Crimsonluna | The Trail of Painted Ponies | Information and Frequently Asked Questions

The Trail of Painted Ponies
Information - Facts - Trivia - FAQ - ETC.

The first ponies of the line were slow starters. Traditional model horse collectors immediately began comparing the new line to "the cows" of Cow Parade and thought, rightfully so since they were both manufactured by Westland Giftware, that this new upstart would be nothing more than a cute, sometimes goofy, collectible. It took a while but eventually collectors were almost forced to take note of the Painted Ponies. These were not boring, ho-hum play toys nor were they the pretentious, high dollar models of other American companies. These were real American horses crafted by individual artists with a stake in how they were received. If the ponies didn't sell the artists would lose this venue for their art. Suddenly serious collectors were giving this first series a second and then a third glance. The artistry and imagination displayed by the initial dozen ponies was like nothing the model horse world had ever seen. The coup de grace was the artists themselves, a group of American as well as Native American artists who just wanted a chance to show what they could imagine on the form of a horse.

In The Beginning:

The summer of 2000 saw the launch of an amazing project, The Trail of Painted Ponies. Star Liana York was commissioned to cast a fiberglass blend life-size model of a horse. Once the model was finished artists from around the southwest were invited to submit designs for it.

In recognition of the exciting and innovative contemporary Indian art that is being produced, a special effort was made to attract the most talented Native artists in America. Artists from more than 30 different tribes welcomed the opportunity, producing a beautiful and authentic collection of artwork that carries on centuries of tradition, reveals the different cultures and societies that make up Native America, and expresses the uniquely individual touch of each artist.

The response was incredible. 120 designs were selected by sponsors and the ponies were painted. They went on display around New Mexico and the public was invited to take a "trail ride" around the state to see them.

In the fall of 2001 the Trail Ponies were rounded up and put up for auction. Nearly a half million dollars was raised for various worthwhile philanthropic organizations. A second herd went up for auction the summer of 2002 again raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable causes of New Mexico.

Then what? Well the figurines of course, those lovely little works of art we all know and love. Star Liana York was again tapped to sculpt a horse form, actually two this time and in miniature form. The standing and running forms were born and January 2003 saw the debut of that first stunning herd.

The Herds:

The first series gave us the signature piece, War Pony. And a quirk too, the first 3600 resins were made and sold without an edition number. Those are now known as the pre 1E's and are worth a bloody fortune.

Series two is widely accepted as the most popular with the standout Bob Coonts' Mosaic Appaloosa and Kathy Morawski's Quarter Horse. This herd is completely retired now.

Series three and four hit a kind of middle of the road stride with few really exciting pieces. The first Christmas ponies made their debut in herd four.

Series five began the standard 8 figurine winter herd and featured the debut of the irrepressible Lori Musil. More on her later. :-)

Series six has no standouts but an interesting bit of trivia. None of the Christmas ponies are designed by actual artists, rather by TOPP staff and Westland Giftware in house designers. This sets a disturbing trend that continues to this day.

Series seven is a widely popular one with the debut of Lynn Bean, Andersen Kee and another Lori Musil pony.

The most exciting thing to come out of series eight is the introduction of the new walking mold, again sculpted by Star Liana York.

Series nine marks the debut of Maria Ryan and LaMarr and the stunning introduction of Lynn Bean's Copper Enchantment.

The tenth and eleventh herds came and went with little fanfare, perhaps building up to the next herd.

And WOW, series twelve rocked our pony collecting worlds with Vickie Knepper-Adrian's Wounded Knee, Janet Snyder's For Spacious Skies and Lynn Bean's Bunkhouse Bronco. And then we were dismayed to discover that 3 of these ponies were not done by an actual artist, but again by a Westland Giftware designer.

The thirteenth herd was pure magic, enough said.

Alas, then fourteen came along and gave us the merged Native American herd, an ugly fairy and some serious controversy regarding the Christmas ponies that is still not resolved to most collector's satisfaction. It also had us waving goodbye to Westland Giftware as the manufacturer.

Series fifteen bolted out of the distribution centers of the new manufacturer, Enesco, to much fanfare. It also marked the debut of the new rearing pony form sculpted by Sommer Prosser. Drumbeats tattooed the arrival of War Cry and Carries the Spirit as well as the long awaited return of Lori Musil. And then the Christmas ponies came out and we finally got a pony from our talented Fabienne Leydecker.

The sixteenth series began the new herd formation of four ponies that will be released four times a year. But more importantly this herd introduces two talented ladies to the stable of Trail artists, Jesse Leach and Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor.

Series seventeen gave us another fierce Warrior and a Lacey Lady from an artist we hope to see more of.

The 18th series features four solid artists and four noteworthy ponies including a wonderfully nostalgic western fella and a cantering keyboard pony. This series is a must have for any serious collection.

Series 19 has three beauties that should be a staple of every herd. The fourth, well, that one is optional.

The 20th Christmas release is solid in terms of variety but lacks a real star and being released in July is annoying at best.

And then Series 21 exploded on the scene and raised the bar again. One of the most colorful and eclectic herds in quite a while that is led by a rearing Peacock who is closely followed by a trio of running models. With two new artists and a couple of old friends as well, this herd belongs in every collection.

The twenty second series marked the debut of the fifth form, Regal. That is the only thing that marks the release of this bunch.

Series 23 was an anticipated herd because of Kim McElroy's first pony, Gift From the Sea. Unfortunately the piece has been widely panned proving once again that hype is best ignored. The real standout of this herd is Fabienne Leydecker's wonderful Stands in Beauty. This girl is a must for any collection.

Little Bits of Trivia:

The ceramics will all sport what I call their "armpit hole". It's a tiny hole somewhere on the underside of the ceramic that is a quirk of the manufacturing process. Some of the ceramics will also rattle. It's nothing to worry about, just a loose piece of ceramic inside the piece. It's their jingle!

Occassionally a resin release will absolutely reek. It is called the "resin reek" and is not considered a flaw. Every pony of that model will have the smell. The worst I have ever smelled was Ceremonial Pony.

A few rare pieces of Go Van Gogh will be missing the "Vincent" that should appear on the front side. This is not considered a flaw, rather a quirk.

Painted Lady looks like she only has one eye, but actually she's winking. It's a bit weird looking but is actually supposed to be a risque wink.

Most collectors will refer to their ponies as either a "he" or a "she" and can become quite passionate about which is which.

Virgil Ortiz, the artist who gave us Willing, is a killer clothing designer and Nevena Christi of Happy Trails fame, is a rocking boot designer.

The series voted the worst herd ever is series number 8. The favorite? Series number two.

Lori Musil does one mean Bette Midler imitation. Trust me, there are pictures.

In an informal poll of collectors the standing mold is the favorite by a nose.

Vickie Knepper-Adrian loves chocolate chip cookies and chai tea lattes.

The Westland Giftware running mold is considerably smaller than the Enesco version.

Jennifer MacNeill-Traylor is absolutely wild about Halloween and does some seriously spooky pumpkin carvings. She is also a talented photographer.

Many collectors have interesting alternate names for the ponies. The hands down winner would have to be Den, man he comes up with some killer monikers!

Peace, Love & Music will forever be known as "The Hippy Pony".

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