When Metro was starting to get a lot of TV time, and Wendy was doing interviews about Metro, she thought maybe she should ask the company she worked for, Southwest Airlines, if she should say whom she works for. She didn’t want to jeopardize her job. Although it wasn’t bad publicity, what’s bad about a painting racehorse raising money for charity? Just to play it safe, she thought should get the official ok from the company. There is a good amount of disbelief when you tell people you have a horse that paints. Some people think you are outright lying to them. One time when I went to the Hobby Lobby and brought up $200 worth of acrylic paint to the check out, the girl at the register asked if I was the artist as she was scanning and bagging all those tubes of paint for me. “No”, I replied. “It is for my horse. He paints by holding a paint brush in his mouth.” She looked at me like I was some kind of smart ass. She just handed me my receipt and bag and said “You have a nice day”.
When Wendy told her supervisor that she had a famous painting horse raising money for charity her supervisor did not doubt her a bit. She just said, “I have to call headquarters in Dallas and let them know about this”. Soon Southwest Airlines was on the phone to Wendy wanting to send a film crew to Rocky Ridge to film Metro and Wendy. Some had already heard of Metro, but did not realize that he was owned by one of their own employees. It took a few months to put together, but a date was set up for the filming and it was approaching fast. I had decided that I wanted no part of it. I would be there to help out, but I didn’t want to be on camera. This one would be all Wendy. Metro and I had already been on TV a dozen times by now. Wendy was there for almost all of them. She would get interviewed, but when they are doing a news story, they are taking an hours worth of video and cutting it down to a three minute segment. Many times Wendy’s interview would end up on the cutting room floor. She would get into the segment, but it would be a passing shot of her walking Metro of watching us paint.
She understood that painting was my and Metro’s thing and didn’t say a word about the minor part she was given in the news broadcasts, but I knew it bothered her on some level. She was just as big a part of Metro’s life as I was. She groomed and bathed him, she put up with his antics, avoided the bites and kicks just like I did. So I was more than happy to let Wendy take all the credit for this one. Besides, I was tired of being on TV. I was happy to have the news crews out, it was good publicity for Metro and New Vocations, but I hated talking to the TV cameras. I was getting better at it, and feeling more comfortable with each one. Being Metro’s spokesperson had forced me out of my comfort zone, and I was starting to get used to it, but I was ready to let someone else have all the fun. As the filming date approached, I kept reminding Wendy that she needed to learn how to paint with Metro, and get some practice in. Each time she just answered, “I know…I will”. Wendy knew she needed to learn how to paint with Metro, but we both knew that it was just a whole new can of “Metro Drama” she wasn’t ready to open yet.
I had hoped it would go smoothly the first time Metro painted with Wendy, but I knew it wouldn’t. Metro and I had developed a rhythm when we paint. He knew how I worked, and I knew how he liked things done. We were a team and operated smoothly together. I knew Metro liked to be handed the brush a certain way, and that he would throw a fit if things weren’t done they way he was accustomed to. He had little patience when he was in his painting mode. He wanted the brush and he wanted it now. If I took long mixing paint, he would start pawing with his hooves at the ground, or start biting at my shirt, trying to tell me to move it along, he was waiting. So I knew when Wendy went into the studio with Metro, that he would not like it, that she was upsetting the flow of his work. And Wendy knew this also. The film crew was due to arrive in 4 days, and Wendy knew that she could put this off no longer. She had to face Metro in his art studio. It went about as well as expected, a lot of Wendy screaming “Stop it!” and a lot of Metro tossing his head in frustration and protest that Wendy was not doing things the way he liked. After about a half hour of this, they both emerged from Metro’s studio covered in paint. Wendy had paint all over her clothes and Metro had paint all over his face. Wendy held out the lead line attached to Metro’s halter and said, “Here, you can have your horse back.”
But she did come back. She was there the next day, ready to give it another go. The second try went much better than the first. Either Wendy figured out how Metro likes things done, or Metro was a little more tolerant of Wendy. They were in synch and Wendy was complimenting Metro on every brush stroke. I praise Metro after every brush stroke, but it is usually something generic like “Atta boy Metro, good horse”. Wendy was adding commentary to each brush stroke. She was praising Metro with “Ooh, a swirly stroke! Look at the big swirly stroke you just made Metro!” Metro was feeding off of Wendy’s excitement and enjoying having Wendy as his assistant. The filming went off without a hitch and the final product was posted to Southwest Airlines “Nuts about Southwest” blog.
It was a beautiful piece, so different from the usually news segments. There was no news reporter overdubs. Just a nicely photographed segment of a girl talking about, and painting with her horse. They looked like they had been painting together for years. On Wendy’s very next trip she was scheduled to work after the segment aired, one of the flight attendants that was scheduled to work on Wendy’s crew, saw Wendy and said, “Hey, you’re the girl with the painting horse.”
Support New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program by purchasing Painted by Metro items at Dream Green USA.