Model horses are not always from dollar stores and

bought by the bag. Showing and collecting model horses is a big bucks movement with

one model horse recently selling for $18,000.

October 22-23 at the American Legion Post in Vinton

the second annual Cajun Country Live Horse Show was held. The show is fully

accredited by the National American Model Horse Show Association, or NAMHSA.

The object of the show is to allow the exhibitors to earn and build points to

be eligible for the national show held each year.

Jennifer Moore of Vinton has been involved in the

hobby for only four years but has already gained a national and international

reputation for her ability to realistically paint model horses. Moore has sold

horses to collectors in several countries including France and Switzerland. She

has conducted the Cajun Live Show for two years.

“I am the only model horse builder and collector in

this immediate area, but I have contacts with model horse people in several

states and a few other countries. Our show here is the only one in Louisiana.

There are shows in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Okalahoma, Georgia, and Florida,

just to name a few. Two years ago I started judging at shows. I really enjoy

this hobby. When I had to give up riding for health reasons this became a good

way to stay connected with horses,” said Moore.

This year’s Cajun Live Show included horse owners

from as far away as southern Florida and Oklahoma. There were a number from

East Texas and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. There were about 30 exhibitors

showing over 200 horses and even a few mules.

The two major commercial manufacturers of model

horses are Breyer and Stone. These horses can be bought in western retail

outlets or ordered by mail from several sources. These can be used from the box

or the owner can strip the paint and do a custom paint job.

Horses can also be purchased molded from resin with

the neutral color and painted. Some custom molded horses can cost hundreds of

dollars as horses need to be molded in specific poses, depending on the event

they will be entered in. Standards of specific breeds must be rigidly molded as


Judges are very critical of paint. The patterns of a

natural horse’s coat need to be duplicated in a model horse in that a real

horse does not have a specific pattern or size of markings. For instance, an Appaloosa

will not have spots that are all the same size or arranged in a certain

pattern. A model horse should follow the same lines when being painted.

Moore does extensive research before beginning to

paint a model. “I decide what type of horse I am going to paint and then I

study my reference books to see what this breed looks like in real life. It

will take me several hours of studying before I begin the actual painting,”

said Moore.

Daralyn Wallace was one of the judges at the show. She

lives in College Station. She started the hobby in 1969 after reading an

article about model horses in American Horseman magazine. She has been judging

for nearly 25 years. The Wallace family also has real horses.

“A model horse judge has to know a lot about every

breed of horse. A judge in a real horse show may need to only know about

Quarter Horses, or Paints, but in a model horse show a judge may be exposed to

dozens of breeds. It really takes a lot of study and experience to be able to

be a good judge,” said Wallace. “In a set up for an event, the judge has to

look at the set up and determine what the horse is supposed to be doing. If the

horse is stepping across rails on the ground, we have to look at what the

exhibitor is attempting to show. We need to look at the diagram the exhibitor

puts with the setup and see if the horse is doing what the diagram shows. We

look at the position of the horse and where the hooves are and then determine

where the horse and the hooves will be on the next step. If the horse if too

far forward, or too far back, that will cost points.”

Collette Robertson, who has a “real job” as an

emergency room doctor, is a serious exhibitor. Robertson has a photo file of

real horses showing what she will exhibit. She then begins to build her horse,

rider and display based on that photo. She then makes the setup at home and

photographs that. At the show she takes the photo files to use when she makes

the setup in the show ring.

“I am a little compulsive about my details. I want

everything to be very exact. That is why I use the pictures. I can calmly set

up the display at home and then when I get to the pressure of the show, I have

the picture to use as a guide. It really helps me,” said Robertson.

Whatever her system, it works. Robertson has been

showing for 13 years and has won 47 national titles.

Model horse collecting and showing can be as

involved and as expensive as a person desires. Robertson has two incredibly

detailed saddles that cost $500 apiece. To look at them is to see “Honey I

shrunk the saddle”, as Robertson says. The detail of them is as accurate as

possible down to the number of rivets and rings.

The dolls that are used to portray the riders and

all the tack is manufactured with to a very high degree of accuracy. The position

of the doll as the rider needs to be as close to real life as the exhibitor can

make it.

Looking at a display set up for judging is to see

reality frozen in miniature. Model horse collection is a hobby that all ages

participate in and it is a hobby that the people involved take very seriously. “Don’t

call them toys horses,” says Moore.