From Endurance to Dressage
USDF Cover Art
If you haven't yet received your 2022 USDF Member Guide, here's a sneak peek. If you have already seen the cover, let me introduce you to the artist, Terry Spehar-Fahey, who happens to be a friend. She is so incredibly talented, but you can see that for yourself. Before you read more, go check out her website.
What makes the cover art especially fantastic is that it features our trainer, Sean Cunningham (owner and trainer at STC Dressage), aboard Rou, Terry's horse. Terry and Rou are clients of Sean's which is how I came to know her. The painting is entitled, "Are We Done Yet?"
I am amazed by how many artists I know. Even more impressive is how successful those artists are. Am I just attracted to successful people, or are all artists experiencing success right now? I've always been impressed by people who can sing or paint or dance. I can't do any of those things which means people who can do them are basically super heroes. Who needs the Avengers when you have people like Terry Spehar-Fahey?
While at a dinner party at Terry's house this past summer - she throws fabulous parties by the way, she shared with us several of the paintings that she had submitted to USDF for the annual art contest. One look at her work, and I knew she was a solid contender for the win. A few months later, she let us know that her painting of Sean and Rou had been selected for the cover, but she asked us not to say anything until the cover actually came out. It has, so I now have permission to share her brilliant art work.
Once the Member Guide was sent out, I plied Terry with a list of questions about her work, and she graciously answered.
Well, what happened?
Terry: My painting, "Are We Done Yet?" was chosen to grace the cover of the United States Dressage Federation Member Guide. Sean Cunningham is aboard my horse Roulette G after a daily workout. Sean will just have to get used to seeing his face every time he hunts for the rules for a certain dressage test!
Can you tell me more about the painting of Sean and Rou?
T: It just was a moment where the light and atmosphere were captured by my camera! I wanted to paint it when I saw the photo.
What medium did you use?
How long did it take to paint?
T: That question is always tricky. It went well and probably took 20 hours plus 35 years of practice!
What is the size of the original painting?
T: The painting is 21 x 29 inches
I doubt "Are We Done Yet?" is for sale, but do you have other pieces for sale?
T: I do sell my work, and I do commissions. I like to take my own photos so they capture the light that I like and have enough detail from which to work. Sometimes I can work from other artists' photos. I am currently doing cowboys and girls of Idaho from a photographer who sees the world as I do. Everything she shoots speaks to me.
I see that you do landscapes, horses & animals, portraits, and Venice & Italy. Do you paint what strikes you, or are most of your pieces commissioned?
T: Generally I have always just painted what I am interested in at the time. But what unites them all is a sense of space and light. I like images that give you a sense of a moment in time captured. I work toward that no matter the subject.
What is your favorite subject to paint?
T: Light falling on a scene.
I know you taught art, but how long have you been painting, and how did you learn? Are you self-taught, or do you have some art education?
T: I have been a professional watercolorist since 1989 when I won best of show in an art fair, and I sold my first painting to strangers! Those people have become dear friends, and they have a museum dedicated to my work. I used to do a lot of street fairs, but that life is hard, so I stopped. I was represented by galleries in Mammoth Lakes, California for 20 years. I just painted my family enjoying summers in the Sierras and people bought them. I have a degree from UCLA in art, but watercolor has been a self-taught medium inspired by my love of Turner, Homer and Sargent watercolors.
What should we know about you as an artist?
T: As an artist, I just want to make stuff that I want to see. Some of it is technically challenging, and that is like a puzzle that I am trying to solve. Most of the time, the years of practice have given me a pretty good ability to just paint and make something I like. In 2022, I will be having a show of my Idaho rancher paintings, so I will be painting a lot of open spaces with cows and wranglers. These people are incredible horse folk. Trying to learn dressage gives me an appreciation for the ability to work with a horse to do ranch work. I especially love the little kids out there herding cattle. I know that might be playing the cute factor but they all have such great presence in the landscape. When the light hits them right-it is a feeling of place to which I really respond.
How would someone like me buy one of your paintings?
T: If you look at my website, you will see a price list for commissions, generally based on size. Someone can always contact me to see if we can work out something. If you are far away from me, I would have to see a photo to tell if I can work from your reference. I will be making a sales page on my website that will show current work that I have for sale. Much of the work on my website is older and already sold. I have to get better at making the site a sales tool! I post current work on Facebook and Instagram, and you can find me through those sites too.
Terry is an amazing artist, isn't she? I should stop being surprised by it, but doesn't it seem that horse people tend to be multi-talented? Every time I meet some new horse girl (or guy), it doesn't take long to find out that they also run marathons, paint, run an online tack shop, play an instrument in a marching band, carry a weapon for work, or have their pilot's license - all real friends by the way. Equestrians are a decidedly interesting group.
I have been blessed with many friendships that developed because of horses. Terry is just one more fascinating person that I have had the pleasure to meet and know. Not only is she incredibly talented, but she's also a wonderful human being. If you like her work, reach out to her and let her know. I know she'd be happy to talk to you.
I have another artist friend that I am hoping to introduce you to. I'm waiting for her to feel a bit more ready. Soon though, very soon!
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: