Thanks to a couple of great members of the Arabian horse community, Arabian Horse For Humanity "Salute" made an appearance at the 2019 US National Championship show in Tulsa. Christine and Charles Rickart provided his transportation from MN and we’re so glad they did because this statue has to be seen in person to really appreciate the detailed work that went into it's creation. When commissioned by Region 10, the artists were given his name and his mission—Salute would represent the valuable resource of equine assisted therapy for veterans. And their design is everything we could have hoped for and then some. From the tip of his nose to his tail, the four artists responsible, Deneena Hughes, Tracie Thompson, Jerusha Steinert and Nanci Fulmek, used every inch available to tell that story—a story of honor and respect and hope.
Their design successfully combines the natural realistic beauty of the horse with powerful imagery and creative symbolism. At first glance the viewer sees a gorgeous bay horse, so realistic that one could be forgiven for expecting those flared nostrils to snort as he surveyed the show grounds.
But, just step up a bit closer and your eye is led from one intriguing visual to another. They’ve combined subtle images of the American flag glowing along his flanks and traditional military insignia and crests twined along his mane.
In a truly bold move they brilliantly included mechanical elements on the legs. Stated in the artist’s design statement “symbolizing the juxtaposition of the military machine bound up within flesh, blood, and bone, as well as honoring those veterans who have lost so much more than just limbs.” But you have to get really up close and personal with Salute to see two of the coolest elements.
If you get a chance to see Salute in person, get up close and check out his right eye and you’ll see something special—the image of a saluting soldier.
However, if you have to wait your turn to check out his eyes, not to worry, go check out his tail! Flowing down his ebony tail are words painted in gold. Words that you might not realize are part of a bigger whole—a poem written by Deneena Hughes specifically for this statue and bearing the same name. A poem whose words speak of bravery, honor, courage and hope.
You were the machine…
Powerful and strong,
Moving in a storm
Of order and chaos, bravery and fear…
Fueled by honor,
Saluted as the brave ones.
Courage looks different now…
And strength must be borrowed
Where it cannot be found.
Amid all the things
That were taken with rough hands,
Here find peace spoken to all your broken pieces...
The warm breath of hope
Telling you it is safe to feel again,
That yours is a soul worth fighting for.
Here find light that pushes back the looming darkness…
Reminding you beauty still exists,
Calling you to live again.
Here find quiet strength that humbly shares your burden…
Graciously bowing its head
To salute the courage it takes to heal.