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6 Tips: how to paint a skeleton on your horse for Halloween.

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Horse skeleton painted on a live horse

 Tips, Tricks and Techniques for painting on your horse for Halloween

1) Paint your pony for a Halloween Costume Class

October is upon us and so are the Halloween Costume Classes at horse shows! So many people love dressing up their horses in costumes for Halloween. I think it’s great and love the creativity of horse people. They really go all out!

So this year, I wanted to try my hand at painting a skeleton on my own horse.

It was a lot of fun to do,  but also harder than I expected.

So that inspired me to do a little post about it, and share with you the tips, tricks and techniques that I discovered!

dressage horse skeleton sticker

2) Paint

Which kind of paint do you use to paint on a horse?

This is really important. We want to have fun this Halloween and we don’t want to make our horse sick!

Tempera paint is really safe and the majority of options are non-toxic. You can apply with your fingers or with a brush.

You should ALWAYS check the label and make sure it says NON-Toxic and Washable.

There is a nice line of paint  made by Tail Tamer, called  Pony Paints  just for painting on horses.

You can find it on Amazon link here

Stay away from any other kind of spray paint, or acrylics, they are toxic to horses.

For my horse I used “Arti-san” paints available at Hobby Lobby

Tempera paint safe for horses

I used 32 fl oz to paint the skeleton on a small horse.

3) Paint Brushes

What kind of brushes should you use to paint on your horse?

This matters! Through many trials of different brushes, I found a combination that I like.

  1. Be sure to do an outline first with something like # 12 round watercolor brush.
  2. I used a Windsor & Newton  Cotman like this from Michaels

Paint brush for halloween horse

Then fill in the outline with something wider, like a standard 1″ paint brush from any craft store or hardware store.

4) Getting your horse Ready for painting the skeleton

Lean horses ( like thoroughbreds)  are easier to feel the bones to follow, as opposed to chunky or fat horses

  1. The shorter the hair coat, the easier it will be to paint on them. If your horse has a full winter coat, it will be harder to get crisp lines, but you can still do it!

2.  Getting them to stand still. If you have a lot of flies in your barn, chances are your horse will twitch their skin. This is ok, buy it does make getting crisp lines harder.

So be sure your work area is really clean. Spray  the floor with fly spray but don’t spray the horse!

3. It is not necessary to give the horse a bath first, but if your horse is really dirty, it would be a good idea. The paint will be more likely to stick to the dirt and not your horse.

4. Braid up the mane and tail to keep them out of the wet paint!

5) Finally, painting the skeleton on your horse.

Where can you find reference photos for the horse skeleton?

Try to find a good picture of a horse skeleton that you can print, put in a plastic page saver, and bring out to the barn with you for reference.

You can find people who sell vintage horse skeleton prints like this  one on Etsy, Amazon and Ebay. You can also look in an equine anatomy book.

Take your time, a horse is a big animal, and it will probably take you 2 hours to paint the whole skeleton.

Ta da!

Horse skeleton painted on a live horse

I found that on a grey horse, it is better to outline in black and then fill in with grey or white, give a cleaner, more dramatic effect.

Painting a horse skeleton

And…. if you plan to turn your horse out so that you can get pictures ‘in the wild’ get ready because they are guaranteed to try to roll immediately lol!!!

6) Cleaning the paint off your horse.

Washing your Halloween Costume  off the horse is simple

The paint I used, came right off with a water bath. There was some residue left by the black paint on my grey horse. So I used a little soap and a light scrub and it all washed off nice and clean!

Be Sure you  AVOID getting any paint or soap in your horse’s eyes!

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