Monday, May 12, 2014

Make money in the horse business

Haha. Made you look! As far as I know, it is impossible to make money in the horse business. If you are here you almost certainly know the aphorism: How do you make a small fortune in the horse business? Start with a large fortune.

You know from reading this blog an all the others that endurance is, shall we say, a money-intensive pursuit. What with all the custom saddles, veterinary attention, remedial farriery and whatnot, it is a wonder I can feed and clothe myself.

Lots of E-riders have side businesses to help defray the cost of competing. Heather has her hats. Aarene is an overachiever who writes entire books. I know others who have gotten into various ventures like Scentsy, Pampered Chef and the like. I started a thread on AERC facebook today to see what others are doing, too. A lot of them were in-person sales. I am not so good at sales. Even worse at "in-person."

So I am here to thank Shana for dragging me back into theworld of model horses, where I have a few marketable skills.

If you are a friend on Facebook, you probably caught this picture of my workbench overflowing with horses in various stages of customization. I consider them my plastic nest-egg.

You think I’m kidding? Feast your eyes on this guy:

Photo by Mel Miller. Horse by Mel Miller. Photo is presented here purely for drool-inducing purposes.

Now, granted, the horse above isn’t one that I did (I wish!). He was created by an outstanding artist in the Seattle area, Melanie Miller. But let me direct your attention to his final bid price at auction:

Yes. That customized plastic horse cost the same as my last two real horses put together.

He started out as this guy, a model you can buy at your local feed store for about $40.

And while I am nowhere near Mel in either skill or the prices I can command, the last one I completed paid for my entry to Grizzly Mountain and all the gas to get there and back. 

I call him Money In The Bank.

Was creating him profitable? Probably not when you figure in all the hours I spent. On the other hand, I do enjoy the sculpting and painting, and I want to be doing it anyway, so the actual cost of that time is hard to calculate.

My real job is salaried, so I can’t exactly pick up extra hours when I need pocket money. Not complaining, BTW. Love my job. But I’m hoping the models will help with the shortfalls when they happen. It would be nice to have a comfy, model-shaped cushion next time Blue decides to maim himself or the truck catches on fire or whatever.

So, here’s who’s on the workbench right now:

Totes Magotes! Is a sabino ¾ paint/Arabian. Tons of individual hairs. He started out a minimal sabino that quickly got out of hand. Now every time I walk by him I feel compelled to tick in a few more white spots.

Big Red’s name is an homage to my alma mater. He’s a chunky QH reiner-type. I’m thinking blood bay with dapples.

The Paso Twins are going to be a seal brown tobiano and a flaxen chestnut. One of them is going to be donated as a raffle item for Shana’s Sweet Onion Live 3 model horse show in August. The other one will be a sales piece.

I'm working o a breed assignment for this gaited pony. GaliceƱo? American Walking Pony? It has to be someone who can rack because that’s what he’s doing. I completely rebuilt the head from scratch on an armature and am ridiculously proud of how it came out. I’m a lousy sculptor, but I am learning! There are tons of great tutorials out there that didn’t exist when I first got into custom model horses in the mid-1990s.

Don't you just wanna smooch his chunky little pony face?

Barred M Masquerade has a sad story. I actually finished her in time to show her at Bethany’s Card Shark Live back in March. She did great, winning both of her classes and getting a lot of attention because of her weird (but well-documented) color. Well, on the way home she suffered a tragic tail-ectomy and a severed ear. I tried to superglue them, but the pieces didn’t match perfectly and my paint touch-ups were too obvious.

At the show, before her career-ending accident.

Today, back in primer... mostly.
I resigned myself to starting over. She went into a bath of paint stripper to take her back down to bare plastic. After weeks of sanding and scrubbing, she is just about ready to paint again. Should I do the crazy color again? Do I have the energy? Or is it time to make her a more sedate, “normal” mule color?

And when these guys are done, there are a bunch more plastic ponies in the peanut gallery, just waiting for me to approach them with a hacksaw and a vision.

In the meantime, though, I have a real horse I'm taking to Mt. Adam's this coming weekend to attempt 50 miles. The weather looks marginal for Saturday, which is a shame since it is going to be gorgeous all week. Hopefully the rain will stay away long enough to preserve the footing and give us an easy trip. Wish us luck!


  1. Those models are beautiful! You are very talented. See you at Mt Adams!

  2. As a kid I was always dismayed that the Breyers didn't have the attention to detail they should have in my mind. Things that troubled me were the hooves and ears and eyes. I mean, how hard can it be to simply use the right paint color to make the models look realistic? From this blog post now I know about resculpting, wow.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I see Seattle Native's hooves, shoes, nails! chestnuts, and mostly realistic coloring. (Eyes too light, and the coloring on his neck is odd.)

    My favorite model is Weather Girl, and I just found the artist's website, and it seems all my favorites are sold out. Take a look: (click Resins, Araber - oh hey, she's in Germany!)

    1. Brigitte is the "it" artist in model horses and has been for years now. She pretty much sets the standard, and you can see why. That said, my favorite sculpt is by a different artist. Check out Stormwatch: