Saturday, July 6, 2019

What to Find at BreyerFest

I'm enjoying the social media flurry of discussions by model horse collectors anticipating BreyerFest 2019.  This annual event offers us many things to enjoy.

We like seeing real horses of many breeds.

Funny Cide, Thoroughbred champion.

TS Black Tie Affair, 7/8ths Arabian pinto, and his person Jan Sharp.

Another Thoroughbred legend with attitude: Go For Gin.

Draft horse at the Kentucky Horse Park.

An Arabian horse draws a crowd of admirers during BreyerFest.

A Standardbred gives his opinion of the photographer.

We enjoy visiting the local equine history museums, including those inside the Kentucky Horse Park.

Paintings by George Ford Morris, inside the Saddlebred Museum.
Statue of Man O'War at the Kentucky Horse Park.

Secretariat, by Ed Bogucki, near the entrance to the International Museum of the Horse.

*Bask, by Ed Bogucki, inside the entrance to the International Museum of the Horse.  Make sure to visit the Museums while you are at BreyerFest. They offer a wealth of wonderful information...and they're air-conditioned.

We love to see the rolling green pastures that are the homes of so many mares and their foals.

And of course there are model horse shows, crafts and other activities. But the main reason most people go to BreyerFest is to buy and sell new and used model horses!  

The sheer number of model horses for sale is almost overwhelming. Not only do collectors line up to purchase and pick up the Special Run Breyers at the event itself, and more model horses at the Friday night Swap Meet inside the host hotel -- they also have the opportunity to see tens of thousands more model horses for sale (I'm not exaggerating) by hundreds of collectors who prop open their hotel room doors in the evenings during the event, to let passers-by see what they are selling. 

BreyerFest is a great way to see examples of older and newer model horses by a variety of manufacturers, as well as the limited editions and one-of-a-kind creations of model horse artisans.

Model horses inside The Horse You Want suite, at a past BreyerFest.

Attending BreyerFest can be exhausting, for collectors and their families.  It's usually hot and humid outside. The lines inside the Horse Park can be long, and sometimes emotions run high. 

We all should try to stay safe, sane, and hydrated.

My advice for dealing with BreyerFest stress is simple: 

Find, or rediscover, the real joy of the model horse hobby. Be kind. 

Chat with other people while you wait in line.  Encourage them. Rejoice when someone else is able to find something they love.

If you're a younger collector, find a collector with gray hair and ask her, or him, how they first got into the hobby. What was model horse collecting like, before the Internet?  

You will see many hobbyists walking through the Horse Park and hotel hallways who took part in organized hobby activities by mail or in local model horse clubs, back in the late 1960s or early 1970s.  The reason you are at BreyerFest today, has a lot to do with the hard work they did, figuring out how to connect hobbyists with one another, all those years ago.  

The reason we young-at-heart collectors attend BreyerFest (when we are able) is yes, in part, to buy and sell. But more importantly, it's also to connect with our old hobby friends so we can share the joy of model horses.  

If you're an older collector, find a younger one and talk to her (or him) about what got them into the hobby. Ask what they're hoping to buy.  

Tell their parents that it doesn't matter if they don't exactly understand why model horse collecting is so important to their child.  What matters, is that they understand that it is important to their child.

And please, encourage younger collectors to look not only at the (often rather pricey) new-in-box pieces, but also the older, often less expensive model horses that need a good home.   

As I explained to an eight-year-old collector with a small budget last year, a nice vintage model horse can be found in the room sales for well under $20, sometimes even in the $1 to $5 range.  

Buy an old model horse, take it home. (Who cares if it isn't "perfect?" None of us is, especially the older we get.  It can still be Perfectly Wonderful.)

Give your model horse a name and a personality. Make it a halter and a blanket. Play with it on the carpet, or in the backyard. 

Let it be part of your dreams.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

(Model and Book) Horses On Parade

The Fourth of July always makes me think about parades. And when I think about parades, I naturally think about parades with horses in them.  Those are the best kind, especially when you're a kid.

One of my favorite children's horse book series has always been the four "Windy Foot" books, by Frances Frost, illustrated by Lee Townsend. It tells the adventures of Toby Clark and his Shetland Pony, Windy Foot, in rural Vermont. The stories are set back in the day when horses and cars still shared the road.

The final book in the series is called Fireworks for Windy Foot. In it, Toby learns more about what it means to be an American (in that not-so-long-ago day when life seemed less complicated), and Windy Foot gets to participate in the local Fourth of July parade. Toby's younger brother Johnny portrays Yankee Doodle "riding on a pony" in the celebration.

(Since I practically had the "Windy Foot" books memorized, I donated my copies to the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library at Cal Poly Pomona, so more people can enjoy them.)

Another children's horse book with a parade is Marguerite Henry's Justin Morgan Had a Horse.  Wesley Dennis' illustration of the great progenitor of the Morgan horse breed on parade is familiar to all fans of the book.

There's a model horse connection to horses in parades that dates back to the 1950s when these horse books were so popular.  Some of the ceramic Hagen-Renaker model horses on my shelves were designed by Maureen Love, after real horses that participated in parades all over Southern California throughout the year.

The most familiar parade horses are American Saddlebred stallion King Cortez and his sons, Golden Son Cortez and Golden Don Cortez.  They were popular entries in the annual Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California, and took part in many other Southern California parades throughout the year with their owners, the Specht family.

Look at those silver saddles.  King Cortez (on the right, I think) was quite tall, 17.2 hands high, which helps explain how he was able to carry all that weight.

I imagine it would have been problematic to try to re-create those long, long manes and tails in ceramic! Here are examples of all three Hagen-Renaker horses: left to right, "Don Cortez" in black, "King Cortez" in palomino, and "Sun Cortez" in white.  

The earlier, Monrovia-era version of "Sun Cortez" does have a rather long mane.

And you can see the similarities in the face of the real King Cortez, and the H-R of the same name.

Another parade horse that inspired a Hagen-Renaker figurine was the Morgan stallion Lippitt Morman.  His last owner, Merle Little, lived in Monrovia, California, not far from the Hagen-Renaker factory at the time.

Lippitt Morman is on the far right of this photo of the Little family, who were looking forward to participating in the 1949 Tournament of Roses Parade.

Photo from the December 1948 issue of Morgan Horse magazine.

This photograph shows a Hagen-Renaker "Lippet" (the company misspelled the name) on display at the W. K. Kellogg Arabian Horse Library's exhibit on the history of Hagen-Renaker, next to a reproduction of one of Maureen Love's pastel drawings of him.

They may not have had model horses created in their image, but these horses helped carry the flag at BreyerFest in July 2018.  Maybe we'll see them, or their friends, in Lexington at BreyerFest next week!



Here's Kristina Lucas Francis' blog post about Sun Cortez:

Here's Dawn Sinkovich's blog post about Maureen Love and Lippitt Morman, with many, many more photos:

The Vermont Historical Society website has a page on author Frances Mary Frost:

The Rancho Santa Fe, California Historical Society has a short biography of Marguerite Henry you may not have seen before: