Wednesday, February 27, 2013


So I just saw Jennifer Buxton's Blog. For those of you that missed it she was running a contest. Jennifer was nearing one million page views on her blog and said when she hit the million someone that left a comment on any of her blog posts for the duration of the contest would win something big. The something big turned out to be a saddle! And the random number generator picked me! I feel like I won the lottery! Very happy day :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Versatility of a Standing Horse

There has been a lot of back and forth between Jennifer Buxton's blog, my blog and several other blogs I follow recently. I am pretty sure Jennifer started it but the end result is there has been a lot of talk about performance showing. There are people that are terrified to show in performance because they think it is too hard, too expensive or any number of other reasons. As anyone who follows my blog (or Jennifer's for that matter) knows, performance showing can be a lot of fun. And I happen to love it.
Today's post was inspired by a comment posted on Jennifer's last blog. It related to being able to win champs with a standing horse but having to really work for it. The main focus of the post today is Cloud Dancing. He is my Bold Endeavor resin that was a super show-horse for about 3 shows until I discovered he was covered in cracks. I may either try to restore him or get him restored so he can show again. Cloud Dancing was a grail horse of mine for awhile and I decided I wanted to try for a NAMHSA Performance Versatility Award. Which means he needed 18 performance cards and they needed to be in English, Western and Other performance classes (minimum of 4 of each type). Really it means he has to be able to do it all and prove it. My goal was to see if I could earn his PVA in three shows. He did it in two.
The only photos I can currently find were taken at the Quabbin Valley Performance Open in April of 2011. Cloud Dancing is wearing tack made by Pam Perkins, a saddle pad made by Elise Partansen and the cowboy was dressed by me and has a head sculpted by Liesl Dalpe.This first entry was a team penning scene. (5th)
which was followed by a non-competitive ranch scene (4th)
This is Flash in the sky. She is wearing a tack set made by Jennifer Buxton with a saddle pad I borrowed from someone that day. I dressed the doll.  This is unrelated to Cloud Dancing's placings but also something that can be done with a standing model. This was a natural trail entry I have done many times with many different models. It nearly always does extremely well (3rd)
Next we are back to Cloud Dancing. His rider is a doll made for me by Joan Yount. Marci Driscoll painted the poles for me and I potted the flowers. (1st)
And something else to do in Arena trail with a standing horse (4th)
I really love this game :) (1st)
A very simple but very correct western riding entry competing in the other western class (1st)
And western pleasure stock type (2nd). They also received western champion
Not the most flattering angle for a showmanship shot. (1st)
And here is my auction scene. I often have more dolls in it. (1st). Cloud Dancing did some other things in the other performance division but I missed getting the photos as I was changing tack and props for other classes. He managed champion in the other performance division as well.
The dressage salute. These days my dolls have bendy necks to do this properly. Cloud Dancing was a good choice for this as he is standing squarely and matches the pose of the reference photo. (3rd)
Here is a tack check before a riding less in other English performance (2nd)
There was a 2nd in Natural trail (no photo) and 1st with this Arena trail entry. Then a first in Hunt seat pleasure other type and Champion in the English performance division.
Cloud Dancing got 1st in Native American costume and then 1st in parade (not photo)
And then 1st in Other Costume dressed as Harry Potter. He also received champion in the costume division.
So in one show this super versatile standing horse received 15 NAN cards and 4 championships. Some classes take a bit of creativity and some classes are just right out. But a standing model can be an extremely versatile performance model. It didn't hurt at all that I love this horse and love showing him.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chooseing a Versatile Performance Horse; Part 2

As promised here is part 2 of choosing a versatile performance horse. I took all of these photos at Factory Ponies Live held last April in Spencer, MA. It's an all OF show and it was full of fantastic entries. Today I will focus on entries from my friend Marci Driscoll (one of the first people to help teach me how to performance show successfully). Marci gave me permission to talk about her entries and all results were pulled from the official show results on
This first photo was (I believe) Other Stockwork. At a guess I would say it was a team penning entry. I am not positive about that. The horse is David's Gift, I am not sure on the tack and I made the doll. This entry was third. 
This next photo showing David's gift again doing a roping entry. They recieved first place.
Next was David's gift in Other Western doing a western riding pattern. The doll was made by Joan Yount. This entry placed 7th in the class. (Marci made the cool birch pole!)
Next was David's Gift doing a fishing game which was good for third place. A trotting model like this Stage Mom is great for any number of games.
David's Gift was first in Western Pleasure out of 16 entries! I believe I missed photos of some of the classes. David's Gift recieved champion in the western division.
This is Afternoon Tea also owned by Marci Driscoll. This was a very cool cross country entry in a huge class. The diorama was made by Marci and everyone felt the need to touch the "water". The entry was fourth place.
The next class was Hunter Jumper. This is the amazing jump that Marci made! (she made me a similar one in trade!) and it has birch poles for jumper classes. It's a stunning jump. The horse is again Afternoon Tea and I believe I made the doll. They recieved second place.
Next Afternoon Tea tried the fishing game in English games. They recieved first place in a large class.
Here are some more of those wonderful birch poles in English trail arena. Afternoon Tea was placed second in this class.
This was Afternoon Tea competing in the Other English class (I can't remember exactly what they were doing). Helped by David's Gift. It's another use of Marci's beatiful diorama. I made both of the dolls. This entry placed 5th
Afternoon Tea with a dressage entry.
And third in Hunt Seat Pleasure. Overall English Reserve champion.
I realize there are not all that many words in this post but everyone likes photos. It's also a very good look at just how versatile this horse can be. I have started using an OF CG Valentine for some OF performance showing and have done well in English, Western and the Other performance divisions as well. I have only done a bit with her in live shows and more in photo shows. She is a very versatile performance horse who can do just about anything and does most things very well. She's a really great choice if you want to work towards a NAMHSA Performance Versatility award, if you want to limit your show string or if you just love the mold. And Marci is a very talented shower with some great ideas.
What it comes down to when choosing a performance horse is think about the classes in a class list and then think if there is a realistic way you can put your horse in those classes. Some horses are really only suited for a couple of classes at most and some are just OK at a whole bunch of classes. Be creative, think about what you like and practice, practice, practice.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Choosing a Versatile Performance Horse; Part 1

Most people probably have at least one horse that is really only good for one or two performance classes. Side passing horses are likely to only be used in dressage, though I have seen them cleverly used in two types of other performance classes. Personally when I choose a new horse for myself I want it to be able to show in as many performance classes as possible. Performance is what I love about model showing and I've gotten pretty good at it. But the stiff competition here in Region X means you bring your A game or don't expect to do more than put your stuff on the table and take it down. I always try to bring my A game.
   These photos were all taken this past August at my friend Kate Cabot's show, More Fun Live; Performance On the Porch. It was literally held on her porches (and was awesome!) I brought a few horses to show but I want to focus on my Leggs resin and all of the things she did that day. My Leggs is is named Caramel Latte and was sculpted by Liesl Dalpe and  painted by Joan Yount. The English tack she is wearing is by Jennifer Buxton and I made the doll. I don't think hunt seat pleasure was the first class of the day for her but maybe it was. She started out with a nice blue ribbon. 
Next Latte competed in Hunt Seat Trail. For anyone that has been enjoying the breakdown of costs the poles actually came with a jump I used to own. And I traded for it. But painted poles are not hard to make and not expensive if you buy them from someone else. The flower pots were 4 for $1 at Michael's and the flowers were also from Michael's and I think they were $1 a bunch. Latte is showing her versatility with a healthy second place.
While Caramel Latte can certainly do English classes there are many that she really can't do. She can't do hunter over fences or jumper, cross country, dressage (not well anyway) and so on. I may have done an Other English class with her and missed the photo. Not sure. So we'll switch over to Western classes. The western set was made by Pam Perkins, the pad is super simple ultra suede over felt with some numbers stuck on and was made by me. The pole was a white painted dowel and the two barrels were soup cans. 1 I got from a friend because he had too many (and I gave him some arena fences because I had too many...) and the other came with a props lot I got for a bargain price. The documentation is again from Jennifer Buxton's wonderful two barrels and a pole post.
Because I really do have a deep love of dolls I wanted to do a leadline class. Which was perfect for my Other Western entry. I made a little junior rider in pink and black to match my showmanship doll. I also made a pair of little buddy stirrups so I wouldn't have to change saddles to use the junior rider. A simple card stating it was leadline, cute dolls and that was good for first.
Next up was western trail. The photo was taken from this angle because we were all amazed that all of the horses in the class were regular horse colored! Not a spot on a one of them! It was the most true to life model horse class any of us had ever seen. I don't remember how Latte placed.
Next up was western pleasure. This was also another head-to-head competition in the Red Leggs Rivalry between my friend Marisa Evans and I. Because horse showing on it's own isn't enough fun for us apparently! It's a fun little extra competition that I am sure makes us both work harder. It paid off in the pleasure class.

The western call backs came at the same time I was trying to get Latte ready for her Native American costume class. So she went up dressed for it. (I just figured out she got 3rd in her trail class) Latte managed champion in the western division!
And then she also got first in Native American costume. I actually did a partial trade for the costume, Joan Yount sculpted the head for me and I dressed the doll.
I completely forgot to bring my halter to the show (what a goof!) so I borrowed this one from Jackie Rossi. I believe this is a Susan Bensema Young Halter. The red and the pink weren't a super match but the entry was correct and they managed 1st place.
There must have been another class in the other performance division that I didn't get a photo of. I think it was creative showmanship maybe. Or other performance. Either way, I am pretty sure I did my auction set-up. Mostly it's an excuse to use all of the dolls I have. It's a lot of fun to set up. Latte managed to get champion in the other performance division as well.
So all in all I think Caramel Latte showed in 9 classes at this show and received two divisional championships. She certainly can't do everything but she is a very versatile show horse. When I am picking a horse I try to think about how many classes they could possibly do. A walking, standing or trotting horse can do a very large number of classes in every division. Even a cantering horse can do many many classes (and you can throw in the jumping classes and do well). When you choose a horse try to think of all the classes you could put it in. And then ask yourself if you would have fun showing that horse. Because if you're not having fun why bother?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Budget showing with a twist

My last blog post was a basic breakdown of the costs of showing in the western division. Which of course was just one example as depending on exactly what your set-ups are or the costs of your horses, tack and props it could be considerably different. However if you take care of your showing items they should last you for years and years (and then some more years).
   Last April I was judging at Quabbin Valley Performance Open, held in Spencer MA. I judged the entire AR/CM performance division so could not show in it. I was however allowed to show in the OF division. I didn't want to overload myself because I was judging but I have been chasing a Superior Event Horse award with my side saddle Strapless, Lady Intrigue. She needs to retire so I am trying to get her that last therapeutic riding card that she needs. Those of you that have been reading my blog for awhile will recognize all of these photos from the show report but the story here is a bit different.
   Originally I was just going to bring Lady and show her in Other English to try for the Therapeutic riding card I needed for her card collection. Then I thought it would be fun to do the entire division with therapeutic riding set-ups (not that I can use the extra cards). It was a fun challenge. My second self challenge was to fit everything I needed to show (other than the horse) in a shoebox. Mission accomplished.
   Here is the monetary breakdown for the first scene:
Side saddle Strapless- $70 for the set (I got it when it came out, before the prices went up)
Ultra suede footing- $5 a yard on sale (this is actually less than a yard and made several pieces of footing)
Jennifer Buxton English tack set-(trade!) $300ish value
halter/leadline/reins- homemade, $5 or less of materials
Leader doll- homemade, maybe $75 if I bought her
male sidewalker doll- (bendy guy) $150 if purchased
teenage doll in pink (semi-portrait of my daughter)- $150 if purchased
youth rider doll (semi-portrait of my son)- $150
ground poles- $1 or less
cones- came from the Breyer trail set, $30 set (?)
OK, so IF I had actually paid money for everything I put on the table this set-up would have been $936. But you have to consider that I was using top quality tack and 4 dolls. Since I made the dolls and traded for the tack my actual cost was about $196. I included the cost of materials to make the dolls I used and the dolls I traded to Jennifer. So I paid that money once and then...
I used most of the same items again. Same show even. Same dolls (mostly), tack, horse and some different props. The rider doll was one I made but it's not mine. I borrowed it from my friend Joan Fauteux who was also the show holder. There is no cost to borrow from your friends and that's awesome! The props changed a bit for the scene. I actually borrowed those as well. I used stitch counting rings (for knitting) squinkees and the balls they came in for toys. I borrowed the rings from my friend Melissa and the toys from her daughter. If I had bought my own (which I have) it would have been $3 for the rings (a BIG pack) and $2 each for a pack of 2. I bought 5 packs because they were on sale. So I have now added $13 to my investment. This was the "Other English" class that I needed the therapeutic card from.

For my next entry I again used the same horse, same tack, same dolls and I switched up the props again. The bridge is from the same Breyer trail set which we have already accounted for with the cones in the first scene and I don't need to add that again. The only other difference is the trail mat. Now that was fun to make. It's a bit messy at times but it was fun. I used a piece of ultra suede (also already accounted for) and some model train "grass" It was a few bits leftover from another project and would amount to $5 or less (probably way less as they were leftovers).

My next class at the show was the the trail class. I use documentation I made from photos of my son riding, a picture of the trail patterned used in the therapeutic trail class from one of the shows and all the same dolls, the same horse and so on that I already used previously in the show. I again used the cones from the first scene so this class was $0 more.
The last class was pleasure and while I thought about using the therapeutic riding team again I decided to just do run-of-the-mill pleasure class with a regular hunt seat rider. Same horse, same tack minus the halter and a different doll. Again, I made the doll but if she was purchased she would be $150.
At the end of the day Lady Intrigue came home with 4 NAN cards and OF English champion. The initial investment was significant (if I had paid with money for everything) but I can now use those dolls over and over again for a variety of things, the tack will last a long long time and the props have multiple uses as well. The fun thing about this particular show was the personal challenge of seeing if not only could I do an entire division with minimal props but could I do it mostly in therapeutic riding style. The judge loved it, I had a lot of fun and it was refreshing to do something so unusual.
So at the end of the day it comes down to several things. You don't necessarily have to spend a ton of money to show well and have a good time. I happen to be in love with Jennifer Buxton's tack and that is what I choose to use. I could have (and I have) used an English tack set I made myself. The cost of that was probably about $35 including a pewter tree and cast bit. I don't love it as much as my Braymere tack but it works well. Most of the dolls (all of them really in a pinch) COULD have been out of the box dolls. I make dolls so enjoy making them. And I enjoy occasionally seeing just how many I can use in a scene. The props I used on this day were super cost effective. The horse happens to be an OF that is not bottom of the barrel pricing (but not that bad really). And again I will say, if you just want to try out performance showing, pick out a horse and see what you can borrow. After that if you discover you love it decide what you can invest in show show equipment. And get a bit at a a time.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Live showing in the western division on a budget

Readers of Jennifer Buxton's blog will know that in a recent post she discussed performance showing. She also talked about how scary a lot of people think performance showing is. I was reading through the comments and saw some really great questions from people on how to show successfully in performance on a budget. So I thought I would snag that idea and do a post on getting the most bang for your buck in the western performance division.
This first entry can be seen in a couple of ways. If we take it on exact face value it was a bit expensive. Here is a breakdown:
cows:$60-$80 each X3 cows
ultra suede footing (on sale): $5 a yard
Breyer pipe fencing: $20
Breyer Seabiscuit: $20 OF bargain!
Saddle: set was $300
bridle: homemade...$10 or less of material with cast bit
boots: $20 on MH$P
cowboy: I made him and Liesl Dalpe sculpted the head. IF he was purchased today would be about a $200 doll.
So if we take this one entry, exactly as is it cost about $785 to put together (holy cow!) However I have also done this same entry with borrowed cows, a saddle I made myself from a $25 Rio Rondo kit and you could use a Breyer cowboy ($13 out of the box) as they aren't too disgusting. They are but not too bad. So you could do this set-up for about $113 if you made a saddle from a kit, borrowed some cows and used an out of the box Breyer. I should totally do that to prove it's true.
But let's take the set-up on face value again. What I actually paid (or would have paid if I had to purchase) for the items. Here are most of them again in this natural trail set-up. I left off the cow numbers (which were hand written on card stock with a sharpie marker) and instead of the pipe fencing I have a diorama I made. The total cost of the diorama supplies (which would make more than one piece) was about $30 or less. I have now done team penning (other stock work) and natural trail with the same items.
This next entry is a game. The now semi-famous two barrels and a pole game using Jennifer Buxton's blog photos as reference. I now am only using the horse, tack and doll and have added two painted soup cans and a painted pole. VERY cheap props. This game nearly always gets first.
Next I used the same horse, same tack and same doll and added a bridge from the Breyer trail set ($30 for the set?) a couple of painted poles, and potted flowers. The flowers were made from $1 bouquets I got at Michael's in tiny Terra cotta pots (also about $1 for 2)
So depending on if you get the fancy fancy stuff or make your own tack and doll items (or use out of box dolls) you can do the entire western division for a little over $100 on a budget or go up and up from there. And maybe if you just want to give performance a try you might ask a performance showing friend if you can borrow some items and try it out. It never hurts to ask and you might just find that you love it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

editing the MEPSA champ show book

For people that show with MEPSA or at least are part of the MEPSA yahoo group and read posts you probably know that last year I was the editor of the champ show book. I didn't have to make up absolutely everything as I had 3 previous books to comb through for ideas. But I didn't want to make the book just like the others. So the first thing I switched up was the cover
I really like the color red and this dressage ring photo was horse related but completely different from any of the previous covers of the champ show book. The photo dictated the font colors and I think the final result was interesting to look at as well as easy to read. Honestly, just about the hardest part of a layout like this is making sure everything is easy to read. When I found out I could change the name of the book to anything I wanted I made up a new one. I like it.
   The next layout challenge was the back cover. Of the three previous champ show books I have one back cover was blank, one had an explanation of what MEPSA is (I think...) and the other had a nice photo of some of the prizes. So I had to come up with something interesting for the back cover but again, I didn't want to just copy what had already been done. My good friend Joan Yount had written a funny poem about the hobby. She said maybe I could find a spot in the book for it. Well it seemed like the perfect thing to put on the back cover. Here is the poem since I don't think the photo is clear enough to read it:

Poem by Joan Yount

My Name is (fill it in) and I am a Model Horse Addict…

We’re united by a habit that stems from childhood days
For those of us who by no choice succumb to horsey ways.
It may have started with a Hartland, or some other nameless plastic
And grew by leaps to customs that are simple, major, drastic.
Some money may be spent for sure that’s saved for bills like cable,
But we go to MH$P and buy what we are able!
Plastics call, resins beckon, be they unpainted or painted -
Those of us who can resist to buy them should be sainted!
Who’s to say where it starts, but we all know where it leads us -
We’re addicted to an equine habit that so sustains and feeds us.
With horses real or not so real, these models fill our stables
And pastures, shelves, nooks and corners, desks and kitchen tables.
Some eat real hay, you can ride them, others collect some dust,
But the sight of something with 4 hooves drives us to buy or bust.
So girls, why fight it, it’s not so bad, let’s buy to our heart’s content -
For deep inside, we all know, horses are Heaven sent!
So the poem went on the back of the book and then I thought, why not get more MEPSA people involved? So I started posting asking for photos of everyone's collection. Or at least a portion of the collection. Those photos all went on the back of the book as a nice (and fitting) frame for Joan's model horse obsession poem. And it was fun.
This year I volunteered to edit the champ show book again. I have some of the same dilemma as I don't want it to be just the same as last year. But it is easier this year as well. I already have a good idea of what will fit and how to stuff things in so they still look good, are easy to read and I can get more in. I have a completely different cover design worked out (but I won't share it because it's a surprise!). I have started working on the inside of the book. Or at least what I can work on before the articles arrive. Once those get here I will have lots to keep me occupied and lots of fun things to do with the 2013 MEPSA champ show book. I again have no idea what to do for the back cover. So I am open to suggestions. Even multiple suggestions. What would make a nice back cover? A photo? Another poem? Maybe a short story or some original art (not from me, I really can't draw that well)? Any and all ideas are welcome.