TALES FROM THE TRAILS
Lori Royce has always loved horses. Very early on, she knew she would make a living as an artist, and the sheer physicality of horses fascinated her. She wasn’t particularly interested in riding.
“I had no training, and they are large and scary,” she said. “But I love watching them run in a pasture, and they have such sweet, distinct personalities. I loved painting them in all their different gaits and when they’re showing in competitions. I definitely prefer painting them to riding them.”
Back in October, Lori moved up from Broward County to Boynton Beach, and she was looking for a nonprofit she could help out. In the past, she had given to dog and cat rescues and shelters. After she moved, she wanted to continue donating to an animal charity.
“Living close to Wellington, I couldn’t help but see all those beautiful horses,” she said. “I figured there must be some horse rescues where I could help out in some way, maybe spend time doing something useful, or teach art to students on the property.”
She searched online and found Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue.
“I called the owner, Brad Gaver, and spoke with him. I went out and met him, and we spent about an hour in conversation. He showed me all around, and I was very impressed,” Lori said. “As I was leaving, he mentioned that he needed a sign at the front entrance. He wanted it to be ‘from the heart.’ I took photographs of possible subject matters, went home that night, and started sketching.”
She researched and read books about horses at the library to visually capture the musculature, proportions and grand stature of the horses.
“Remembering two of my favorite horses that I had petted and talked to at Pure Thoughts, those two horses became the stars of the piece, Two Feathers and Ghost. Both horses have special souls and voices,” Lori said. “Once I realized that both horses needed to be calmly speaking to each other in the scene, I was able to finish sketching out the entire design. Their noses were my favorite part.”
It was important to make sure that the sign informed people about the rescue and included its name, address and phone number, and the fact that they needed volunteers. “I wanted the horses to look sweet, healthy and happy. I had the two horses talking to each other as if they were saying, ‘We’re glad we’re here, and everything’s gonna be OK now,’” Lori explained.
It took Lori six weeks of planning, designing, sketching and painting to finish creating the sign. She brought it out, and Brad loved it.
“He was stunned at how detailed it was,” Lori said. “We spent another hour talking and touring the whole property. I truly felt very welcomed. My wish for all the horses there is that they never get abused, frightened or starved again, and that they have the best, most peaceful life possible from now on. I felt much gratitude toward the many horses who lovingly let me pet them and looked into my eyes to say, ‘Thanks for caring.’”
Lori enjoys drawing all sorts of animals. She works in acrylics, oils, ink washes, charcoal and pastels, and is available to do custom portraits. She has been back out to Pure Thoughts a few more times to visit with her new horse friends. She was thrilled when she saw her sign installed beside the front gate. She plans to keep going out, as often as she can. She may even try riding. Brad offered to give her lessons. “It’s a wonderful place that takes you away from your everyday life. And seeing how happy all those horses are makes you feel good. Brad and the volunteers out there do a phenomenal job.”