Montana September 27, 2016
by Jessica Wick Most People Don’t Know The Enchanting Story Behind Montana’s Most Famous Horses
As you drive along Montana’s Highway 287 just north of Three Forks, something in the distance will catch your eye. As you get closer, you’ll realize that it’s horses… specifically, horse sculptures made of steel. Have you ever wondered where those horses came from and why they’re there?
Montana’s Bleu Horses are a herd of 39 horse sculptures that sit permanently on a hillside just off the highway. They got their name from a color of horse known as a blue roan.
The horses are the work of well-known local artist Jim Dolan, who has also created many other outdoor sculptures statewide. His fly fisherman sculpture is in Ennis, and his flock of geese are at the terminal of Bozeman International Airport.
So how did these horses come to be? It’s simple: Dolan made them out of love for Montana and its people. He planned the sculpture for years, trying to find the right location. One day he happened to stop by Wheat Montana in Three Forks and talk to the owner, who offered him his land on the nearby Kamp Hill for his project.
Dolan got to work, spending 15 months and his own time and money to design, transport and install each horse. The horses, which are shaped to look like they’re in different positions, have their heads placed on ball bearings so they’re able to move. From a distance, they often appear real.
Dolan didn’t make a sketch of the horses… he just built them using his imagination. Their hooves are pipes and their eyes are made from capped pipe. He needed them to be solid so they wouldn’t blow over.
One has to wonder why anyone would be so generous. When Dolan moved to Montana from California in 1966, he knew he’d live here permanently. He decided that one day he’d find a way to be an asset to the state. He hopes that his act of generosity will inspire others to give back as well. But more than anything, he wants the people of Montana to enjoy the artwork.
Jim Dolan’s Bleu Horses are a great roadside attraction. Here are some other things to look for as you drive through the Treasure State.
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