Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Surviving BreyerFest, part two

Model horse collectors are all about collecting, and BreyerFest makes it really easy. Everywhere you go, there are models for sale.
The official event models are available throughout the day at the Kentucky Horse Park.
This also where you can buy an auction model,
a silent auction model...
and all kinds of other goodies from the vendors in the Covered Arena.
Maggie's booth is my favorite!
The host hotel also offers a plethora of shopping possibilities, including the Swap Meet, the Artisan's Gallery...
and, of course, room sales.
With so many shopping opportunities, it's easy to get overwhelmed and overextended. In part two of my Surviving BreyerFest series, we discuss how to safely navigate this part of BreyerFest.
The single best piece of advice is to prepare your shopping list in advance. Prioritize your wants and be realistic about your finances. As Jackie Hasser warns, "You can easily spent your entire budget in one place/room."
Elaine Lindelef adds: If you want one-source things like a piece from a particular artist, get them first so that (a) your budget is secured and (b) you get one. Some things go very quickly.
Never forget, this is a convention for collectors. If you want something, odds are other people want it, too. Lisa Smalley writes: If you find something you want in room sales at the Clarion, buy it, as it may not be there if you wait and go back later!
Elaine Boardway echoes that sentiment, adding: You might 1) not be able to find the room again 2) you find the room but the occupant has temporarily closed shop or 3) (the most likely) you just don't have time to get near that room again.
While you're planning your purchases, also, plan for getting them home. If you're riding with someone else, be sure to discuss available space. Cars that were empty on the drive to Kentucky and often overflowing on the way home.
Elaine Lindelef writes: Remember you can ship your purchases (or your dirty clothes) home. Also, if you're flying, it's not wrong to bring an extra suitcase full of bubble wrap.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this post. Part three will cover the social aspects of BreyerFest.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Making bridles

In the last week alone, I've made at least a dozen bridles. 

That is to say, I've taken the (full scale) bridle pieces out of their shipping bags,
assembled them...
and hung them on the wall.
I am one of the only store employees who enjoys doing this so my coworkers tend to leave the bridles for me. Sage to say, at least half of these bridles were "made" by me.
But this week I actually made another bridle. Made not assembled.
When you don't make tack for a long time, it can seem kind of impossible, but this one actually went together nicely. Thanks for giving me a much needed push, Tiffany. I can't wait to see this one on the show table at BreyerFest!

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Surviving BreyerFest, part one

June was long. I'm glad it's July.
July means one thing: BreyerFest!
This year's event is the first in-person BreyerFest since 2019. Expectations are high, but so is anxiety. In an effort to allay some of those nerves, I asked members of the Braymere Custom Saddlery Facebook page to contribute their best BreyerFest survival tips. Today's post is a compilation of the responses.
Officially, BreyerFest starts on July 15, but most attendees will arrive sooner. It's going to be a lot of people from a lot of places in close proximity to one another. If you haven't already done so, please consider updating your Covid-19 vaccination status now.
Of course, Covid isn't the only disease threat on the BreyerFest menu. Con crud - the common cold, mild flu or similar illness that often strikes towards the end of a convention - is always a concern. To combat this, Sarah Townsend recommends taking  Emergen-C Immune Plus for a week before the event, noting that "it really seems to make a difference."
Other BreyerFest health concerns include heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
The best way to avoid these is to be prepared. Sunscreen and appropriate clothing are musts. Teresa Buzzell writes: Invest in tech fabrics. Amazon Basics has some good deals if pricing is an issue. Also, bring at least at least two extra changes of clothes. You'll probably need them!
Tiffani Colvin adds: For me, the most important things are shade and a Camelbak (hydrating backpack). Two of my medications cause extreme sensitivity to the sun, so I bring an umbrella with me. I am careful when I'm in a crowded area, and I stay aware of where the horses are since some horses will spook at it. As much as I love my sandals I always wear tennis shoes since they are more comfortable for all the walking.
It would be impossible to overstate the importance of staying hydrated. Water is available at the Horse Park, but it's pricey. To get around that, Andrea Brygidyr offers this solution: If you are a Collector Club member, you get free water in the tent. It's worth the membership just for that because water at the park is so expensive otherwise. You can easily drink more than the membership is worth.
Another way to beat the heat is to schedule air conditioning breaks. The International Museum of the Horse, the American Saddlebred Museum and the Kentucky Horse Park Gift Shop are all right there and definitely worth a visit. Also, as Teresa Buzzell likes to say, it's okay to go back to the hotel during the day to take a second shower!
Along those same lines, don't run yourself ragged trying to do everything. Mary Vinyard offers this advice: Pick out some key events/shows/seminars to attend then play the rest by ear. I spent my first few visits making myself crazy trying to see and do everything. It wasn't fun. Don't feel guilty for sleeping in one day or spending time in your room or doing other non BreyerFest things. You are on vacation and deserve to enjoy it!
Kelly Weimer concurs. Here's her best tip: Don’t try to do everything. One year, I showed at NAN for two days, judged the BreyerFest Youth and Children's Show, the Stone Show and then showed the BreyerFest Open Show. Just no. I now pick one or two things I really want to do and enjoy the spontaneous nature of everything else. Be content that you WILL miss out on something. (Still worried I’ll miss out on something.)
Christie Richardson agrees: I'm still physically recovering from doing two days of NAN, the resin show and BF Open performance. And that was four or five years ago.
While we tend to focus on the plastic pony side of things - it is BreyerFest, after all - several people reminded me that this is also an excellent opportunity to interact with real horses, both on and off the Kentucky Horse Park grounds. 
The Breed Barn and Hall of Champions have scheduled showings throughout the day and there are exhibitions and meet and greets in the main BreyerFest area.
Karla Phelps writes: You can drive around the park after hours - it’s 1100 acres big and there are pastures and paddocks and old buildings at the far back. It’s so quiet and serene when there are no visitors.
With so much to see and do, it's tempting to forgo sleep. Sandra Gibson writes: Don't expect to sleep, but also do your best to try to get at least six hours.
She also reminds us: Watch out for other people. If you see someone who looks like they are in distress (need a drink, or some shade), try to assist them. It's not all about the plastic horses. Check in with your friends and make sure everyone's staying hydrated and fed especially in the heat of Kentucky.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to this post. Parts two and three will cover shopping and socializing!

Thursday, June 30, 2022

June horses: Royal

There's a beautiful new face at the barn.

This is Karen's new horse, Royal.
He is a twelve year old Missouri Fox Trotter.
Look at those dapples! He's gorgeous.
He's also Olive's new best friend.
After a couple days of letting them get to know each other through the fence...
we turned them out together.
Not even a squeal!
I'm pretty sure this is the first chapter of a long and beautiful friendship.
Welcome, Royal! Olive and I are so happy to know you.

June horses: Santana

When I think of the horses who have most shaped my riding life, Santana's name is near the top of the list.
He is the kind of horse my younger self actively avoided. I'd have said he was too quiet, too boring, a good horse for a beginner but not for me.
Boy, was I wrong.
I loved riding Santana. After a lifetime of problem horses, he showed me how nice it was to ride without problems. No matter what the universe threw at us, I could always count on him to keep his cool. He stood patiently for all my photos, he packed my kids down the trail, he carried me when I was weighed down with anxiety and grief.
Even though I have Olive, I still miss seeing the world through Santana's sensible ears.
Fortunately, I don't have to miss him. I see Santana nearly every day.
He's older, whiter and even slower, but just as awesome as ever.
So awesome, in fact, he's the only horse at the barn with free range privileges.
It makes me so happy to see him quietly work his way around the property, cleaning up all the hay that ends up on the wrong side of the fence. 
No matter how busy I am, I always take a moment to stand with him. I thank him for taking care of me for so many years, for teaching me to appreciate the quiet horses.