have horses on the farm when I was growing up.

Not that we didn't ask. We asked, we begged, we pleaded for a horse. We pointed out that we already grew hay and oats, that we could use it to round up cows for milking, that there were even three stalls in the barn that had originally been for horses. Dad was unmoved. He must have really hated horses, we thought.

I didn't figure out the truth until years later. Dad grew up farming with horses, didn't have his first tractor (a chopped Model T Ford) until after World War II. He'd loved his horses, groomed them and brushed them and tied ribbons in their manes and tails just to hitch them up to the manure spreader. He loved to tell stories about his favorite teams, when I was grown up enough to shut up and listen. He must have missed having them terribly, but when you're on a very small farm, with six kids to feed, having those extra stalls for milk cows (and extra fodder to feed them) makes a difference.

I finally learned to draw horses from pictures, and visits to the fair. My horses run across plates, bowls, stew mugs, pie dishes and casseroles and bakers, pitchers, teapots and cookie jars. They probably have more in common with western mustangs than Dad's Belgians, but I think he'd have liked them regardless.