Have a look at Emma Tate’s marvellous Ceramic horse sculptures and you will agree, that her work certainly is one of a kind. Emma grew up in a small, lakeside town in central New York State riding, living, sleeping and breathing horses. Her parents, a blacksmith and a dressage trainer wasted no time to put her on horses back. Today Emma lives and works in the Netherlands, where you can find her in the studio or biking around the bustling streets of Amsterdam looking for a lekker (delicious) cup of coffee.
Emma collaborates with Brooke’s Charity, an international animal welfare charity dedicated to improving the lives of working horses, donkeys and mules. Operating in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, the association reaches over two million working horses, donkeys and mules – more than any other organisation. They employ around 900 staff worldwide, including vets, animal welfare experts and development specialists. During the World Equestrian Games in Tyron 2018 Emma actively helped the working equine by donating two of her sculptures, ‘Motive’ and ‘Unity’, which have been auctioned throughout the WEG.
Dear Emma, tell us about you, where are you from, where do you live?
I am from a small lakeside town in Central New York State. I grew up affiliated with the equestrian world. My father is a blacksmith, mother a rider and trainer. They wasted no time to put me on a horses back.
I have always loved traveling. Besides New York, I lived in Australia and am now currently living in Amsterdam, Netherlands with my husband and kitty. On a daily basis you can find me in the studio or biking around the bustling streets of Amsterdam looking for a lekker cup of coffee.
Where did you study to learn about your beautiful art?
It wasn’t until the final year of my studies at Fredonia University, when I returned from studying abroad that a friend convinced me to join a Figure Sculpture class. My first sculpture was a self-portrait, second a life sized horse rearing out of the ground. The rest was history. I never majored in ceramics but I stayed an extra year to take more figure sculpting classes.
What is your approach to equestrianism and horses?
My mother was a Dressage rider and trainer, my father a blacksmith. They introduced me to horses from day one and they have been a part of my life ever since. Growing up, I was a part of the Pony Club which allowed me to experiment with many equestrian
paths but when it came down to it, like my mom, I also pursued Dressage. I had a couple very special horses to ride throughout the Dressage levels and was so fortunate to have my parents support, as well as training from other talented riders.
Any equine discipline is a team effort. For these animals to accept us as a partner is an accomplishment to treasure.
What is your countries approach to equestrianism and horses?
Being from the States, there is a very abroad equestrian world from the East coast to West. Every equine sport is practiced. I know from a Dressage point of view, it takes a lot of effort to compete throughout the upper levels in the States because of the vastness. The horse shows I needed to compete in to have a chance on the Junior or Young Rider teams were many times out of state. A recognized show often requires 3 or more days and can be quite expensive which can detour some from wanting to compete. I was very fortunate to have a support team and really enjoyed my time competing in the States.
Showing aside, people love their horses. Whether a backyard pet, a trail ride buddy or a show partner, the equine people I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with on a regular basis are wonderful and hard working so their horses can have the best.
I am now living in the Netherlands and have had experience in the equine & show world here. This is a country that is looked up to in the equine world and after living here for some time I can see why! The Dutch take a lot of pride in the breeding and training of their horses and it certainly shows. Not to mention, living in a small country has many benefits! Equine resources are all within a friendly distance.
Tell us about the role of the horse in your art.
After growing up with horses they are simply a passion of mine. There have been a few times in my life where I have not been able to ride as often as I’d like and I notice that is when I make the most equine sculptures. It keeps them close to me.
An equestrian art piece by an artist you admire?
The Horse Problem by Claudia Fontes (read more about this exceptional installation here ).
Your horse of a lifetime?
Figaro was a family horse. A Dutch Warmblood my parents bought at the age of three. I was only a year old. I was so lucky to have grown up with him. When I was twelve I began riding and showing him. I was the youngest rider to make the Junior
Championship team at age 14 and from there we moved on to compete on the Young Rider Region 8 Dressage Team. He was a wonderful competition partner, steady and confident. We were not the wealthiest family but our passion for the sport, the appreciation of working towards our passion as a family and the bond I had with my horse were what made us successful.
Outside the show ring we would ride up the hill into the woods bareback, with only a halter and leadrope and afterwards I’d slide off his bum to dismount. He taught many people after his show days how to ride effectively. He was a well rounded soul and it was a very humbling as an only child be brought up with him at my side until the age of 27. Until this day he is the most influential animal in my life.