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Portland, Oregon

Portland Horse Rings

Tiny horses tethered to antique rings are scattered around the city. 

Tiny horses have been taking over Portland’s streets for decades. Look down, and you’ll likely find some tethered to one of the antique horse rings scattered throughout the sidewalks.

Scott Wayne Indiana, a Portland resident, began tethering toy steeds to the horse rings in 2005. His quirky personal art project soon took off. Before long, other Portland residents were adding their own tiny horses to the herd. Now, many of the city’s horse rings have plastic ponies attached to them.

Locals have long been tethering toy horses to the rings scattered throughout the city. The trend shot off at a gallop after Indiana’s Portland Horse Project gained traction. More than a decade since Indiana’s first toy horses descended upon the streets, people still have yet to rein in their enthusiasm for the project. People leave treats, tack, hay, and riders for the little equines (and their occasional dinosaur friends). One Portland couple even got engaged after meeting because of one of the horses.

In addition to adding a fun touch of equine whimsy to the streets, the Portland Horse Project also preserves an often overlooked part of the city’s heritage. The horse rings date to the 19th and early 20th centuries and hark back to a time when horse-drawn carriages were the main method of transportation.

Over time, Portland began losing these small relics of its horsey history as construction tore up its streets and sidewalks. But in the 1970s, one of its residents began complaining about the lost rings and thus spurred their preservation. Now, the rusted circles are protected and must be replaced following any construction.