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Equine artist Karen Brenner's 2009-2010 series of paintings featured horses from Pennsylvania.

Nominations were accepted for the project from January 1 - March 31, 2009. Over 90 horses were nominated. Thanks to the unique mix of nominations, many of the horses were located in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, meaning Karen was able to expand the number of horses accepted into the project from her anticipated 20-25 to 50!

Karen traveled throughout Pennsylvania during June 2009 to photograph selected horses.

The "Beautiful Horses of Pennsylvania" series includes a painting of each selected horse. All the completed paintings were part of the "Beautiful Horses of Pennsylvania " exhibit in Allentown, Pa in April 2010.


Cierra La Creme
18" x 14"

Cierra La Creme is a Quarter Horse/Arabian cross nicknamed Barbie. The reason for her nickname is very clear when you meet her! She's a beautiful blond just like the famous doll.

Jennifer's mom, Julie, nominated Barbie for the Beautiful Horses of Pennsylvania project. Here's her story:

"What first attracted our daughter Jennifer to Cierra La Creme (also known as Barbie) was Barbie's striking beauty. Jennifer was looking for a slender, english--looking horse to use for 4H. Having very recently lost her beloved Arabian mare, Ruby, it was an emotional and difficult search for a new horse. When Jennifer saw Barbie it seemed to be love at first sight. Barbie is a 4 year old palomino quarter horse/Arab cross, with a deep golden body and beautiful flowing blond mane and tail. Her mane is nearly 18 inches long! She looks like a 'Barbie-doll horse,' which is how she got her name.

"It didn't take Jenn long to decide that this was the horse for her. Barbie was green-broke when we got her, but she had a calm temperament and was the friendliest horse we have ever met! Working with a young horse proved to be a challenge (Ruby was 28 when we lost her), and some days it seemed that things were never going to click between Jenn and Barbie. I believe that it was bittersweet for Jenn; she wanted so badly to have another Ruby but was quickly realizing that was not going to happen.

"But through Jenn's persistence and determination, she and Barbie have become a wonderful team, and I think they are destined for a great future together."

Barbie and Jennifer

18" x 14"

Just one painting with Shana's mini Spongebob is never enough! He's just so cute! Here he's proving the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.



12" x 12"

Token is your not your ordinary Quarter Horse. He's a special Quarter Horse. Sure he has those classic Quarter Horse good looks that all the other breeds envy, but he's much more than good looking. Token belongs to Kathleen's son Bret, and Kathleen nominated Token for the Beautiful Horses of Pennsylvania because he is an extraordinary horse.

Here's what Kathleen wrote:

"My son has been riding since he was two years old (with me of course). The first horse we had was a mare, very tame and great with kids. She died one terrible October day and neither of us could go into the barn for a long time.

"I never thought we would find another horse like her. My sister and mother saw an advertisement in the paper for a horse for sale and encouraged me to go look at it. We did and although he was a bit smaller than what I was looking for or used to, Token fit the bill. My niece was also with us and she rode him first, then I jumped on to see if Token would ride double. Amazingly he did and was so gentle we couldn't believe it.

"Why this is so important is because my son has autism. We needed a special horse for him to be independent. We needed a horse that could trail ride so my son could ride with his cousins in a natural and fun manner.

"Token has been a blessing to all of us. Although he is hard to catch, he is a great ride and a great horse for any kid, but especially for my son. My son Bret is now sixteen and this horse has allowed him to have a very normal life on the farm. As you know, it is a rare find for a horse this gentle!"

Bret is so fortunate to have not only Token, but a mother like Kathleen, and a spacious country setting in which to enjoy riding! This painting of Token has one of my favorite backgrounds -- tall meadow grass blowing gently in the breeze and a lovely shade tree to give respite on those hot Pennsylvania summer days.


16" x 16"

Jeremiah is an Irish Sport Horse that could jump over me if I duck down just a little! And I'm pretty tall. He and his owner Priscilla have cleared a fence set at 5'3" in competition!

They are a pretty famous duo! Soon after Jeremiah and Priscilla paired up in 2007, they won the Marshall & Sterling/North American League/ Washington International Classic and 14 more classics that year. They placed 5th that year in overall points and went on to compete in the Devon Horse Show in 2008.

Speaking of the Devon Horse Show, here's a video of Priscilla and Jeremiah competing in the 2009 event.

Priscilla wrote about finding Jeremiah:

"I was looking for a horse to help give me experience in the jumper classes and he was my recommendation. When I got to the farm where he had recently arrived, I was told he had been used in a few lessons, but basically he was not sellable, and no one who looked at him wanted him. He had really bad side bone and didn't even want walk sound. He had fullness in his front legs and really was miserable looking, but from the moment I saw him I wanted him. From that day I knew he needed to be mine. My trainer told me no and that no one should pay money for him, he needed to be a given away and even then the people would be lucky to find a home for him.

"So a week after I got him we started fixing his legs up. My trainer is old school and has all these strange pastes and wraps that he put on the horse and we got him relatively sound. May 2007 was my first show on him; I had him now for two weeks. His attitude and personality started changing for the better every day.

"He was not used to being outside or in the grass so when I turned him out in a field at home he had no idea what to do! After a few days he would run around the field and loved playing with a little pony I put out with him."

That was right before they won all those classics in '07.

Priscilla later found out that Jeremiah had been transported from Florida right before she got him, and during the trailer ride north he'd managed to flip over in the trailer and he had broken his tail.

Priscilla concluded, "He was a horse that no one wanted and now people know me because of him!"

And they've been competing together ever since!

Jeremiah was such an interesting horse. So calm to be such a great jumper! And I was dazzled by the super-size bit he wore. Priscilla told me her trainer had used with much success, and now was letting Priscilla use it. The large size rings enable the rider to turn the horse's whole head by controlling the check bones.


Priscilla and Jeremiah

12" x 24"

Scarlet is Sherry's "other horse." You may recall the painting of Tsornin, earlier in the series. Well, Scarlet (RF Scarlet Rohara) is Tsornin's mother!

As I read Sherry's nomination of Scarlet, I immediately know this mare had to be part of the series: "Scarlet believes that she should be included in this series because according to her she IS the most beautiful horse in the world and it's about time everybody else realized it. Since she never did get that mirror in her stall that she always wanted, a nice painting of herself would be a worthy substitute, especially if it captured her queenly majesty."

Sherry continues, "... and her owner thinks she should be include because she really is a beautiful horse inside and out (although a little self-centered) and she has a super personality that shines through everything."



Shana's Rescues
40" x 12"

Like some people have a passion for collecting shoes, Shana has a passion for rescuing horses. Instead of closet full of footwear, she has a barn full of horses!

I realized Shana had a lot of horses, and loved them all, when she nominated Desert Sun for the Beautiful Horses of Pennsylvania project, followed by her nomination for Spongebob, for Moonlight Dance, for Sleepy Hollow's Stormy, for Reno 911, and for Maple Sugar Candy. Oh, I must not forget, Fancy's My Babygirl. And I'm not certain that included ALL her rescues!

When I arrived to take photographs, Shana's mini Spongebob greeted us at the gate. He was just adorable, and could not wait to show off! He was obviously the king of the pasture, and after Shana rounded up most of her herd and set them free in a huge pasture to run freely for photos, Spongebob was determined to be the leader! This painting shows him strutting his stuff -- and leading the way for two of his buddies.



Shana and more of her rescue horses

April's Midnight Dream Catcher
16" x 16"

April's Midnight Dream Catcher is one amazing horse! If he weren't so big, I'd think he was part puppy because I've never seen such a loving, calm stallion. He is a very special Spotted Draft horse whose spots, April pointed out, almost spell "Victory." You can see the first two letters - V I - in his painting. I'm hoping he brings April in all life's challenges.

It's impossible for me to imagine Dreamer as anything other than sleek and fit, but April's nomination of Dreamer told of a tough start that became a wonderful life for her guy:

"Dreamer is a once in a lifetime horse! He was neglected, starved and abandoned before I 'rescued' him almost 2 years ago. He was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, even back then - a big skinny baby without his front teeth. With loads of love, patience and hard work and nature/maturity of course, today he is a wonderful, loving easy-going, playful BIG boy who has come such a log way wi thout holding even the slightest grudge against anyone and WHAT A LOOKER!

" I had always heard stories about other's experiences finding their 'perfect diamond in the rough.' He IS my perfect dream come true after 17 years of wanting a true-blue friend and companion that I have so intensely bonded with right from the first moment I saw him. I know we are meant to be together for a lifetime and I couldn't have asked for anything more! There isn't a day that goes by that I don't for a moment believe that he was meant for me and I was meant for him! To watch him prance in the pasture would cure anyone's blues and brighten even the darkest skies for he is truly a gentle giant."

Dreamer and April


Black Velvet
18" x 14"

According to Kris, Black Velvet's owner, this gleaming Friesian/Percheron mare is the official greeter for travelers entering Pennsylvania from New York. That's because her pasture is along the board between the two states!

What a lovely greeter!

Kris told me that a friend of hers found Velvet at an auction, and knowing that Kris was interested in Friesians, gave her a call! Kris jumped at the chance to own this beautiful mare, who even without papers clearly depicts the beauty of both breeds.

Black Velvet and Kris

Spirit's All That Jazz
14" x 18"

Spirit's All That Jazz is a super-stylin'-stallion! Registered with TWHBEA, SSHBEA, RHBAA, PSHR, his owner April writes, "Jazz depicts the ideal for all the breeds he is registered with. His gaits are like riding a cloud!"

She continues, "When I looked at purchasing him, I saw the white side. Then they sent me pics of the other side. I didn't realize at first that it was the same horse. He has gait, color, personality and versatility.... He is athletic and a lover."

Jazz and April


Utah, Gus and Friend
21.5" x 18"

John and Carolyn nominated three of their horses, Utah, TTY and Gus--a mustang, a Quarter Horse, and a Racking Horse, respectively. As you can see in their photo below, they had four horses. Why would they leave one horse behind when they were mailing in nominations???? Poor Horse # 4.

All four horses were great! And John (barn name - Dick) volunteered to have them run up and down the long pasture so I could get some action shots! It was so much fun!

For the painting, I chose a pose with just three of the four horses. I know one is Utah, their black mustang who they adopted as an 18 month old from the Bureau of Land Management. Carolyn wrote that Utah is "a representative of a true American legend . . . the free spirit Mustang."

The second horse in the painting is Gus, a cross between a Rocky Mountain and Tennessee Walker. This strawberry roan gelding is a super trail horse.

The third horse in the painting is (maybe) Ty, or maybe his the mystery horse #4. Seems like I left one horse behind too.

The Whole Gang


See more paintings in the
Beautiful Horse
of Pennsylvania


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Draft Horses
Gaited Horses
Gypsy Horses
Morgan Horses
Pintos & Paints
Quarter Horses
Western Horses
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