Sunday, November 16, 2014

Human Trafficking

    I'm in human trafficking. 
    Don't freak out, it just means I sell dolls. But if you read my blog or know me at all you already know that. I've actually been selling dolls since 2007. I have never yet been to NAN to do room sales or to Breyerfest to do the artisans gallery. Some day maybe. What I do get to do every year is sell all weekend at The Region X Championships (TRXC). There is nothing quite as fun as seeing the people who are buying your work. My first weekend sales were at Region X Regionals which was the first incarnation of the annual championship show that region X holds. 

    In 2008 people played with the dolls. A lot.
 The dolls were dancing.


and being sweet to each other. Among other things. Since everyone was so into playing with the dolls that year I got a swing-set for them to play with the next year.
There really wasn't much playing as I recall.

   This year I had all sorts of things for sale. I had dolls as usual but also extra chaps, eventing kits, judges kits and miniature food items. I love making the miniature food. It's a fun distraction from regular doll making stuff.
And in the end while I do enjoy making other things I will always first be into human trafficking.

It makes me happy and seems to make other people happy too.

*note* top photo was by Jennifer Buxton. Used with permission. Brenda Bednar posed for the first and last photo so I could have them for this post.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Meeting Jennifer

Years ago when the newest incarnation of the biggest Region X show of the year became The Region X Championships (TRXC) it was decided that no one person would host or be expected to host, every single year. It is the regions show so everyone should help. With that in mind many people stepped forward offering to host the show. This year it was my friend Marisa Evans turn. Marisa is one of the busiest people I know and several months ago she asked if I could do something small for her (I can't remember what) and I asked if she needed more help. We carpooled from last year's TRXC so had been working on the list of volunteer judges. I offered to help her with anything she needed help with and became the co-host. So I actively started looking for judges for the show, specifically out of region guest judges.
   I immediately thought of Jennifer Buxton. She and I have been trading buddys and online friends for many years. Anyone that reads her blog knows at least some stuff about her and her life so I knew she was an experienced judge and would be a wonderful judge for both halter and performance (the qualities that make for a good stakes judge) and I emailed her to see if she was interested and could fit a weekend trip to New York into her schedule.
   She said yes.
   I was as excited as a little kid at Christmas because not only did we now have two amazing guest judges (Eleanor Harvey was returning this year and is always very welcome and appreciated) but I would actually get to meet Jennifer. I got on Google chat and told Marisa right away (how else do you talk when someone is at work?), I told my daughter Elecktra. I am sure I told my husband. Marisa and I decided to keep Jennifer a secret for as long as we could because I knew we couldn't be the only ones that would be excited she was coming.
   So the time went by and we finished plans for TRXC and then it was just time to finish getting dolls ready since I always have my big TRXC weekend sale every year. Friday came and I had a full day of making sure the house was clean, last minute errands and waiting for Elecktra to get home from school so we could head out. We finally got to Albany, did some hall set-up, went to dinner and when I came back I got to meet Jennifer finally. And from the first moment it was like I had known her forever. I love it when that happens. We have a lot in common but enough differences to keep things from getting boring. I heard stories about her kids (I NEED to meet them!) and I told stories about mine. We shared dog stories and stories upon stories. It was a wonderful weekend and I was sad that it had to end. I wanted to get home to my guys (Ethan and Travis stayed home) but Jennifer lives so far and I have never left New England. But I might just have to find a way to make that happen. Hopefully soon.
   I have never had any awe of Jennifer, I am in awe of her tack, I can't begin to make anything as beautiful and realistic, but she has always been a person I wanted to meet. I am very glad that got to happen and hope that she can come out and judge at TRXC again in the future.

Friday, October 10, 2014

my CM Stone pony

Last weekend I attended the Albany Area Regional Performance (yes, the show is really AARP) in East Greenbush, NY. It was so much fun! There were not  tons of entrants but the competition was fierce as with most shows in Region X. My goal was to not forget little details that I should know by now and I think I pretty much got that down. Part of the reason could have been the show was a bit more laid-back than some. 
    I had thought about doing a blog post on my show placings but Jennifer Buxton beat me to the punch with her post. I can't compete with her writing so I thought of another post I can do. Don't get me wrong, Jennifer took nothing away from me, I may never have gotten around to doing the post and it might have been thoroughly boring. But my blog is sad and quiet so I thought of something to talk about.
   My custom Stone Pony.
This is Halestorm. I believe she was customized and painted by Julie Brooks but I am not 100% sure on that. I bought her from Joan Yount. Part of the idea of buying her was to compete head-to-head with my friend Marisa and her custom Stone pony Electric Mayhem.
Electric Mayhem is a Stone pony customized and painted by Liesl Dalpe. That one I am sure of because I am pretty sure I watched at least part of the process.
    So I got Halestorm and I put some tack on her and showed her at Baystate Models Live last summer. I think I missed some of her photos but here is the photo evidence of her appearance at the show:
 Fourth (and last) in games.
 Fourth in trail
Fifth (and last) in hunter over fences.

I think after that I chose to keep her out of pleasure but I checked the show results and this is all she shows in.  I will note several problems with the entry and put them forward as reasons Halestorm did not do very well. One: while she is wearing AWESOME tack (it's a BCS set made by Jennifer Buxton) it is a bit big for her and the stirrup leathers were meant for an adult so they are too long. The doll also is not a good fit for the saddle. The end result is an entry that looks less than awesome. 
   Halestorm also showed in the open classes at The Region X Regionals (TRXC) last year. I don't seem to have any photos but here is what I found in the results:
Fifth (and last) in hunter over fences. I think that is everything show showed in.
 I believe she was wearing some tack I made and had an adjusted (partly remade) doll that still did not fit the saddle very well.
   So the end result of the start of Halestorm's showing career was a show pony that was not good at performance. But everything is fixable so I fixed it. 
   I did a trade with Pat Coulter for this super AWESOME pony tack. I have tried a lot of English tack makers over the years and so far I am very fond of Jennifer's tack and now Pat's. That's it. So Halestorm got a new tack set from Pat which is a great fit for her size and I made her a new doll which also fits properly in the saddle. The started the day with hunter over fences
 Then moved on to English games. I want to make a note that the photos in the Candy Race documentation were taken by me at the show at the Blandford Fair (Blandford, MA) in August of this year. When I saw the game I took a ton of photos to use with my pony. And then I made a whole bunch of tiny candy!
 After that was Other English and I decided to try a therapeutic riding entry. The photos in the documentation are all also taken by me and are of my son in classes or shows. The doll on the horse is my "Travis" doll and the leader doll is my "Elecktra" doll. It's fun to have both my kids in one entry.
Those were the classes she entered in the English High Action division. Halestorm ended up with Reserve Champion!
Next was dressage. I believe this was Halestorm's first time in dressage. But I thought it out carefully, check my details and it worked out really well. 
 Next for us was Arena Trail. I found a semi-interesting poles set-up and it paid off as well.
 Last was English Pleasure Other Type. Halestorm got first while my other entry, Caramel Latte got second.
 The result of the Low Action English division was the Championship rosette for Halestorm!

 It's completely possible that on a different day with a different judge Halestorm might not do as well as she did at the AARP show. But she was shown a few times before with poor results and some careful tweaking improved her showing in a big way. I guess my advice for anyone that is looking to learn anything from my blog (if there is anyone out there like that) is make sure your tack fits the horse it is on. And not just fits but fits well which extends as far as not having extra long straps on anything. If you use a doll, make sure it fits on the horse and on the tack. And documentation is not an option but a must. The easier your documentation is to read the more the judges are likely to actually read it. I have never met a judge that wants to read a novel while judging.
   In closing, I am glad I didn't give up on Halestorm's showing career. I want to, again, thank Pat Coulter for a great trade and making me a really fantastic tack set. Now I think I am ready to have that head-to-head competition with Marisa and Electric Mayhem.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Western lead line

Recently I have started on a campaign to clear out some of my "extra" hobby items. I have horses that don't show in either performance or halter (some that I don't love-love and some that just get overlooked) more props than I need and probably more tack as well (but that's harder to let go of). As usually happens I started by looking in my doll box. Those are easy for me to replace so the usual thing to go first. I don't have nearly as many dolls as some people but I do have a lot of dolls. Imagine that.
   In my doll box I had a couple of 1:12 scale kids that I got years ago for a pony ride set-up I did a couple of times. These dolls are terrible. They really don't bend to sit a horse, or to sit in a chair and are not really good for anything. The perfect dolls to be my next victims project. I got it into my head that I wanted to do a lead line set. But I didn't want to use the Breyer youth because she really is too old for lead line. I have used her in the past but... it's a stretch to be believable.
   So while I was cutting up this useless dollhouse doll I started to think about what I needed the doll to be able to do. It has one purpose, just to sit on the horse, so I wasn't looking to make it super fancy and super movable. But I needed to know how it's arms should be. Do the kids hold the reins or the saddle horn? Do they have the little buddy stirrups or saddles that fit them? So I went to look at photos for reference and most of the best ones were posted in Jennifer Buxton's blog on a post she did in June of 2010. Not only was this an awesome post as all of Jennifer's posts are but the comments were very helpful in deciding what to do for the doll as well. Here is what I came up with:
most of the kids in Jennifer's post were not wearing anything as fancy as this but it does happen. Being that this is a very small child she would probably be holding onto the saddle horn, not onto the reins. All I had to make was a doll with arms that could hold the reins. I managed that.
She also needed a leader and more often than not the outfits match. At least being similar in color and style. So I made a fancy showmanship doll to match this tiny little lead line doll. It was a fun set to do and the little doll didn't take an insane amount of work. She isn't as useful or "finished" as my usual dolls but she can sit a horse for a lead-line class. Her arms move up and down a bit but don't unbend. Her shoulders actually have a gap under her top but you can't tell unless you poke the fabric into the space. And it does solve the problem of what doll to use for a lead-line doll. A super-custom doll. There are probably more elegant dolls that could be used but this is a pretty cost effective way to get a hard-to-find doll.
Oh so the things I learned from the comments; people would really like to see helmets on these little kids. Since I don't have any cowboy hats of the correct size and I could manufacture a helmet that sounded like a good idea to me. Also none of the kids in the photos had the kiddie stirrups but that was another item that would have made people happy. I do plan on making some of those but I wanted to take some photos while I had the tent set up.
   So to anyone who thought this might be a useful post with actual tips on showing western lead line, I do apologize for being misleading. Mostly I wanted to share the little doll I made that was obsessing me this week.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Forgetting to post AKA I am too boring to entertain people

So really I am posting because Jennifer Buxton makes me (and most every other blogger) look bad. Last year she reached 1 million page views. When she was getting close she decided to run a contest/raffle and promised to award a piece of tack of her choosing to the winner (who was randomly drawn by a computer program I believe. I won, nearly had a heart attack when I saw because I was so excited and then waited to see what Jennifer would make for me. She made me this:
It was more than worth the wait and I nearly had a heart attack again when I saw it. Again, from pure excitement. That is an unbelievably good prize! I have never really been all that into side saddle but that might have been because I didn't have one. And when you get an awesome prize like this you really have to show the crap out of it. So I did.
I did the entire division side saddle. It took a bit of creativity but I made it happen. It was such a generous prize I am actually still floored by it. Anyway, I thought I would do a post and hopefully get some more traffic going to Jennifer's blog. She is heading towards 2 million page views and is having another raffle. Oh, I stole got the side saddle photo off of Jennifer's blog here. This is where the current raffle started and the rules are listed, etc. I do really sort of hope that my name gets drawn again. I won't take another prize I would want it to go to someone that couldn't otherwise get an awesome piece of Braymere tack. But it would be cool to be THAT lucky.

So in other news I am trying to think of small things I can make to sell at my big TRXC sale in November. I already have judges kits:

removable work chaps:
Removable cross country sets (vest with pinny, medband and watch)
and random mini food.
I haven't been able to think of anything else. I will of course have a variety of dolls to sell but I thought a good variety of smaller items, accessories or whatever, would be fun too. Any ideas?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Post weekend show report; QVPO 2014

 This past weekend I attended the Quabbin Valley Performance Open held in Spencer, MA and hosted by Joan Fauteux. Joan has been hosting this all performance show for many years and it's one of my favorites. This year we had more people than normal, including some that traveled a long distance from other regions. It was wonderful!

I have been showing performance for a lot of years and for the longest time my goal was to figure out how to show the same horse in enough classes in a division to have a shot at a champ or reserve champ rosette. I have also made myself crazy rushing around and have forgotten little details (like jump flags, taking boots off for classes where they are prohibited, etc) so this show my goal was different. I wanted to make sure I didn't forget those little details that are so important to a good performance entry.

My first class of the day was Judged Stockwork. I decided to do a Reined (working) Cowhorse entry. So this entry started with research. I didn't really know much about Working Cowhorse so I learned about it. I watched a YouTube video on Reined Cowhorse, I found a pattern that was commonly used and I found photos that I thought would help emphasize what my horse was doing. I made my documentation, had a detailed list of what the horse should be wearing (even made closed reins for one of my bridles!) and then on show day it turns out none of my cows were quite right so I borrowed this cow from Ann Harris. I love Region X!

Bootlegger is the horse. He is a customized (by Alicia Miller) Rose reiner, painted by Meghann Lorei. I have no idea who made his tack but the doll is my Elecktra doll wearing some ladies cutting chaps and a borrowed hat.

 Bootlegger got 2nd in his Judged Stockwork class and went on to get 3rd in his Timed Stockwork class with his Team Penning entry. New documentation was also made for this entry.
 I had a second entry in Timed Stockwork and that was Hurricane Deck with his roping entry. His tack was made by Pam Perkins (not sure on the boots) and I made the cowboy and the neckrope.

 Hurricane Deck also went into non-competetive ranch scenes with his ranch roping entry. This one was fun because I really wanted a standing cow so I asked Ann Harris (again) if I could borrow one. I also ended up borrowing cows from Jackie Rossi, Laurie Lape and Linda White. It just sort of happened. Two cows in this scene are mine. It was good for 3rd place but it was a ton of fun having that borrowed herd on the table.
 Next was Reining and Bootlegger changed his clothes and got back in the ring. He is wearing a saddle by an unknown maker, a bridle by Danielle Hart and I made his doll. Only 5th place but the class was large and quite competitive. Hurricane Deck went on to receive Reserve champ in the Stockwork division but I apparently forgot to take a picture of that.
 Next was the western division and it was HUGE. My natural trail entry terrified me so much I didn't take a picture. My newly repainted Godiva resin was on a bridge on a not-too-level diorama. She got 3rd for that but she was taken down as soon as the class was pinned. Next was a ginormous Arena Trail class where I had two entries that didn't place. After that was games but I skipped it because I was getting stressed and rushed and that was not allowed for this show. I wanted to do well in the classes I showed in even if I had to skip here and there. Next was other western performance, still no photos and no placings.

Then we had western pleasure-stock type. Mocha Latte did extremely well earning second place in the class. She was only beaten by the undefeated Kahanamoku owned by Marisa Evans. Mocha Latte is a Loping Leggs resin sculpted and painted by Liesl Dalpe. She's wearing a saddle made by Pam Perkins and her bridle was made by Danielle Hart. I made her doll.
 Phases of Godiva is my Godiva resin sculpted by Morgen (Kilbourn) Rossomando and painted by Liesl Dalpe. Her tack was made by Pam Perkins and her doll was made by Joan Yount.
 Next up was the other performance division. It started with showmanship and I was determined not to screw up this entry like I did at TRXC last fall. It's those little details I was talking about. My paying attention paid off with a 1st in showmanship. Hurricane Deck was painted by Mindy Berg. I made the halter and the dolls in this scene.
 The next class was the scene class. I wanted to do something where I could put my showmanship horse right into the scene without changing anything. And I wanted to use mini food because...well, because mini food ☺. This is a horse show picnic scene. The riders are having lunch and Mary (any doll that is named in documentation is always named Mary for me. Not sure why) stopped by after her showmanship class to visit. Hurricane Deck wants that fruit salad on the end of the table!
 Here's another view of the scene. It was fun to do and a quick transition from showmanship so I didn't have to hold anything up or rush.
 Penelope is my newish Calliope painted by Sophie Nordstrom. She's wearing a pack set made by Sara Kucharski with some accessories by me. The doll is a fisherman Dan doll wearing Mego camo.
 Only good for 4th in the scene class but still fun to set up. My footing is my super clever (and occasionally messy) roll-up diorama. It almost never lays flat. The card says something about Dan being on a hunting trip.
 They also did other performance-generic with a packing scene. The documentation explained how packing trips are a great option to see some remote areas that are only accessible on foot or by horseback. My Elecktra doll had fun getting into another set-up.
 Hurricane Deck (who was getting dressed for costume) was champion in the other performance division. What a great day he was having!

Next up was the sporthorse division. Phantom, an Eclipse resin sculpted by Mindy Berg and painted by Joan Yount, is wearing BCS tack (Jennifer Buxton) and boots by Joan Yount. The beautiful jump was made by Marci Driscoll. I made the doll. I was impressed that Phantom got 3rd place in such a large class.
 Here is just another view of the jump since people like it ☺
 McQueen also got into the jumper class. He is wearing BCS tack, boots are BCS as well, doll and jump are by me.
 I skipped hunter because I felt moving jumps was just too time consuming so I started to set up for dressage. McQueen (after taking off his boots and switching dolls) managed 3rd place.

Next up was the English division starting with games. Phantom played with this Housewife Scurry entry. I really like how this entry turned out.

 Caramel Latte made an appearance in the Other English class with this therapeutic riding entry. The tack is BCS tack with the halter and dolls by me. My Elecktra doll managed to get into this scene along with my Travis doll.
 Arena trail was next and Enchanted Eve, painted by Angelica Nelson was in with her mailbox entry. The tack is also BCS tack and the doll is by me.
 Caramel Latte was in Arena Trail as well with this rope gate entry.
 Pleasure ended the English division. Enchanted Eve got first in sportype while Caramel Latte got 4th in other type and McQueen got 1st in other type. Only Enchanted Even got her picture taken.
 Next I jumped over to OF to show Lady Liberty in showmanship. She mostly comes to the show for showmanship since she is on a mission for her Superior Event Horse award in showmanship. She managed another card for her effort
 Things got a little hectic about now since we were running out of time in the hall so I jumped back to CM to show Hurricane Deck in Indian costume...
 Then back to OF to bring Lady Liberty over to scene...
 And back to CM for call-backs (I skipped a class as well). Hurricane Deck continuing his very good day got champ in the costume division. He also got reserve champ in Four Square which was an extra championship. You had to submit the classes you wanted to count for points towards the award at the beginning of the show.
 After that I jumped back to OF where Lady Liberty managed champ in OF other performance.

Overall the day went well. I skipped classes when things got too crazy and had a really nice show day. I should skip classes more often.