Tower horses didn't run away

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By Todd Martin

In case you were wondering, those horses on the water tower at Weissinger Hills were not put in the barn for the winter.

No, the mural being painted on that water tower didn’t quite meet original expectations, so it’s being redone.

“It was finished, but it wasn’t like the mock-up that we got,” said Edward “Hoppy” Bennett. “It’s [the water tower] about a 1,000 yards or so off the interstate, and you couldn’t see the horses that well. So we asked him [Eric Henn, the mural painter] if we could get the horses bigger like in the mock-up, and he said, ‘No problem.’”

Bennett helps run the Shelbyville Horse Show, which is paying for that mural, another one in downtown Shelbyville and a third one in Simpsonville right next to Interstate 64, each celebrating Shelby County as the Saddlebred Capital of the World.

The horse show got clearance from Shelbyville Water and Sewer Commission to paint the tower in September of 2008, and work began in late April of last year. However, because of a rainy summer and fall, Henn’s work took longer than expected.

After he finished, Bennett said something just wasn’t right. He said officials weren’t dissatisfied with the work, just the size.

“It looked wonderful,” he said. “You just couldn’t see it that well from the interstate. We told him he could leave the horses on the backside because the people in the houses could see them fine, but we wanted the ones facing the interstate bigger.

“He came back and got the new base coat down, but then the weather just got in the way.”

Now, once Henn finishes the changes on the Weissinger Hills tower, he will move on to the tower in Simpsonville that sits right on I-64 by exit 28.

The plan is to have both towers finished before the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games that begin September 25 in Lexington.

“We have an oral agreement that he’ll be finished with those two before the 2010 games, but he’s got plenty of time,” Bennett said.

The towers could help lead visitors to Shelby County, not only during the games but all year.

“I don’t think it’s a question that they [the towers] will pull people that are interested in horses off the interstate, especially when they see it twice,” said Charlie Kramer of the Shelbyville/Shelby County Visitors Bureau.

Added Bennett: “Most people going to Nashville know it’s the Music City, and they capitalize on that. We’re the Saddlebred Capital of the World, and we should capitalize on that as well.”

Henn’s murals can be seen nationwide, and he has done several throughout Kentucky and Ohio.

You can even see some of his water tower and container work in Versailles and Lexington, and he has done murals for the Cincinnati Zoo and the Newport Aquarium.

“We couldn’t go out and buy two billboards that would be nearly as good for the community,” Kramer said. “When he gets them completed, they’ll be tremendous for the community, not only for the [Alltech FEI] games but for everyday.”