© 2022 WEKU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Help WEKU raise the final $15,000 to close out our fiscal year by Thursday at 5 p.m. Click here to make your gift!

Lot of horsing around at the Henry Clay estate

Kathy Johnson

Brilliantly decorated fiberglass horses are finding their new homes, positioned around the city of Lexington this week. It’s horse mania three, following similar public displays in 2000 and 2010. A large group of people including families with young children traveled along a mulched trail at the one-time home of Henry Clay. There were more than 150 painted horses along the way. LexArts CEO Ame Sweetall. “This year 2022 is the LexArts anniversary and with Breeders coming back in the same year we thought, we can not do this. We have to bring the horses back and really adorn our city with just this majestic beauty for everyone,” said Sweetall.

There’s something behind nearly every one of the multicolored life-sized horses. “Amazing April” has a story. She's named for April Nease, who died of breast cancer last November. Di Boyer says 125 friends raised money to purchase the horse. Boyer said many members of Nease’s family and friends painted jockey silks which are a part of the horse.


“This is all April’s favorite things and, if you look closely, she wanted her earrings and even her eyelashes are on Amazing April. It has a real horseshoe from Keeneland that we glittered because she was all things leopard and glitter and pink was her color, so this was truly a labor of love,” said Boyer.

Boyer says Amazing April will be permanently on display in the St. Joseph Cancer Center in her best friend’s honor.

“Horse Hero Home” is another work of art. It’s funded by American Freedom Distillery, a company founded by military veterans. Artist and doctor Sylvia Cerel Suhl said part of the veterans’ story is found on the horse.

“These fellas who were in the special forces training on this the Cumberland River down in Somerset, crossing the belly of my horse. All 12 of them were sent five weeks after Sept 11th into Afghanistan, imbedded with warlords to take over a Taliban fort. And they did in mere weeks what the army thought would take them years,” said Cerel-Suhl.


Cerel-Suhl said ground is being broken this week for a veteran-affiliated complex at Lake Cumberland that will include a wedding chapel, concert venue, distillery, and 80 cabins.

Natacha Feola Quintanilla wasn’t successful in getting a spot in a previous horse mania, but this time she has two painted horses. Feola-Quintanilla says it’s a combination of art and science. One detailed the step-by-step process for producing bourbon. The other tells a completely different story.

“And then this one is gonna have the, he’s gonna glow in the dark. He’s called Glow Big Blue and he’s going to be standing in bluegrass that glows in the dark. And then he’s also gonna get dark in the light with some UV pigments,” said Feola Quintanilla.


Feola-Quintanilla said she’s not using glow-in-the-dark paint, but new on-the-market pigments.

There were many painted foals at Ashland this past weekend. Many schools participated in horse mania. Eight-year-old Laura Wood described how her classmates made their mark on the Cassidy Elementary entry.

“Yeah, it’s black with hearts and our thumbprints, all of our thumbprints on it,” said Wood.

Over at Russell Cave Elementary, Assistant Principal Marci Casey said “The Dawn” included a split design. One side was designed by a fifth-grader.


“And she made it to look like the sunrise that we see from Russell Cave every morning. We’re one of the district’s best-kept secrets and we’re way outside Iron Works Pike and we look across at the horse farms and see this beautiful sunrise every morning,” said Casey.

The other side of the foal is designed to represent the Day of the Dead celebration. Casey says Russell Cave’s student population is about three-quarters Hispanic.

And at the high school level, Elaine Wedding participated in the design of the cultural tapestry theme. She put in some 90 hours working on the horse plus some time at home.

Kathy Johnson

“And I called my mom and said ‘Can I take the horse home? And she was like, ‘most kids when they ask to take home the class pet, it’s like a gerbil. But I had this big six-foot-tall horse in my living room for a weekend,” said Wedding.

Wedding said the horse represents the top six demographics at Tates Creek High School: African, Appalachia, Central America, Mexico, East Asia, and Middle Eastern. Students from these areas were asked if the design resonated with them. Wedding said the answer was overwhelmingly yes. The 160-painted horse in this round of horse mania will stand their ground at sites all over Lexington through the end of November and then be auctioned off in December.

If you appreciate access to this important content during this global pandemic, please help us continue to provide public service journalism and information to Central and Eastern Kentucky communities.