Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Braiding

Long before I started making saddles, I financed my hobby by selling lots of small tack items.  Since most of what I knew came from Susan Bensema Young's Guide to Making Model Horse Tackit's no surprise that a lot of those items were braided.   The quirts featured in this long ago post, were some of my hottest sellers.  I think I must have sold at least twenty of these in 1999 alone.

Nowadays I rarely get orders for braided items so I was surprised to receive a recent request for a pair of quirts.  Even more surprising--so much time had passed since I'd made a quirt that I wasn't sure I remembered how to do it!

Of course that meant I had to experiment a little...
They're not perfect, but I think I'm ready to say yes to that order request.  Now if I could just find that email...

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

English tack

In regards to tack, "English" is a catch all term that encompasses saddles for disciplines as diverse as dressage and racing.  Although this type of saddlery has roots in England, English saddles are made and used the world over and include variations that are decidedly non British (e.g saddleseat) .

Unlike my usual fare, this tack set is both generally and specifically "English."   
Marianna ordered this set for her Roundabout resin.  "Roundie" is a classic sized British heavyweight cob sculpted by Karen Gerhardt.  His tack is typical of that seen in the UK show ring and includes a saddle with straight cut flaps, a balding girth and a double bridle with flat nose and browbands.  I used a guest post from my own blog to guide me in the creation of this set.  Thanks again, Lauren.  That was really helpful!
One new feature of this saddle is the black piping along the skirt pieces.  Marianna had originally asked for the lighter piping often seen on English saddles made for the American market.  I couldn't find any evidence of this on British hunter saddles, so I asked if I could use a more subtle darker piping instead.  Marianna agreed and this is the result.  
FYI--this particular Roundie was kindly loaned to me by Karen and Jennifer Scott.  He is a donation piece for Jenn's Horses N Hangars Live show which was held last month in Broomfield, Colorado.  Jenn will be painting him and offering him for sale sometime this fall.
Thanks to Karen and Jenn for the loan, Lauren for the information and Marianna for such a fun order!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Polo Penalty Shootout

I am always on the lookout for interesting new performance ideas for my model horses.  I particularly like events that don't require a lot of props, feature multiple gaits and can be performed under either English or Western tack.  The Polo Penalty Shootout qualifies on all counts.  Although these photos were taken during Saturday's Cottonwood Riding Club Pentathlon, I think this event works just as well as a stand alone English or Western gymkhana event.

The rules for the event are simple.  Each competitor is given a polo mallet with which to take two swings at a polo ball.  Whoever's ball goes the furthest is the winner.
The riders line up behind cones on one end of the arena. 
Winding up for the first swing.
There it goes! 
Lining up for the second swing. 
Another good shot. 
Apparently swinging a polo mallet on horseback is much harder than it looks, and most of the riders took things very slow.  However, there were a few real polo players in the mix and they  allowed their horses to move out between shots,  often taking the second swing at speed.  Sorry, no pictures but...
here's a nice reference picture for anyone who'd like to set this up with English tack.
As always, please feel free to use my pictures for your live show documentation.  Just be sure to take a picture and tell me how you did!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Pentathlon

Model horses are versatile critters.  It's not unusual for a good performance horse to compete in any number of diverse disciplines in a single day.  Pleasure driving, costume, endurance, jumping, gymkhana games, calf roping and Western pleasure?  No problem!

This is not generally the case with real horses.  Oh, there are some horses that compete in different events, of course, but generally those events are not totally unrelated.  

Don't tell that to the folks at Cottonwood Riding Club in Littleton, Colorado, though!  This large boarding stable hosted a fun Pentathlon this weekend that was an absolute celebration of equine--and human!--versatility.
The Pentathlon was a team event with each team being composed of six riders.  My friend Jane's daughter Marianne and her horse Twist were a part of the "Lucky Charms" team.  That's them second from the right dressed up as the purple horseshoe charm.
As is usually the case with fun type events, turnout was casual and often sparkly.
This drafty guy was part of the "Dances with Hooves" team. 
Body paint was everywhere...
as was hoof glitter!
The five events were Trail, Dressage, Barrel Racing, Polo and Jumping.  The Trail class took place in a large field...
and included obstacles such as walk throughs (with swimming pool noodles!), 
tarps, 
and back-up obstacles.
The Dressage competition was really more of a drill team event as all the members of the team were in the arena at the same time.  Unfortunately that arena was inside a poorly lit indoor ring, so this is the only picture I took!
Barrel Racing was next.  Some team members were very accomplished at this event.
Others struggled a bit.   
It was especially fun seeing some English horses put in some good runs.
Cottonwood Riding Club is the home of the Denver Polo Club and the facility features a dedicated Polo arena.  
The Pentathlon's Polo competition was a basic, two shot affair that I will explain in greater detail tomorrow.  
The last event of the day was a Gambler's Choice jumping class.  Jump heights ranged almost nothing to four feet six inches.  Some of the Western riders swapped out their Western saddles for English...
but others did the best they could with what they had. 
Here's one of the little tiny "jumps." 
Marianne and Twist were the stars in this leg of the competition performing a nice smooth round that included most of the medium sized fences.
Post performance pats for Twist.  He and Marianne did a wonderful job proving that occasionally real horses can be just as versatile as their plastic counterparts.
Thanks so much for inviting me to the Pentathlon, Jane.  I had a great time.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

D'oh!

There was one cool new thing in that group of tack I featured yesterday so of course I made sure it didn't show in the photo!

Here's a better look at Heather's girth, specifically the elastic girth ends.  I've always liked the look of colored elastic, so I'm pleased to be able to offer this as an option on all future girths.
Hope you like it Heather, and look for variations on this theme to show up on future BCS tack items!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Progress on many fronts

If there's an upside to Darcy's ongoing medical issues it would be this:  Ever mounting vet bills have inspired me to get serious about working through my tack order backlog.  Yesterday morning, I sat down and made a list.
Ever since then it's been work, work, work.  Because I am waiting on supplies, I haven't been able to work any one project from start to finish.  Instead it's been a piecemeal approach, making what I can with what I have on hand.  From left to right, that's Sheila's pony bridle, Kellye's long lines, Heather's browband, Marianna's British working hunter set and Heather's girth.
I don't usually work like this, and I have to admit that it's been kind of fun!  Still, I hope the mailman delivers boxes from Rio Rondo and the World of Model Horse Collecting soon.  It would be nice to actually finish something!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Deja vu

First it was James.
Now it's Darcy.
Maybe one of these days things will actually settle down enough so I can concentrate on tack.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back to school/Back to work

Summer vacation is officially over.  Today I got the kids off to school...
and drove out to Parker for a brief pony visit.
Then it was back to work.  I made two girths...
and spent a ridiculous amount of time working on a pattern for quarter boots.  
I wouldn't have minded another couple weeks of vacation time but this was good, too! 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Better and better

My pony lease hasn't officially started and already there's been some barn drama.  Fortunately, this time the end result is a good one.  As of September third, Trillium will be moving from her backyard home in Parker to Big Iron Ranch in Watkins.

After my lesson today, Trillium's owner and I drove out to the new stable.
It's way out east on the prairie so the location isn't ideal for me.  Still, it's not that far away and the amenities more than make up for the drive. 
These are going to be Trillium's pasture mates.  Can you believe the cuteness?
I just love the big paint horse's markings.
One blue eye... 
and one brown eye with blue flecks!
This girl's pretty cute, too.
What a mug!
I had trouble taking pictures of the two ponies because they kept coming too close to the camera.  Oh well, I'm sure I'll have lots of opportunities in the not so distant future. 
Best of all--unlike Trillium's current digs, this place has a bathroom.  It even comes complete with reading material.
Who could ask for anything more?