features - ponies 2
Painted Ponies – From Flies to Relief to Beauty

by Zoe Hatgi

Like all successful ventures, my sensational “Painted Pony Photography” started off as a fun accident. The horse, Pantera, is definitely a trusting soul; I play horse-lacrosse (polocrosse) on her, ridden her backwards, played relay races on her, and even walked her through a busy neighborhood.

My Argentine Thoroughbred mare (adult female) from Florida was having trouble with the Maryland flies and was getting sore feet from stomping them all day.

A trusted friend suggested using poultice, a facial-mask type of paste used to reduce swelling and draw out heat on a horse’s lower legs since they do not have any muscles below their knee. She said apply the paste on thick so the flies couldn’t bite through the skin.

The plan worked, and my horse was no longer foot sore, but my curiosity had only begun to grow. What if I could paint all over her to keep the flies from biting rather than using a mesh sheet which ultimately made her sweaty and less comfortable.

So, of course, I had a horse, the poultice, and a couple hours to just play around with designs and techniques. I love to photograph my horses as well, but I admit they aren’t very interesting to look at unless that’s your thing. I settled on doing a warrior-style design over her face first. She stood patiently, like a model before her photo shoot, and let me do my work. So as the finger-painting was finished, I carefully led her out, trying not to disturb the poultice, and smudge my work. I also painted a circle like the Native Americans did on their war ponies onto my other horse Molly. I turned them out and to my delight, the flies were reluctant to land on my horses!

The functional part worked and on various social media sites I have gotten nearly two thousand hits on Pantera’s photos, and about half that on Molly’s photos. I have shared my popular solution, and even had variations of my designs circulated.

The designs always vary, and the poultice rinses or brushes out after a day or two, and I keep close record of each set of markings. Find me on Tumblr as D5100 Girl for more photos.