Thanks to this great video from Etsy, I began thinking about the story behind Painting Pony , and how it came to be that on a small family farm in Pennsylvania there lives a couple of magical painting Chincoteague Ponies and their silly little Dachshund sidekick.
The story behind Painting Pony started years before the first paintbrush was ever put to canvas…..
It was 2002, and after just graduating high school I was about to take on a “project pony” from a friend. His name was Chincoteague Minnow, and all I knew about him was that he was born as a wild pony on Assateague Island and had since been bounced around between many homes for the past 10 years. At one point in his life he had been neglected, and he was now slowly on the road to recovery.
Chincoteague Ponies conjured up images of the famous Misty of Chincoteague, mystical wild ponies, and the magical love that little girls everywhere shared for them. Only the pony that came to live with me seemed to only be able to channel his inner WILD pony, with a fear of almost everything, and an inability to trust me. I spent years working with Minnow in the hopes of developing the kind of relationship with him that I had always dreamed of.
In 2004, on the verge of giving up hope, I discovered a book on how to teach your horse tricks. That winter I taught Minnow his very first trick, to give me a kiss. Things began to change, and Minnow began to look forward to my daily visits to the farm. Our relationship began to evolve, and I decided to take him to college with me that year.
Three years passed, and by the time I was graduating college I was looking at a completely different pony. My special Chincoteague Pony now shared an amazing bond with me, and we were able to communicate with each other in a way I never thought possible. In the winter of 2007 I decided to see if Minnow could learn to paint. I was a fine arts major in college, and thought it might be fun if my pony could make me a picture.
After lugging out an easel and some brushes to the farm, I handed Minnow one with paint and waited to see what he would do. His first stroke was magical and each one there after made me smile bigger and bigger. Sometimes he jabbed at the canvas, sometimes he made long swooping strokes – each one unique in it’s own way. As his masterpieces began to pile higher and higher I was running out of places to put them.
Soon I realized that Minnow had an amazing talented that he needed to share with the World. His paintings were so much more than abstract pieces of art, they had a story to tell. A story about how a little pony could overcome his fears and become something amazing. With each sale of his paintings I began to donate money to charities, in particular the Chincoteague Pony Association – which helped to care for and maintain the wild herds of ponies on Assateague Island – and Minnow’s ancestors. Over the years Painting Pony began to grow into something even bigger than Minnow and I.
With Minnow entering into his retirement years due to arthritis, two more amazing Chincoteague Ponies (Boomerang and Blitz) were added to our small family herd. Minnow took on the role of elder, and took the young boys under his wing. He has since passed on his painting talents to them, and continues to be an inspiration to them on a daily basis. Ammo the Dachshund entered our family in 2008, and quickly struck up an amazing friendship with Minnow. Never before have I seen a pony give a dachshund belly rubs.
Every time I see a child watch the ponies paint I am reminded of how I felt that first day when Minnow made his first brush stroke. A child’s smile is contagious – and there is nothing better than watching the twinkle in the ponies’ eyes when they realize they have made someone happy.
Painting Pony is about happiness and joy, and experiencing the magic of ponies. And if we can make you smile, then that’s all that matters.