Knowledge of horses helps Perryville native with his art

September 22, 2003|EMILY TOADVINE

When Kendal Wise is not riding horses, he's making them. Although he's only been making the small, wire horses since spring, his work has been juried into the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program.

The 27-year-old's talent of knowing how to shape the various types of horses stems from a lifelong love affair with the animal.

"He's always been around horses. As soon as he could sit up on a horse and ride, he rode. By age 5, he was riding fluently," says his mother, Charlotte Wise.

It's no wonder that his love of horses surfaced in the form of art.

"When he picked up a pencil the first time, he drew a horse," his mother notes.

After that first rough drawing, Kendal continued to develop his artistic talents and horsemanship. His wife, Amy, a media relations coordinator with the state Department of Travel, urged him this spring to attempt the wire horses.


"It was on a dare. I said, 'Do you think you could do something like this?'" Amy says.

She was pleased with the results.

"Amy is very marketing-oriented and she wanted me to make more," says Kendal, who notes that a couple of other Kentucky artists, including Danville native Dacelle Peckler, make horses of wire. Although Kendal is quiet and hesitant to brag on his work, he notes that his wire horses are different because he can shape them to resemble a certain breed.

"His have a more precise look and he tries to make them more characteristic of a particular breed," says Amy. "Most people identify with a certain breed."

A Tennessee Walking Horse is the type that the Wises, Charlotte and Kenneth, gravitate toward because that's what they raise. Others by Kendal have a jockey and are made to look like thoroughbreds. A copper wire horse represents a saddlebred.

Since Amy is involved with marketing, she now has her husband's work displayed at Shakertown and Constitution Square as well as other state parks.

"I thought, 'We definitely need to promote it in Kentucky,'" she says.

The horses, which Kendal estimates take about four hours each to make, sell for $125, or $150 if a rider is part of the figure. Hardware stores carry tie-wire, which is used in concrete construction to tie the steel reinforcements. He prefers the thin, 16-gauge wire, which is sold in 4-pound rolls. Two horses usually are born out of each 4-pound roll.

Kendal and Amy live in Versailles to be closer to their jobs, but being part of the horse farm operation means the high school sweethearts return to their hometown often. Kendal, a civil engineer with Strand Associates of Lexington, fits in time for his art around his job and several trips a week to his parents' farm outside Perryville.

"I'm here every other night, especially right now. We're got four yearlings I've started riding."

Kendal may have captured the attention of the judges for the craft marketing program, but it's the judges in the horse show ring that he strives to impress.

"We raise four to five colts a year with the intent of breeding a world champion," he says. "We haven't yet, but we've got some pretty good mares," he says.

Kendal's success in the ring is evident in his parents' home.

"His room upstairs is packed with ribbons and trophies," Amy says, noting that she limits her involvement on her in-laws' farm to naming the new colts.

A drawing Kendal did while in high school of The Pusher, which was the stud on Bob McQuerry's farm outside Harrodsburg, hangs on the wall in the living room. It won a contest and Kendal received a saddle as a prize.

Kendal's participation during high school in a standardbred program through 4-H involved raising a 6-month-old weanling for the Tattersall Sales. The horse later was used in harness racing.

"It was an intense program," says Charlotte Wise, noting that her daughter, Kendra, also was active in the 4-H program. "He had to keep records and submit information about vaccinations. He had to weigh the feed."

Of all the many horses Kendal has work with, he rates Pride's Pickle at the top.

"He developed into a prominent show horse in Tennessee, which is where all the good ones are," Kendal says.

Just as most people couldn't take a plain material such as wire and craft it into a horse, training a horse requires special talent, says Charlotte Wise.

"He has a knack and patience," she says.

One day, Kendal and Amy hope to shorten the drive involved with training horses and work on their own farm.

"We do hope to come back to Danville," Amy says.

Kendal Wise may be reached at (859) 494-9473 and his work may be viewed by clicking here.

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