Thursday, February 11, 2016


Real horses

First of all, I have a couple quick comments about PNER Convention 2016. It was GREAT! 

Sue Garlinghouse alone was worth 5x the cost of admission. I took so many notes between what she said and what Robin Ryner said. You should see the list of requirements I’m compiling for when I start horse shopping again. (I mean, you will see it eventually. That’s what blogs are for.)

Heather was staying at my house for convention as usual, but this year she was a speaker (in fact, the very first speaker of convention), so we had a little more of a time crunch than we’ve had in the past. Her presentation was aimed at either newbies looking for how to get started and/or more seasoned people looking to increase their distance. The impetus for her doing it was her frustration (OUR frustration really, in the early days) that no one would provide a straight answer about conditioning.

The answer to “How much should I condition my horse for my first 25?” is almost invariably “Every horse is different, so I can’t give you an answer to that.” And while that answer is technically true, it doesn’t offer the absolute green newbie any clue at all about where to start or what to expect—not even a rough guideline for them to build on. So Heather combined what she’s learned in the sport with responses from some of the region’s most respected riders and came up with a presentation I wish I had seen in 2008. If you want a copy of the power point, let me know. I have it because I helped edit it. :)

Model horses

Initially, the model horse showing thing was kind of a lark. I went to the shows in Walla Walla mostly because it was a good excuse to visit all my friends in Walla Walla. And then, once I had work space again, it became an excuse to produce models for sale.

Now we’ve moved into the next phase: Meeting new (local)people, not just visiting the Wallas for fun.

So, OK, endurance friends. Allow me to geek out on you for a minute.

There is this thing called BreyerFest. It is a huuuuuuge model horse convention held at the Kentucky Horse Park every summer. This is like San Diego Comic Con for model horses. Whatever ridiculous thing you are picturing, just double it. There is a sales tent there that is known as the Ninja Pit of Death (aka, the NPOD) where people have been seriously hurt fighting over the rarest models at the lowest prices.

The problem with BreyerFest is that it’s always in Kentucky, which is not very convenient for the sizeable West Coast contingent of the hobby.

So, this year, there is also BreyerWest… at the NW Horse Expo in Albany (OR). So convenient! Packed with model horse people from my general area! Obviously I’m going. The show portion is going to be amazing. The list of judges includes some of the top people in the hobby on a national level. (I can’t think of a good endurance analogy, so maybe think of it like you are having a pre-purchase evaluation done by Valerie Kanavy, Jeremy Reynolds and Linda Tellington-Jones.)

With judging on that level, I felt like I needed to step up my game, so the batch of horses I’m feverishly trying to finish in time for March 18 may well be some of the best work I’ve ever done. No joke. I just hope the paint is dry in time.

One source of anxiety for me as a working artist is that Breyer is upping their A-game on their standard-issue models (what people in the biz call OF/original finish). The nicer the sculpting and the greater the variety of colors available direct from Breyer, the harder it is for a consumer to justify the cost of a customized model. After all, if I can get something this nice off the shelf at my local feed store for ~$50, why would anyone pay hundreds of dollars for a little leg bending and a paint job from me? (And yes, all three of the models below were/are off-the-shelf Breyers. My carpet herd from 30 years ago doesn’t hold a candle to the caliber of models available now.)

The models below have all been available in mass-market tack stores in the past 5 years. Are you kidding me, Breyer?