Inside Metro’s Studio

A glimpse inside “Studio 6” where Metro does all his painting.

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Metro…being Metro

My wife Wendy and I have a little laugh when someone posts on Metro’s Facebook page about how sweet Metro is. They obviously don’t know Metro like we do.

So I am just going to come out and say it… Metro is an ass.

He is stubborn, dominant, cranky, and in constant need of being the center of attention.

He is the old man who keeps your baseball when you hit it in his yard.

It is a never ending struggle for supremacy with Metro. He is just difficult, and you can’t go a day with Metro without experiencing some kind of “Metro Drama”.

He has a very big ego and a very big personality.

Would I change anything about his personality if I could. Never. I have grown to love the horse that he is.

It wasn’t for a lack of trying. I have spent endless hours of groundwork with Metro using Clinton Anderson’s method. What I ended up with was a very obedient horse, with a whole lot of attitude. The attitude never went away.

“Maybe it is just the racehorse in him” I would tell myself. But Wendy’s horse, Pork Chop is a retired racehorse also, and PC is the perfect gentleman. He is a big lovable goober. He is the “Anti-Metro”.

Photo of Pork Chop
Pork Chop. He’s that kid who had is eyes closed for every school picture.

Pork Chop. He’s that kid who had is eyes closed for every school picture.

But Pork Chop was also the slowest racehorse in the world, so maybe just the fast ones come with attitude.

The first couple of barns we were at, Metro was hated. No one liked him, except us. They said he was dangerous, and with his knees the way they were, no one could understand why anyone would want this horse. We couldn’t ride him, and in the eyes of the pleasure horse world, he had no purpose.

But it was the attitude and the personality that made me fall in love with Metro. There was never a dull day when you spent it with Metro. Every day he offered up some new kind of challenge.

He was my first horse, and I didn’t know any better. I thought every horse was like him. But they are not, because I have never met another horse like Metro.

And the drama isn’t just for us humans. Metro likes to spread the wealth. If there is drama and mis-behaving in the pasture, Metro was probably the instigator.

If the horse’s all started running around in the field, and a race broke out, odds are Metro was the one who started it.

And he hates to be ignored. He thrives on attention and wants all eyes on him. If you put him on the cross ties and just ignore him, he will soon start to put on a display. It will start with the “hoof twirl”, move on to the “scratch” and then work it’s way up and make his head start bobbing up and down.

He does his own little “Zenyatta Dance” in the aisle of the barn.

Metro showing off
Photograph by Wendy Wooley. He looked a little thin in this photo.

Newcomers to the barn, when they first see this display of attitude, seem to have a look of terror in their eyes. Until someone tells them, “That’s just Metro…being Metro”.

It always makes for good footage for the news crews when they come to film him painting. I just put him on the cross ties and tell them to turn their cameras on. “The show starts in 2 seconds.”

Metro and Hotshot playing a little head tag.

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It’s all fun and games until someone needs stitches.

Support New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program by purchasing Painted by Metro items at Dream Green USA.

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A Star is Born

Welcome to the New Ron & Metro art Blog. My name is Ron Krajewski and I have been a professional artist for the last 10 years. Even though I have been at it much longer than my horse, Metro, he is the one that is always ending up in magazines and on TV. He has a constant need for attention.

Am I jealous?

Photo of camera on Metro

No, but sometimes I wish Metro could do it without me. Even though Metro is the one that the TV cameras and reporters are knocking on the door to see, I am the one that has to do his talking. Which is a good thing, because if you knew Metro, like those close to him do, his language would probably not be suitable for TV. But he loves the camera!

Is he a bad horse? Well he is Metro. He is filled with attitude. He is who he is and we have given up trying to change him a long time ago. He is very obedient, he will do anything that is asked of him, but his attitude gives you the impression that he is “flipping you the bird” while he is doing it.

He can be sweet and defiant all at the same time. He will protest with a bob of the head, he can be nippy, and dominant, but I wouldn’t trade him for any horse in the world. Every day is an adventure with Metro. He is bursting with personality.

How did he become an artist? To make a long story short, we adopted Metro off the track from Renpher Stables when his racing career was finished. Metro was prone to bone chips in his knees all his life. He had two surgeries during his racing career, running out of Belmont and Saratoga, but his knees had lost so much bone, that he wasn’t a candidate for further surgeries. The new bone chips would have to stay, and they would go on to cause all kinds of problems for him. He would develop arthritis and swelling in his knees.

We were new to horses, and Metro with his “Racehorse Attitude” and bad knees was more than we could handle. It would be 9 months before Metro was semi-healthy enough to ride lightly. He turned into a pretty nice trail horse, once he learned that every trail ride was not a race, but his knee problems started to catch up with him again. His limp was coming back, the medicines we were giving him stopped helping, and he was losing flexibility in his knees.X-Ray of Metro's Knee

New X-rays showed that his body was generating bone growth in his knees. Within 2 years, we were told, Metro would be unable to stand up after a nap, and we would have to euthanize him.

By now, I had grown to really enjoy my time with Metro, and couldn’t imagine my life without him. I just didn’t want to turn him out in a pasture and wait for the inevitable. I wanted to spend time with him. If I couldn’t ride him, maybe I could teach him to do what I do…Paint.

Was it hard to teach Metro to paint? No, it was incredibly easy. I have since tried to teach one of our other horses, Hotshot, to paint, to see if Metro was a fluke, but had no success.

Maybe Metro just had the personality for it, maybe he knew that his days of being a normal horse were over, and accepted it as his new job, but he took to painting very easy.

We had no intentions of him becoming famous for it. Just to spend time together, and maybe sell a couple of paintings as a novelty, to help out with his vet bills. Did I mention that Metro is the most expensive “Free horse” there ever was.

But when I saw the quality of his first paintings, I new we had something special. They didn’t look like they were painted by a horse. And when the first two sold rather quickly, the bigger picture came into focus.

Metro could help other retired racehorses.

Metro's Painting, Caramel Sundae

I emailed New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program to tell them about Metro, and we would like to help out. I am pretty sure it was the first email they received from a painting racehorse.

We pledged 50% of the proceeds from the sale of Metro’s paintings to help other racehorses find homes. The other 50%, we put back into Metro, to find a treatment for the bone growth that was threatening his life. Which we found, and I will go into, more in depth, in a later post.

Success came fast for Metro and his new-found art career. Everybody wanted to put him on TV and in the newspaper. Metro was a natural in front of the camera. Every newscrew left the barn saying, “I swear that horse knows when the camera is on!” And I think he did. He is a showboat, he loves that people are there to see him, and that he is the center of attention. He is the greatest horse in the world… just ask him.

Soon Metro went from local TV appearances, to national TV. He was on The Today Show, Good Morning America, and NPR…just to name a few.

Did I mention I am an artist too? But the Today Show is not knocking down my door to put me on TV.

One of my paintings. Metro always seems to work his way into my art also. That’s him in the white blinkers.

We hope you enjoy the new blog. There are so many Metro stories to tell, and we will try to tell them all.Ron's Painting, Final Turn

A horse with a hobby