Leah Collected is my newest work. In process for several months it is finally delivered. The subject is a bay-colored Morgan horse and several times over Grand National Champion in Dressage, sometimes known as horse ballet. Dressage has several levels and standards required in competition where the highest level of skill, intelligence, strength, and difficulty is known as Collection. So at the peak of her career Leah was a dressage master of being collected.
Notice Leah’s characteristic bay coloring of brown body with soft black nose, legs black at the bottom, black mane, ears outlined in black. Her ears are pricked forward now as she gallops her way through the water ahead but in a moment they’ll move back to listen intently to her rider.
At 28 years of age Leah is finally retired. She has some health issues but is just as sweet of disposition and intelligent as ever. Her caring owners stopped riding her last year. This scene in the river really happened and it’s the way Leah’s family wants to remember her — running freely, full of life, soaked with the joy of plunging headlong into river water with her best friend — a permanent, tangible memory of this very special horse.
A personal footnote: My life doesn’t leave much time for the care and feeding of livestock. We have a lovely philosopher cat who lives inside with us and a dozen big goldfish in the summers that get transferred to a deep year ‘round pond each fall. Our one indulgence is a small airplane named Fire Horse, so in that sense we do have a horse with wings! Leah is the fourth real horse I’ve painted in 2012 and I learned a great deal in several conversations with her owner, about horse ballet, about horses in general, and about this lovely girl in particular. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process and the challenge of it, but especially exploring the way the human heart can fall completely in love with a horse. Thank you for that, Leah, and to your family who loves you so much!