The vibrant — and expensive — fiberglass horse sculptures at Skypoint in downtown Billings will be moved after vandalism and a review of security footage.
“It’s beyond disheartening,” said Jonnie Jonckowski, president of Angel Horses.
The sculptures were displayed as part of a public art exhibit before the horses are sold during a September auction to benefit Angel Horses, a Billings not-for-profit that provides horse rides for cancer patients, disabled veterans, shut-ins and at-risk youth.
The footage from cameras installed by the Downtown Business Association was reviewed after the horse at Skypoint’s northwest corner was vandalized. Two of the brackets mounting the horse on its platform were broken.
The group hasn’t decided yet on a new home for the horses.
“We just can’t risk losing the value of these horses,” Jonckowski said. She estimated the value of one of the horses, painted by noted Crow artist Kevin Red Star, at $40,000.
It was unclear if the person or persons responsible for the vandalism have been identified or if legal action will be taken. A police officer examined the vandalism Monday afternoon.
It appears someone tried to hop up and ride “Tally Ho,” which was painted by Carol Spielman. The force seemed to bust the brackets and might require work on one of the fiberglass hooves.
Steve Gountanis, who helped mount the horses, was still trying to determine what would be required for repairs. He planned to remove the horse Monday evening.
That sparked the review of security footage that showed multiple people on top of the horses or trying to hoist themselves up. Video shows some people running up while attempting to hop on, slapping the horse and posing for photos, often as the horse appeared to wobble.
“That was a large concern we had going in,” Jonckowski said. The horses are lit throughout the night and watched by a security camera and were clear-coated to protect against the elements.
“You just do what you can to protect them,” she said.
She said that the horses drew rave reviews at Saturday’s farmers market.
Jonckowski says “99.8 percent of the people just love these horses. It really beautifies downtown.”
But when a horse like Tally Ho isn’t securely bolted to its platform, “he’s susceptible to anything,” including catastrophic damage or theft, she said.
“The horses are going to have to go.”