Beautiful Horses of Tennessee by Karen Brenner

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By Nancy Brannon

Last November (2016), Karen Brenner announced she had finished the last three of 40 paintings in her series “Beautiful Horses of Tennessee.” She also started a contest, asking readers to vote for their favorite painting. Last December (2016) the winner was announced.

The winner of the Beautiful Horses of Tennessee is “Dandy and Friends,” horses owned by Kathy Moore. Kathy is the organizer of the annual Buck Creek ride in Tennessee, and she describes Dandy (center) as a great trail horse. Here’s how Brenner described Dandy: “Dandy is a tall, mischievous Paint horse. He shares his pasture with two friends, who joined in the fun the day I got to take photos. They were having so much fun together that I decided to include all three in my painting.”

The annual Buck Creek St. Jude Trail in West TN has been benefitting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis since 1999. It is a weekend of organized rides, great food, an auction, and live entertainment, held annually the last weekend in September. Over $211,000 has been raised for this wonderful charity in the past 12 years! Visit for more information about the Buck Creek Trail Ride.

Kathy responded to news of the win: “My horses in the painting mean the world to me.  Dandy, of course, is the center horse in the painting.  His mother ‘Baby Girl’ is to his left, and ‘Slick,’ the sorrel to his right, is a rescue horse I adopted about four years ago.  I had Baby Girl's mother and was there for her birth, and was also there to imprint Dandy when he was born.  Dandy’s sire was a beautiful dapple gray saddle horse.  I wanted a dark gray paint, but got this awesome 16.1h black and white!  My horses do not have registration papers, but are great trail horses, companions, and perfect in my eyes! 

“I have one other horse named ‘Pinto’ that I found in South Texas and brought home with me.  At the time, he was nine year old, and he has carried me many miles all over Arkansas, Missouri, and Tennessee.  He is now 34 years old.  With great vet care, senior feed, and lots of TLC, he still looks great!

“I was so excited when Karen sent me a message saying she wanted to come and paint my horses for Beautiful Horses of Tennessee.  I never dreamed they would be one of her choices, since she interviewed so many across the state.”

Karen Brenner explained the project:  “The ‘Beautiful Horses of....’ series started over ten years ago when I visited Texas and wanted to travel around the state and photograph horses for future paintings. The idea for a contest and having owners nominate their horses for the project just sort of popped in my head! The nomination process would help me find people who really loved their horses and would approve of my hanging out at their farm taking lots of photos. These horse owners would most likely also be willing to help with posing the horses and even help chase them around their small pastures for action shots. And that's what happened! 

“Tennessee is the 11th state in the ‘Beautiful Horses of....’ series. Tennessee was one of the best states so far with so many horse enthusiasts in Tennessee. I got to see lots of wonderful horses! And it was neat to get to photograph Tennessee Walking Horses in their home state, and learn about the development of Spotted Saddle Horses and Rocky Mountain Horses, which also have roots in Tennessee. Plus Tennessee is home to lots of adopted wild mustangs, whom I also really like! Truth be known, I love all horses!

“Even though I don't get to stay very long at each farm or ranch I visit, I really enjoy seeing the relationships between horses and horse owners. Of course, the people who nominate their horses for this project really love their horses! I'm so lucky to get to meet them!

“I love traveling and love photographing horses.  My dream is to eventually travel to all 50 states [photographing the state’s beautiful horses]. Of course, I'll probably have to live to be 100 to get them all in!”

In addition to the winner, Kathy Moore’s horses, Brenner said she also liked the McNatt Farm horses. She did several paintings of Bobby McNatt’s stallions. He has four stallions: one Rocky Mountain Horse, Fairwinds Destiny, and three Spotted Saddle Horse stallions: Mr Bojangles, Jr., Snapshot, and Snoopy.

To see all the paintings in the Beautiful Horses of Tennessee series, visit:

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