Model Horses are not kid’s toys.
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,”
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
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.