Horseshoe sculpture honours ‘extraordinary sacrifice’ of war horses

  • A life-sized horse sculpture in memory of the millions of equines who served and died in World War I will be unveiled to the public at Belsay Horse Trials (2-3 June).

    Artist James Kemish created the installation using horse shoes and it will stand among 100 crafted poppies, symbolising the centenary of the war.

    The artwork is called “The Spirit of Freedom” and will be situated on the cross-country course at the Northumberland fixture, sponsored by Barbour.

    “I wanted to make something to remember and honour these beautiful creatures and the extraordinary sacrifice they made during the Great War,” said James.

    “We wouldn’t be here today enjoying our own freedom if it wasn’t for horses — I only hope that I have done their memory justice,” said James.

    “My wife rides and has competed at Belsay Horse Trials, so it seemed fitting to contact [organiser] Laura de Wesselow and ask whether she would exhibit ‘The Spirit of Freedom’ at the event.

    “I am looking forward to talking to competitors and visitors at the trials and gauging their reaction.”

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    Laura said she is “absolutely delighted to show-off the amazing sculpture”.

    “I think it is a wonderful way for James to reach out to a wider audience of people — who have an interest in all things equestrian — and highlight the plight of all those amazing horses who perished one hundred years ago to safeguard our liberty,” she said.

    “We are incredibly proud to be showcasing this beautiful work of art and I hope that visitors will go and marvel at it.”

    The sculpture is the second war horse memorial to be revealed in as many months.

    In April, Featherstone Town Council unveiled a 20ft sculpture, surrounded by 353 trees — one for each of the men from the town who died in the war — in memory of their sacrifice and to honour the role horses have played in the town’s history.

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