Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring break

My kids aren't horse lovers. They don't collect model horses or read horse books or cover the pages of their notebooks with drawings of horses.

They are, however, horse likers. They enjoy going to the barn and recently have expressed an interest in riding on a more regular basis. Today we took advantage of the beautiful spring weather and drove out to Parker for a fun and informal riding lesson. Ryan rode Punky (the bay) and James rode Tyson (the chestnut).
Mostly we worked on starting, stopping and steering. The boys did very well, but there were still a few traffic jams.
Ryan is working on his heels down leg position. Both boys are talking about going riding more often so I guess I'm going to have to think about investing in boots.
James practiced riding Tyson in and out of the round pen. Tyson was in such a good mood. He can be a bit of a sourpuss but today he was the picture of cooperation.
Cara waited very patiently while the kids rode, but I could tell that she was eager to have a turn. Eventually I called James over and unsaddled Tyson.
All smiles! This was worth the wait!James decided to try out Punky and immediately encountered steering issues. Luckily Cara was there to give him a lead.
I hadn't planned to ride today, but I was unable to resist. Doesn't Punky look thrilled?
We ended the day with a mini trail ride down the driveway.
Three happy kids and two very patient horses!
Weather permitting, Cara and I will go riding again on Friday. After all, there's no better way to enjoy Spring Break!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Project pony updates

Slowly but surely, my RB Romke resin is nearing completion. I've spent the last couple days working on hooves.
The current trend in the hobby is to paint highly detailed hooves with both horizontal growth rings and vertical stripes. When this is done well (ala Jennifer Danza) it looks wonderful. Unfortunately a lot of times it isn't done well, and now I know why. Oh, this is hard!

I think I'm getting there, though.
Little Experiment has a new hairdo...
and a fresh coat of primer.
At this stage, the primer is a customizing aid not a base for paint. I spray it on, let it dry and then begin sanding. Although his barrel had looked perfectly smooth, I can now see that there were several low spots.
A bit further into the process. Experiment's barrel is smooth but there's still a lot of work to do his belly and hindquarters. The last picture is not an update but a "backdate." This Regan's Alyssa/Elissa (I still don't know which one is right!) as she looked in 1994. Not half bad but I have no doubt she'll look even better when her makeover is complete!
Well, back to sanding and painting--these ponies have been languishing on the shelf long enough. It's time to get them finished!

Monday, March 29, 2010

It's a rat's life

My kids are the proud owners of what are arguably the two most spoiled rats in the world. Basil and Cinnamon have everything a rat could hope for--lots of love and attention, plentiful food and water, a palatial cage, all kinds of healthy snacks and a plethora of rodent toys including a giant exercise ball.

Yesterday someone posted a link to this picture on Model Horse Blab:I took one look and knew that I was going to be borrowing the rats' excercise ball sooner or later. This morning I had some time to kill so...
It needs some fine-tuning, but I am pleased with my efforts. I wonder how this would go over at a live show? I don't usually show Original Finish models in performance, but I am really tempted to give this a shot. At the very least, it would be a good conversation piece!

Unfortunately, I don't have much information about the original picture. The caption that accompanied it reads: “French rider Olivier Garcia rides his horse Emir et Djugut inside a giant plastic bubble during training for the grand opening of the Stockholm International Horse Show at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, Nov. 29, 2006. ”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Barstool saddles

Thank you everyone for your comments on yesterday's post. It's funny. That was intended to be a humorous entry but it resulted in a lot of serious discussion. Go figure.

My old boss at Brighton Feed had a name for the kind of really low end Western saddles like those I featured yesterday. He called them "barstool saddles," and he always kept a few on hand to sell to as decor to Steakhouses and other Western themed businesses.

It seems he's not the only one to have that idea. Here's an advertisement for a company that specializes in turning old trophy saddles into barstools.
And speaking of trophy saddles....
There were several painted leather trophy saddles on display at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo. I can't decided if I like the look or not, but it would be kind of fun to try this in miniature.
Kids are on spring break this week, so I'm not sure how much time I'll have for blogging. This would be a really great time for guest blogger pieces, show photos or pictures of tack made from BCS blog tutorials!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two hundred dollars

That's the price of a brand new English saddle from Braymere Custom Saddlery. I didn't choose that number arbitrarily. It's based on several factors including a reasonable hourly wage for me, the cost of supplies and prices of comparable model saddles from other tackmakers. Honestly, I think I could charge a bit more, but for the time being, I'm pretty comfortable at two hundred dollars.

Still, there are always going to be some people who think that is way, way too much for a "toy" saddle. These are usually the same people who feel compelled to tell me that they could buy a real saddle for that amount.

I know I shouldn't be bothered by that, but it's hard not to get a little defensive. And the truth of the matter is that while you can buy a real saddle for $200, unless you are very lucky, you can't buy a real good saddle for that amount.

With this in mind, I set out to find and photograph every single saddle costing $200 or less at the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo trade show. Here are the results of that search.

First up is this pink synthetic saddle. At $89 it was less than half the price of a BCS saddle.
This brown synthetic saddle was just a bit more at $99.
At $125 this was the least expensive leather saddle I could find.
If you prefer English, this old battered close contact saddle was $150 with fittings. I didn't think to look, but I'd be willing to bet that the Pakistani looking brown saddle on the bottom of the stack was even less.
This used Western saddle with partial buckstitching cost exactly $200.
At $230 OBO this Western saddle is technically a budget buster. Still, I suspect that an offer of $200 would have been gratefully accepted.
So, there you have it--one model saddle and six real saddles that cost $200 or less. If you prefer any of these real saddles to my model saddle that's fine by me. Just don't feel compelled to tell me about it, ok?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Oh no!

I made an unexpected discover as I was boxing up Teresa's jumper bridle today. One of the folded up strips of bubble wrap in my shipping supply stash had this lovely little medallion tucked inside it:I am completely baffled. I have absolutely no idea where this guy came from. I don't know when he arrived and I don't know who sent him to me. Was he a gift? A shipping mistake? The work of gremlins?

Your guess is as good as mine--or maybe it's even better. If you have any information at all about my mystery medallion, please send it my way.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Teresa's jumper bridle

I know way too many Teresas! This bridle belongs to Teresa Botkins. Yesterday's boots were for Teresa Buzzell. Maybe tomorrow I'll make something for Teresa Fedak? Oh wait, she's one of those people who are afraid of teeny tiny buckles--probably I won't be making anything for her!This bridle is going to be used on a Justin Thyme resin. I don't have one of those so my lovely custom Strapless is acting as a stand-in. Once Upon a Time was painted by Danielle Feldman is a great favorite of mine. I just love her face and am always delighted when I get to use her as a tack model!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Back to tack

This week is all about small orders. Here's a look at what's been keeping me busy for the last two days.

An extra-long lead rope for Kellye, a crown piece for Karen,
sports medicine boots for Teresa and Jane,
skid boots for Susan,
and an English girth with a fleece girth cover for me.
Tomorrow and Friday will be a couple bridles, and then next week I'll try to get going on something more substantive.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Carnage!

I promise--I will get back to tackmaking eventually. In fact, my original plans for today involved a leadrope, two pairs of boots and a bridle. That didn't happen, but I'm not complaining.

Not in the least.

That is because my friend Regan came over with a big box of customizing tools and in progress customs. I love working with other people. It's so nice to have another set of eyes and hands, plus it's just plain fun! Here's a look at a few of the day's many projects
I began the day working on my Experiment resin. This is how he looked when I first bought him about a year ago--pretty rough by any standard!
Experiment was intended to be a classic sized lightbreed mare, but when I looked at him, I saw a traditional scale pony gelding. I did a lot of work towards that goal, but eventually I got busy with other things and abandoned him.

Poor scary no-eye pony! This is how he's looked for most of the last year.
I rebuilt the eyes a couple nights ago. They're not perfect, but at least he's not blind anymore.
Today, I removed the mane and forelock. Shortly thereafter, Regan observed that my pony had a very horse-like head. Darn it, she was right!
So, my next goal was to pony-ify the head by adding epoxy to the forehead and jowls. I think it's working.
I also spent some time on Little Miss Suki, who seems to have lost an ear.
Oh, there it is!
Trying out a few different positions.
Reattached but still in need of sculpting. That will have to wait for another day!
Regan brought my favorite of her in progress customs. This is Alyssa, a Breyer Quarter Horse gelding remade into a trotting Lipizzan mare. It's hard to believe, but Regan is an even slower customizer than I am--this piece has been in the works for more than a decade!
Alyssa's muzzle was much too wide, so Regan used her dremel to split in half lengthwise.
She then softened the plastic with a heat gun...
and squashed the halves back together. Neither one of us had ever done this before but it worked out just fine!
Regan also spent some time working on this little Bahira resin which--like my Experiment--had been without eyes.
Last but not least, she sculpted a new section of mane for my green Little One. I'd broken the original piece off while I was prepping the legs...
I snapped one last picture before Regan packed up and headed home. It's a group photo of everyone we worked on today.
None of these horses are ready for paint, but they're all at least a step or two closer than they were this morning. I would call that a most productive day!

And maybe tomorrow I'll make the leadrope and the boots and the bridle...