From The NewsTimes

"Horse Drawn," 2nd Horse Guard through an artist's eye
Eileen FitzGerald, Staff Writer
Updated 09:42 p.m., Monday, July 18, 2011


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BETHEL -- Charcoal and pastel drawings of the Newtown-based 2nd Company Governor's Horse Guard will be on exhibit at the Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City starting Aug. 2.

The show begins just as state budgeet cuts may force the 203-year-old Guard to consolidate with the 1st Company Governor's Horse Guard in Avon.

As inspiration for this show, Bethel artist Ival Stratford-Kovner drew upon her lifetime as an artist, equestrian and a two-year member of the Guard.

"I would like the exhibit to be a guide to reviewing how our calvary has been through the years. At every phase of history, it's been important," she said at her Bethel studio.

"I am really happy that I'm having a show in New York that is promoting the Horse Guard."

The 30 horses in the Newtown Guard include Morgans, Thoroughbreds, Clydesdales and Mustangs with such names as Patton, Galligir, Diablo, Custer, D.J. and My Boy.

Stratford-Kovner, 59, remembered her first day at the Guard, April 25, 2008. It was her wedding anniversary, but her husband told her to attend the drill.

"In this show, every single horse and every single trooper I know personally, and as an artist it was important," Stratford-Kovner said. "I did one 8-foot-long mural, and I want those who view it to come up to it and feel they are riding in the drill."

In one image, she pointed to Major Gordan McNeil, whom she referred to as a horse whisperer.

McNeil, a 73-year-old Woodbury resident, calls his connection to horses a gift. He joined the Guard in 1973.

"It's been very good to me," he said. "There is a lot of esprit de corps and camaraderie."

McNeil's seen some of Stratford-Kovner's work with the Guard.

"She's good," he said simply.

Stratford-Kovner hopes to help protect the horses that could be let go if the Guard is downsized. They were donated with the intent they would remain with the Guard for life.

"I am deeply concerned for the horses. They are all so special. I hope to stay active to help safeguard them,'' she said. "They're calm but completely responsive to the rider."

Stratford-Kovner received a bachelor of fine arts degree from Boston University. In 2002, she was the first person to receive a master's in fine arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.

She has exhibited at numerous galleries, received fellowships, and was an instructor at the DeCordova Museum School, Rivier College in New Hampshire, and Bunker Hill Community College and Newbury College in Massachusetts.

She's thrilled with the show of the guard and her work with the horses.

"These drawings allowed me to be with the horses, when I'm not with the horses," she said, "and to relive some of the best memories of my life and to honor the horses.''

Contact Eileen FitzGerald at or at 203-731-3333.

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