Towering over an otherwise lonely stretch of Interstate 90 in central Washington state are 15 life-sized, metal horses. The equines are suspended mid-gallop, their race along the ridge line of a steep cliff overlooking the Columbia River interrupted.
“Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies” is the unfinished work of artist David Govedare. Govedare’s vision, when he installed the sculpture in 1989, was to have the horses galloping out of a giant, overturned basket. The idea was that the basket was overturned by the titular “Grandfather Spirit,” gifting the stallions to the world. However due to a persistent lack of funding, the holy basket was never made and the now graffiti-marked horses are all that exist of Govedare’s piece. Critics of the piece have noted that the giant basket would resemble a satellite dish which may be one the reasons the piece is continually unable to drum up the required funds.
Either way, the steel stallions that are in place have been seen by an estimated 100 million travelers from the nearby road, most of whom never even realize that the piece is unfinished. The 1,200 pound beasts are on public land and a close-up view of “Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies” (as well as a photo-friendly panorama of the Columbia River) are just an easy (but steep) one-mile hike from the parking lot at Exit 139.
Know Before You Go
Traveling east from Ellensburg, WA, take exit 139 (labeled "Scenic Viewpoint") off Interstate 90.