The horses are going (but with your help they can return)

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

“Horses I First Loved” is located at FENCE (photo by Tracy Hanson)

“Horses I First Loved” is located at FENCE (photo by Tracy Hanson)

Our Foothills community has been adorned with 16 life-size fiberglass works of art since late spring but soon, these horses will be removed. Beginning August 10, in preparation for the final leg of the Art of the Horse, all horses will be taken from their current locations.

On Saturday, August 13, all 16 horses will begin their final week in the Foothills community. The horses will be displayed “en masse” during Tryon International Equestrian Center’s first Saturday Night Lights of the fall season. Saturday Night Lights is a free event that is open to the public and all are encouraged to attend.

During this evening, artists and sponsors will be on hand to answer questions about their horses, take photos with community members and share a bit about themselves and their motivations for getting involved in this community arts project.

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Please take time to tell the sponsors and the artists how much these sculptures have meant to you. We will also have awards that will be given based on the community “votes” so make sure to take the time to let us know about your favorite horses by voting for them during Saturday Night Lights.

Art of the Horse is a 16-month arts project and fundraising campaign that is now in its final month. As part of Our Carolina Foothills, a local 501(c)3 organized to educate the public on the small towns in the Carolina Foothills (Landrum, Tryon, Columbus and Saluda) through events and campaigns that attract tourists,  Art of the Horse has created excitement in our towns and raised awareness to local businesses from community members such as Paul Haynes and Lois Tessneer.

Paul Haynes, a multi-generational native to the Foothills surpassed the norm by visiting each horse and by photo cataloguing each one. He says, “I have photographed the bears in Hendersonville for years. This was like a scavenger hunt and gave me a chance to see more of the area that I am from. I also found places that I never knew about like the winery, Overmountain Vineyards, and FENCE. At times the hunt was frustrating as well. The horse at FENCE was the last one I found. After about four trips, I accomplished my goal of finding all 16 horses. It was a fun challenge for me. I do not have GPS so the map was a huge help.”

Lois Tessneer wrote to us via Facebook saying, “Thank you very much. Lots of fun. Nice to see these small communities come together to accomplish this horse project in our beautiful countryside to share with everyone. My favorite? Horses I First Loved.”

Luckily for Lois, due to a generous donation, FENCE will be keeping their horse on site permanently. As part of the project, sponsors who originally donated the seed money to get the horses to the artists were also given the option to purchase their horses and bypass the auction block.

Thus far, four horses have been sold and 12 are slated to be put on the auction block.

If you would like to see more horses stay in the community, this is an important time to reach out to groups and let them know how much you’ve enjoyed this project.

There are many ways that a horse can stay in the community. A private individual can buy the horse, a group of individuals or businesses can team up, or town members can pitch in a small stipend. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds of each horse sold goes directly to the artist. The remainder of the funds will go back into Our Carolina Foothills marketing and event budget to further promote the towns of Landrum, Tryon, Columbus and Saluda.

The auction on August 19 begins promptly at 8 p.m. at the Equestrian Center and will be held in the large tent. Tickets for the auction gala dinner are currently on sale at Eventbrite or contact Suzanne Strickland at 828-817-1079.

Others wishing to attend just for the auction are encouraged, as entrance is free, based on first come, first serve basis. All persons wishing to bid must be registered prior to the auction start. Volunteers and board members will be on site beginning at 6:30 p.m. to register auction bidders. In absence, sealed bids will also be accepted prior to the auction. Contact Carol Browning at for all auction questions.

– article submitted by Mindy Wiener