Guide to Surviving a Live Model Horse Show

Introduction

Of the many activities available to model horse collectors, one of the most prevalent and popular is model horse shows. Model horse shows enable collectors to showcase their best models and demonstrate how accurately they portray real horses. Attending your first live model horse show (a model horse show held in a show hall) might seem scary and complicated, but the right preparation makes the process much easier.

This is what the first side of a toe tag normally looks like. You might have a bit of trouble reading it here, but it lists the horse's name, breed, and gender. The exhibitor's name is on the other side.
This is what the first side of a toe tag normally looks like. You might have a bit of trouble reading it here, but it lists the horse's name, breed, and gender. The exhibitor's name is on the other side.

Getting Started

If you're interested in attending a model horse show, the obvious first step is to find one near you. This takes a bit of effort since model horse shows are not widely advertised, but the available resources will provide several options for shows. A good online resource for finding shows is http://www.breyerhorses.com/local_events. There might also be listings on sites such as Google, but the Breyer site is very reliable. Another way to learn about model horse shows is to sign up for tack shop mailing lists since these establishments often sponsor or host model horse shows. When you do find a model horse show listing, use the contact information to ask the following questions:

  • How much is the entry fee? Nearly every model horse show has a fee of some sort, but there is usually a discrepancy between fees for novice and experienced exhibitors. Also, some shows provide discounts for 4-H members.
  • Will it pay for half a table or a whole table? The entry fee usually includes half of an eight foot table for setting up the model horses for their classes; an extra half-table often costs a little more.
  • What information should be on the toe tags? Toe tags are little white office tags that are looped around one of the model's hind legs and serve to identify the model. The usual formula for filling out a tag is to put the horse's name, breed, and gender on one side and the exhibitor's name on the other; however, there are exceptions to this rule, so make sure you're following the show's specific rules for toe tags.
  • How many horses am I allowed per class? Show rules tend to limit how many models an exhibitor can enter in each class.

Before
Before
After
After

Preparing for the Show: Tack Adjustments

Once you've registered for a show, it' important to make sure your models and tack are in the best possible condition. Sometimes the tack needs to be adjusted so it better fits the horse. In the picture on the top, you can see where the noseband on the halter is a bit lower than it should be. By undoing the cheek straps with some tweezers and regluing the the straps, I adjusted the noseband for a better fit.

Before the Sharpie
Before the Sharpie

Preparing for the Show: Horse Adjustments

As important as it is for the tack to be in excellent condition, it is just as important--if not more so--for the model to be in outstanding condition as well. To ensure your model places as high as possible, examine it for any obvious flaws such as scratches, rub marks, or bent limbs. Scratches and rub marks can usually be fixed with Sharpie markers. In the provided example, I matched a Sharpie to a model's color and filled in a rub mark on its leg.

It is also extremely important to straighten any bent limbs; otherwise, the model will be marked down. Fortunately, straightening limbs is relatively. Boil some water, pour it into a cup deep enough for the limb, and soak the appendage for at least thirty seconds. After this, remove the model and bend the leg in whatever direction it needs to be. If the leg isn't pliable enough, you will probably have to soak it a bit longer until it is ready for re-positioning.

After the Sharpie
After the Sharpie
This model's left front leg goes out at an angle that would get it marked down at a model horse show. It needs to be brought back.
This model's left front leg goes out at an angle that would get it marked down at a model horse show. It needs to be brought back.
After soaking in boiling water, the leg was pliable enough to be brought into its proper position.
After soaking in boiling water, the leg was pliable enough to be brought into its proper position.
This is what an entry for Western Pleasure would look like complete with an information card.
This is what an entry for Western Pleasure would look like complete with an information card.
This is what an entry for a halter class would look like with an information card.
This is what an entry for a halter class would look like with an information card.

Preparing for the Show: Information Cards

Information cards are important at model horse shows. Although not every show requires them, they give the overall entry a slight edge because it shows you've researched your hobby. The information on the cards can vary depending on the class entered. For performance classes, the information card should usually give a brief explanation of what the horse is doing and include a pattern of the event (a little drawing explaining where the horse is for a specific routine such as trail or dressage). Cards used for halter (breed) classes are considerably simpler; they just require a brief background of the breed's history. Before you type the cards, though, be sure to check the show rules to see what is required.

The Night Before

On the night before the model horse show, you should pack everything you plan to take in the morning so you're not scrambling frantically for everything five minutes before you have to leave. Also, packing early gives you the opportunity to ensure you've got all the supplies you'll need for the show--tacky wax for bridle bits, Sharpies for emergency repairs, props for performance classes, etc. It is also a good idea to tack any performance entries the night before so that they only need minor adjustments before the actual show. If possible, you should tag all of your show horses, too, making it one less thing to do the morning of the show. Finally, pack something to amuse yourself during the show. Judging can take quite a long time, so that nice, thick book you've been planning to read for the last three months can save you from slow death by boredom.

Some shows place your names on your tables; others assign you exhibitor numbers. It's important to check with the registration desk to learn what your exhibitor number is.
Some shows place your names on your tables; others assign you exhibitor numbers. It's important to check with the registration desk to learn what your exhibitor number is.

The Day of the Show

Once you arrive at the show hall on the morning of the show, you'll want to unload your car and find your table. Check in at the registration desk to find where your table is. Once you've located your table, you can begin setting up your models. As you unpack your models, there are some general rules you'll want to keep in mind such as preparing the performance models first. They usually take the longest to get ready, and this way you'll know they are ready for their class. Also, you should arrange everything in an orderly fashion so you can reach it when you have to. I would suggest arranging the models by the order of their classes to avoid frantically searching for the model that's supposed to be judged next. Finally--and perhaps most importantly--lay any wobbly models on their sides to avoid the dreaded "model dominoes", a situation where one model falls over and takes out half a row of other models.

Showing

The preparation might seem complicated, but showing itself is actually pretty easy. Model horse "show rings" (which are actually two or more tables shoved together) have the class names on the front so you can enter the right horse in the right class. The judge will usually notify exhibitors when they are allowed to set up for a class and how much time they have for preparation. When the class closes, it's best to keep out of the judge's way. Judging is difficult work; avoiding distracting the judge makes the process much smoother and faster. And that's all there is to it!

Summary

When you decide to enter a model horse show, be sure to find specific information such as table size, number of models allowed per class, and registration fee before the show. Make sure your tack and models are in the best possible condition to ensure your chances of bringing home lots of blue ribbons. Keep to a set schedule as much as possible to avoid losing your sanity, but most importantly, remember to have fun! Model horse shows are a great place to catch up with old friends and make new ones, and they're meant to be fun activities for people who love model horses.

Comments 1 comment

Abbey Lynn 3 years ago

This is at the PA State 4H Model Horse Show! I went in 2012 and i'm going again this year in, 2013. Would you know of anyone who could sell me an LSQ Western saddle and tack for the show pretty cheap? Or if you would have any for sale? My email is abbeylynn1999@hotmail.com if you could message me back :)

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