Saturday, October 20, 2018

The out of scale bucket

Although I try not to let it happen, sometimes I end up with out-of-scale props. This tiny bucket is a perfect example. It's big enough for little Poka Tia...
but much too small for anyone else.
I'm not sure where the out-of-scale bucket came from, but it's been rattling around the bottom of my miscellaneous prop box for a long time. I unearthed it while gathering props for Thursday's post and thought, "I will never use that. I really ought to get rid of it."

A couple hours later, inspiration struck as I walked down the seasonal aisle at the grocery store.
With just a little bit of work, the out-of-scale bucket was transformed into a perfect 1:9 scale Halloween treat pail.
I'm glad I didn't get rid of it. 
Sometimes you buy the right props. Other times you make the props you buy right. Both ways work.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Falling star

Five years ago today, the horse I was riding fell over a jump and landed on top of me. My right collarbone shattered on impact, and I sustained a lot of damage to my left leg. It was a bad wreck by almost any standard, but considering what could have happened, I got off easy. For a few terrifying moments, it had looked like it was going to be a whole lot worse

That was the second scariest experience of my riding career.

The scariest experience - the one where I was absolutely convinced I was going to die - happened when I was twenty and working at the Don K Ranch in the mountains outside of Pueblo, Colorado. 
I had taken a group of riders on the Edge of the World trail. This was our marquee ride, with fantastic, panoramic views of the forest...
the ranch...
and the plains.
The ride finished up in the grasslands west of the ranch. From there, we'd go through a gate, and make the long trek up the Don K driveway.
My mount that day was a black gelding named Star. He was a nice horse to ride, kind, willing and responsive to the aids, but also very reactive. If there was something to spook at, he would be the horse to find it. Some weeks we had guests who were confident and secure enough to ride him, but more often than not, he was a wrangler horse.
As we neared the end of the ride, I dismounted to open the gate between the pasture and driveway. The other riders passed through and continued on a ways before stopping to wait for me. The space between us wasn't tremendous, but it was enough that no one was paying attention as I closed the gate and went to climb back onto Star.

Because he was tall and I am short, I did what I usually did and used the nearest big rock as a mounting block. Unfortunately, this particular rock wasn't a stable platform. It toppled out from underneath me as I pushed off. I tried desperately to save myself, but fell backwards and landed with a whomp!, flat on my back, left foot wedged firmly in the stirrup above me.

"This is how people die," I thought, and I closed my eyes, bracing for the inevitable. In my mind's eye, I could see terrified, spooky Star dragging my battered and broken body all the way back to the ranch. 

I waited several long seconds that felt like minutes. Nothing happened. I opened one eye and saw Star's hindquarters quivering above me. Every joint in his legs was compressed like a coiled spring, and the skin above his flanks was twitching.

But he did not move.

Very gingerly, I tried to dislodge my foot from the stirrup. I was afraid to bump his side, afraid to breathe, afraid to do anything that would set off that very spooky and reactive horse.

Still, he did not move.

And then - just like that - my foot fell out of the stirrup. I took a deep, shaky breath and stood up. I went to Star's shoulder, leaned against him, and together we took a moment to catch our breath and calm our racing hearts.

Thank you, Star. You're the best horse, Star. I love you, Star.

When we'd regained our composure, I gathered the reins and led him forward to where the rest of the group was waiting. I mounted - from the ground - and the ride continued as if nothing had happened.

And really, nothing had happened.

Except I knew - and Star knew - that it very nearly almost had.

Thank you, Star. You're the best horse, Star. I love you, Star.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Where did you find that?

I know that every time I post a picture like this...
The jack o'lanterns and candy corn were made with polymer clay. The candy corn packages, treat bags and halter trim were made from paper. The 3D printed feed pan was purchased from Enterprise Props. The table is a customized Breyer picnic table. The halter is made from grosgrain ribbon and Rio Rondo hardware. Snickers is a Breyer Giselle customized by Tiffany Purdy
or this... 
The sleeping corgis are magnets that I purchased on Amazon. I made the Sherpa blanket.
or this...
The gourds were found on the seasonal aisle at Joann Fabrics. The leaves are made out of paper. The table is of unknown origin and was given to me by a friend. The halter is made from grosgrain ribbon, paper and Rio Rondo hardware. Tucker is a Brigitte Eberl Cisco resin painted by Pat Hefty. I bought him from another collector after seeing his sales ad on Facebook.
or this... 
Raccoon is a Safari animal that was purchased at Michaels. The harness and leash are made from kangaroo lace, embroidery floss and Rio Rondo hardware. The beer came from an eBay seller. Jose was a gift from Tiffany Purdy.
someone is going to ask, "Where did you find that dog/pumpkin/candy corn/bottle of beer/raccoon?" I get it. In fact, I've asked that question more than once myself, and I really appreciate it when people are willing to share their sources.
1:9 is a somewhat unusual scale, falling halfway between the more common dollhouse (1:12) and play (1:6) scales. It can be difficult finding realistic props this size, so I have a policy of buying affordably priced, properly scaled items whenever and wherever I can find them. It almost doesn't matter what they are. I figure if I have them, I will find a use for them.
Happily, the most readily available things are the horsey things. Breyer is heavily invested in the 1:9 scale market and has sold a lot of nice props over the years. I am particularly fond of their grooming kit, which makes up a large part of my grooming kit. Non-Breyer items in this picture include spray bottles and curries by other toy companies, 3D printed bottles with added labels and a whole bunch of handmade hoof picks.  
So many hoof picks, and still, there's a need for Thrush Buster!
There's a lot of Breyer in my first aid box, as well, but also a lot of Re-ment. Re-ments are high quality, collectible toys made in Japan that are easily found on eBay. Their scale is variable, but most things fit nicely within the traditional range
eBay is a really good source for miniatures. That's where I found the scale, measuring cup and jar of honey pictured here. The molasses and pink feed scoop (actually a bead scoop) came from the craft store. Craft stores are also a good source for miniatures! Nichelle Jones made the peppermints, The Red Cell was made from a dollhouse wine bottle with a paper label. The salt blocks are really old. They may have been part of a Dakins set, but I'm not sure. I've had them at least twenty years.
These feed bags are almost as old. I bought them from another hobbyist in the early days of eBay. The 3D printed feed pan was created by Enterprise Props, and I made the hay bag using a tutorial from Nichelle Jones' Desktop Stables blog. Hobby artists are perhaps the best source for 1:9 scale offerings.
Most of the coffee came from eBay, but the coffee bag was a gift from Bobbie Allen
The Schleich rattlesnake was a gift from Carol. She brought him to me from Germany. I'm not a big fan of rattlesnakes, but I do love gifts, especially those of the 1:9 scale variety. I look forward using him in a Natural Trail set-up. The other reptiles came from toy stores. I made the sign using my laptop computer, printer and photo paper.
So many things can be made out of paper! Almost all of the candy shown below was created that way. The only exceptions are the candy corn (polymer clay) and the box of Cracker Jack. I got that at a dollhouse shop when I was a little girl. Hard to believe, but it's at least forty years old.
The backgammon game and toy chest came from the same dollhouse shop as the Cracker Jack. The cards, rubber ducky and rubber chicken were purchased within the last year.
That's something I can't really stress enough. I didn't buy all this stuff in one place and I certainly didn't buy it in one day. I have been working on my 1:9 scale world for decades

So when people ask me, "Where did you find all this stuff?" the answer isn't simply Breyer, eBay, Amazon, MH$P, the craft store, the dollhouse store, the toy store, the tack store, it was a gift or I made it myself. The answer is also time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


When James was younger, he used to go to the barn with me on a semi-regular basis.
Most of that time was spent with the foals...
but sometimes we went riding, too.
James' usual mounts were Santana,
and Chino.
Of these, it was Chino who challenged him the most and provided him with both his best...
and worst moments in the saddle.
I always felt like they had a really nice relationship.
Chino left Kenlyn  in August 2016, but returned earlier this year. James is on fall break this week, so yesterday, I talked him into accompanying me to the barn to help with candy corn pictures. It was the first time he'd seen Chino in more than two years.
It was a good reunion...
and I am a happy mama!

Candy corn, take two

I made a whole pile of 1:9 scale candy corn for my model horses, but it never occurred to me that the real horses might like some as well, at least not until Olivia left this comment on last Friday's post.
"That sounds like a blog post!" I said, so I bought a bag of candy corn and headed out to the barn. 
Longtime readers may recall my unsuccessful, multi-year search for a horse that would eat Peeps. I halfway expected this to be more of the same, but all it took was one tiny taste of candy corn to transform this normally polite Santana.. 
a candy corn seeking monster. 
Stealth and MiRizon came over to see what the fuss was about... 
and almost instantly, they were also hooked.
Flash mob.
I extricated myself from circle of candy corn lust and found Chino.
Thoughtful chewing. 
"Hey! That was good!" 
"More please!"
"Nom! Nom! Nom!" 
By this point, it was clear that most horses really do like candy corn. Still, I felt compelled to test the theory one more time. For Science. 
Thunder can get a little bit mouthy so his treats go in the feeder. He was a little dubious at first...
But not for long! 
The results are in and they are unequivocal.
Thank you, Olivia! That was an excellent suggestion!