How To Draw a Horse / by Mary Jennings

If you've arrived to this page to find simple steps needed in order to render a horse properly, you're in for a great treat. 

To be clear, I am using the term DRAW in a way that will draw your attention to the day I was able to draw a horse physically closer to me without the use of tools, supports or force. This incredible experience was orchestrated as a collaboration between Sheryl Jordan, the Director of the Equestrian Center at the Salamander Resort and Spa, and myself as the Salamander's Artist in Residence. I truly wanted to experience the horse on a whole new level in order to better teach my art students to be better and drawing or rendering a horse using art supplies. 

As I teach my art classes at the Salamander using the room inside the Equestrian Center, I have made close friendships with the staff, but have remained distant with the four legged staff, the stable FULL of stunning horses. This was in part because I wanted to respect the horses space, but also because I respected their presence so much that I was overwhelmed and almost intimidated by their beauty. 

mutual admiration Collaboration

At the end of a busy day at the Equestrian Center, Sheryl and her wonderful team discussing final details of closing. Sheryl with paintbrush in hand, was discovering some beginning art techniques. 

At the end of a busy day at the Equestrian Center, Sheryl and her wonderful team discussing final details of closing. Sheryl with paintbrush in hand, was discovering some beginning art techniques. 

One day, Sheryl and I had a conversation about our mutual admiration for each other and our chosen vocation. We decided to share our skills and experience with one anther. My desire was to REALLY get to know the horses better and Sheryl's was to learn more about how to make art and use the supplies. To follow is an attempt to share the beauty of this collaboration. It goes deeper that the hours spent exchanging information. We are both women who share our passion and expertise in order to grow better at what we love. I'm certain this will grow into something for all to experience.  

If you've put it on social media, it must be fact. Yep, I flooded my Facebook status with carefully styled photos of art supplies and the status that reflected my child-like excitement at learning about horses and guiding a friend through her first private art lesson.

That's only half of the story. Sheryl and I both give our all towards providing a welcoming and safe environment for the guests and visitors of the Salamander Resort and Spa to experience the fullness of rest, rejuvenation and even restoration. In my opinion, the efforts by the staff and workers at the resort to make it this a healing space is a quiet yet powerful undercurrent possessed by the resort and is what makes it so unique.

The heart and desire we share towards growing better, beyond our profession, to serve our ultimate purpose better is truly behind the two of us collaborating in this way. 

In The Beginning...There Was Intention

EquiSpective™ (Equi for horse (equus) and Spective for introspective experience with the horse) a program that Sheryl established after sensing that the process behind natural horsemanship was the most intuitive way to communicate with the horse.

Sheryl goes on to say, "When we communicate with the horse, I have found that my communication and their understanding is more effective when I start with intention (which is almost telepathy) and then the projection of my energy and then action. We can manage our energy and that is powerful. The benefit of managing your energy is that you can control your space and and action towards a desired, positive outcome."

I commented that I use some of these methods, almost intuitively, when I teach art with my students. Whether I have a class of two or twenty, I am able to address each student personally, minute to minute. 

It was the perfect day for us. Quiet work schedules and overcast sky with a slight breeze. Sheryl walked Whisky to the training ring and we quietly sat together outside the ring to discuss intention. Sheryl taught me about the nature of the horse and how my intention was key to how the horse would respond to my direction. We settled ourselves and worked on our posture, all important steps to be organized before approaching the horse in the ring. To be confident and assertive meant more than pulling or tugging at the horse; it was all about and internal intention and then onto the energy that puts in the horse in motion. 

Sheryl explained something important to keep in mind. The horse wants to connect with us, but they are also checking everything around and about us constantly. They want to make sure we are not a threat to them and they also want to get clear direction from the signals you are sending, both verbal and non-verbal. Sheryl had me sit for a moment in complete silence to allow me to hyper-focus on all of my surroundings to help put me in a mindset similar to what the horse was experiencing in order to better approach the horse in the ring.  

Energy and action With a Splash of Color

Once Sheryl demonstrated perfectly how to invite Whiskey to come to her and follow her, or trot ahead of her with simple changes of her energy. When I entered the ring with my intention and posture in check and I looked at Whiskey and, without using words, I led my new, beautiful friend around the ring. When I decided to stop, Whiskey stopped. I was so amazed and pleased! The next direction required an energy shift on my part. I was to prompt Whiskey to walk in front of me a bit and move around the ring. I wasn't quite getting my signals clear and Whiskey just stood there waiting. 

This is when Sheryl gave me the direction to think of a color in order to communicate to Whiskey to move forward and one to make him come to me. I thought of a bright warm orange as my move away color and a ultraviolet blue for my draw near to me color. It worked! I could visualize what I wanted the horse to do by using color to set my mind on the task. 

I have never been so close and emotionally connected to a horse before. This was such an incredible experience! I truly feel like I have learned more about the horse than even studying it's detailed anatomy might provide. I feel connected to the subtle, almost unseen changes of this majestic being. Sheryl was so gracious with her time and instruction. This is the beginning of a long and wonderful friendship and future collaboration.

As we made our way back to the Equestrian Center after saying, "until next time" to Whiskey as he set off to join his good friends in the paddock for the night, Sheryl and I set our intentions towards revealing her artist within. We knew this next part would ignite so much potential for how our passions could be shared and experienced fully by others in the near future. 

What's next?

It was almost seamless for me to lead art instruction after experiencing EquiSpective™. I used some of the terms and processes implemented (intention, energy and action) during EquiSpective™ to direct Sheryl with her art. At first, I wanted to see her natural mark making. We used some basic, traditional drawing tools on newsprint. I enlightened her about some of her natural and intuitive, artistic style. We then carried out an activity that challenged those built in habits and opened up new methods of not only making marks but making colors and then on to making a statement with the art. Sheryl blew me away at how easily she took to creating art. Time flew past as we experimented with tools and captured some wonderful narratives on paper and canvas. 

You can count on us collaborating in the future to bring this remarkable, invigorating, restorative experience to others. Our experiment of combining EquiSpective™ and art was almost too rich of an experience to put into words. The potential for growth and healing from this experience is quite sizable. We're both very excited. 

If you have been inspired or think this type of programing would be useful, please share your thoughts. Your part in the collaboration is very much invited.