SHERIDAN — Amid the seemingly endless statues around Sheridan, a few stand out for their bright colors. While most other statues are solid and somewhat muted, these offer an array of dazzling hues. They are multi-colored horse statues scattered around town, brightening their environments.
The horses date back to the “Herd is the Word” auction in August 2003 at The Brinton Museum. There were 21 life-size plain gray fiberglass horses that weighed about 85 pounds and 42 mini ponies that weighed about 40 pounds. The horses were painted with bright pinks, blues, purples, reds and greens.
They were sold to benefit supported living programs at Easter Seals Wyoming, an organization that provides housing and assistance for adults ages 21 and older with disabilities.
The auction raised about $85,000. Easter Seals Wyoming lead manager Jesse Dahl said the money went toward building an Easter Seals house on 12th Street. He also said similar fundraisers involving horse statues took place around that time in Billings and Gillette.
Dahl and most of the Easter Seals staff have miniature horses in their offices. Dahl is also considering hosting a similar fundraiser in the future with moose or bear statues.
The statues arrived in Sheridan in spring 2003 and were displayed at local businesses around town for most of the summer. Artists from Wyoming and Montana painted and decorated the horses before they went up for sale. Some of the statues served as murals for paintings of people or scenery, while others were designed around the horse.
There are at least nine life-size statues still on public display in Sheridan. One stands in front of the Easter Seals Wyoming office on Joe Street. A statue mixing dark blue, pink, red and yellow is in front of the Sheridan College Broadway Center. The historic train depot and Absaroka Head Start building on Fifth Street has another that features two Native Americans facing each other in front of natural scenery.
Another statue sits on the porch of the Sheridan County Museum. One is in front of Piedmont Psychology on West Loucks Street. There are others on Highland Street, Avoca Avenue and Terra Avenue. Apart from the one outside Easter Seals Wyoming’s office on Joe Street, the statues are all privately owned. Some have moved location or changed ownership — and perhaps colors — over the last 15 years.
Sheridan Memorial Hospital is home to three horse statues, the most in any single location. Ada Kirven, director of donor relations for the SMH Foundation, said the statues have been an excellent addition.
“It was just a really great community involvement for the Easter Seals project and we got excited about it as employees at the hospital,” Kirven said. “I think that people enjoy having artwork around. We don’t have much (art) outside our buildings, and so I think they’ve added to that.”
Kirven bid on one of the statues in 2003 and two donors gave statues to the hospital foundation.
“We’re really happy to have them up there and I think it was fun to be a part of that project,” Kirven said. “I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since we brought them onto the campus at the hospital.”
All three statues were placed inside the hospital at first to be cautious, then were moved outside over the years.
“They’re probably showing a little bit of their age, but they’re still beautiful,” Kirven said.
At the hospital and other locations throughout Sheridan, the horse statues serve as unique, colorful beacons.