Sunday 29th of November 2020

Double Olympic gold medallist eventer works with leading artist Michelle McCullagh

Sir Mark Todd turns his hand to art for the World Horse Welfare Invisible Horse Trail, which will be exhibited at the Mitsubishi Motors Badminton Horse Trials

The moving story of Fern the abandoned Thoroughbred has been brought to life in World Horse Welfare’s Invisible Horse Trail by celebrated artist Michelle McCullagh in a unique collaboration with eventing world legend, Sir Mark Todd.

Featuring a silver fern leaf design in homage to Sir Mark’s home country, New Zealand, the horse sculpture features several stunning portraits inspired by Fern’s face – partially hidden beneath the leaves and embodying World Horse Welfare’s ‘Invisible Horse’ initiative.


Sir Mark Todd and Michelle McCullagh paint the horse sculpture

Sir Mark Todd and Michelle McCullagh paint the horse sculpture

Kindly sponsored by the Mark Todd Collection, the beautiful horse sculpture has been partially painted by Sir Mark Todd himself and given the addition of his signature across one hoof. The story of abandoned Thoroughbred Fern who was rescued by World Horse Welfare, inspired Michelle’s unique design. She said:

“I really wanted to bring Fern’s story to life in a sensitive and emotive way, whilst creating something that visualises the Invisible Horse theme and pays tribute to Sir Mark’s New Zealand roots. Fern’s face is not immediately visible beneath the leaves and I hope the sculpture will encourage people to spend a little while longer looking at the sculpture and thinking about all of the horses who are so in need of World Horse Welfare’s help and may not always be immediately visible.”

Sir Mark Todd said:

“World Horse Welfare is a fantastic charity so I am very pleased The Mark Todd Collection are supporting the Invisible Horse Trail and delighted personally to be involved.

“As competitors, one of the most paramount things is our horses’ welfare and whilst our own horses are pretty much pampered athletes, we’re also very aware that not all horses get such a good deal and a lot of horses in many spheres don’t get treated how they should do.

“The Invisible Horse Trail is a great initiative to bring the plight of these horses into the spotlight and I think following the trail will make a fun addition to anyone’s visit to Badminton whilst learning more about World Horse Welfare’s work and supporting them in any way they can.”


The Invisible Horse Trail

Fourteen fibreglass horse sculptures will make up the trail, each one telling the story of a horse who has been helped by World Horse Welfare through the artist’s interpretation of that story. The maquette for the fibreglass sculptures was modelled on the charity’s adoption horse, May, by award-winning sculptor Judy Boyt, with the sculpture trail bringing to life World Horse Welfare’s campaign to raise awareness of the world’s invisible horses.

Sir Mark Todd is among the most celebrated New Zealand sportsmen, with two Olympic gold medals and numerous other honours. He was named to compete in six successive Olympic Games, has competed at Badminton Horse Trials for 36 years winning the iconic trophy four times and was named FEI Event Rider of the 20th Century by the International Equestrian Federation in 2000.

Since graduating from Falmouth University in 2008 with a Fine Art degree, Michelle McCullagh has been successfully establishing herself as a fine artist specialising in animals, particularly horses. From a very young age Michelle has had a close involvement with horses. Since the age of six she was a member of the Pony Club and went on to compete in affiliated eventing after her A levels. She still now hunts when she can.  

Michelle’s work focuses on the fastest, most versatile breed of horse, the thoroughbred.  Her work is inspired by her life drawings with their expressive use of minimal lines. Her oil paintings are an attempt to describe movement and form by using contrasting colours where the light catches anatomical flashes of detail.

Useful Links

Michelle McCullagh

The Mark Todd Collection

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