Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Halloween Horse. Halloween Jump.
Halloween Zombies.
Happy Halloween from Braymere Custom Saddlery!

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I still have not posted all the pictures I took at the Halloween with Horses event in Parker, Colorado a couple weekends ago. I had such a good time that day. Although I've had my digital camera for two years, this was the first time I've really gone out and shot hundreds of pictures in a single day. How freeing to be able to do that without worrying about paying for the film and developing. I was so reluctant to give up my beloved film camera, but if I wasn't a digital convert before, I definitely am now!
This group of pictures is all of the Westernaires which is a drill team based out of Golden, Colorado. They perform at rodeos throughout the region and I believe all the riders are in their teens. This horse is waiting to enter the arena.Some horses trotted in.
Others cantered.This pretty black horse is carrying the New Mexico state flag. Every state was represented by a horse and rider in this group. And of course, there was a US flag out there as well.
Various other flags.
It looked like fun out there.Unfortunately, this horse tried to zip around a corner a bit too quickly and ended up on his side. Ever the tack enthusiast, I was delighted to get a better look at the white saddle cover without a rider on top of it!
The rider had to be helped out of the ring, but he seemed ok.I didn't realize at the time, but my children were traumatized by witnessing this fall. We went from the exhibition ring directly to the pony rides. Both of them did get on the horses willingly, but they each told me afterwards that they spent the whole ride worrying their horses were going to fall over on them! Poor kids. I guess I'm a bad mom, because it never ocurred to me that they would think that.

Alls well that ends well, though. The boys are enjoying fall break this week, so no school at all. I took them to the barn with me today and they had a great time riding a pair of really patient geldings. James even told me that he might consider trading our dog Maggie for a horse like Punky. According to him, Punky would be happy to live in the garage!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More endurance

Tiffany Purdy sent me these pictures of Muscatina winning an Other Performance class this past weekend at River Valley Live in Hastings, MN . She then went on to be Reserve Champion of the Other Performance division even though she'd only entered the one class! Way to go, Tiffany!I made the saddle and breastplate. Rebecca Dunne of Australia made the rope bridle and Tiffany customized the horse and the doll and built the diorama.
Muscatina is a customized Eberl Muscat resin. Tiffany gave her a sex change, a new neck and a whole new attitude. I think she's absolutely adorable and she's for sale! Email Tiffany at if you're interested. She's going to make someone a really super little performance horse.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How To--bridle measurements

The marathon harness is done--hooray! It's all boxed up and ready to go. I returned the cutter to the unpainted resin shelf in the basement, and he ended up next to my Bogucki Chances Are. Looking at them together, I couldn't help but notice how much bigger the cutter's head is. Both these molds are considered "Traditional Scale", but you would be hard pressed to find any bridle they could both wear. This happens a lot. Saddles are relatively universal, but bridles can be a lot trickier to fit properly.I own a lot of models, but I can't own them all. Nearly half my tack orders are made from measurements. This is a bit harder than having the actual horse to build on, but over time I've worked out a system that gets the perfect fit far more often than not.

The easiest way to measure your horse is with a piece of string and a ruler. Make a knot near one end of the string. Lay the string over the horse with the knot at one measurement point. Find the other measurement point and hold your finger there. Keeping your finger on that point, lift the string off your horse and onto your ruler. Either standard or metric measurements are fine. After you've recorded the length, you can move on to the next measurement. That's all there is to it! Here are the measurements I like to have to ensure a perfect fit for an English bridle. Also, be sure to tell me if you are planning to use a rider doll in your set-up as it does affect the rein length.
Thanks to my son Ryan for his help with the pictures.
The model featured in this entry is a customized Sandicast Quarter Horse resin named All Grown Up. She was sculpted by Sommer Prosser, customized by me, and painted by Hilary Schwafel. She's a great favorite of mine--I couldn't resist adding a full body picture of her to this post!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dressage horses

Both these lovely dressage horses are customized Breyer Salinero models. The top horse was transformed into a piaffing Iberian stallion by Tiffany Purdy. He is wearing the tack I made for the 2008 NAN Auction. The doll was dressed by my talented friend Jane Schneider, who also made the saddle pad. The second horse was painted by Tom Bainbridge and is owned by Kellye Bussey.
Salinero was sculpted by the amazing German artist, Brigitte Eberl. In additional to a ton of really nice resins, she is also the sculpter behind Alborozo and the recent Connoisseur model, Giselle. I am a huge fan of Brigitte and hope that Breyer will continue to use her work in their lineup.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

This is how it all started

The year was 1981 and I was twelve. I had recently become a subscriber to Just About Horses, which was a small format, quarterly magazine published by Breyer Animal Creations. The first couple issues introduced me to the world of remaking and rehairing. The third issue I received had this article. I was absolutely enchanted by the pictures. My models had tack--rope halters and bridles and a few rubbery saddles that had come with my sister's Marx horses. This, however, was an entirely different thing. I'd never known model horse tack could look so real. I found a scrap of leather, cut it into strips and made this bridle. I was not completely satisfied with it, but it seemed like a big accomplishment nonetheless. It did not seem like a toy.This Family Arabian Mare was my very favorite childhood horse. Her name is Zucchini. The barn was made by my father and the bareback pad by my best friend's mother. The truly scary thing is that I still own everything in this picture--and the magazine, too!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Happy, horsey day

What a wonderful day I've had! I went riding at a friend's house this morning. I've been so busy with kids and house stuff and tack orders that I hadn't been to the barn in two months. The weather was perfect and it felt really good to be out there playing with the horses. I rode an Arab mare that I hadn't ridden before and she was a good match for me. I very much like little, sensitive, zippy horses and she is all of the above!

Riding at Fran's house comes with an added bonus--the chance to visit her extremely impressive model horse collection. This is just a small sampling of her "horse room". I spent the remainder of the afternoon watching the ABC broadcast of four Breeders' Cup races on Tivo. I would have loved to have seen the headline events, but was thankful to get as much as I did. For some reason I'd been under the impression that all the races were on cable. So nice to be wrong! I love watching races at Santa Anita. I grew up right at the base of those purple mountains so it's like getting a glimpse of home. Even better, the races were exciting and all the horses came home safely.
I'd planned to do a tutorial on how to tack up your model race horse today, but somehow I seem to have lost my racing tack... Sigh... So instead, here is a little bit of information about racing number cloths. If you watched the races today, you may have noticed that all the horses were wearing purple number cloths with white numbers. The cloths were decorated with the words "Breeders' Cup" and a smaller, circular logo. You'll see that kind of thing at the big, marquis races, but not during a normal race meet. Instead, it's far more likely the color of the horses' number cloths will be determined by their post position. Here's a chart for post positions one through twelve.

Post Position...........Color of Cloth......... Color of Number
1 & 1A.............................. Red.................................White
2 & 2B..............................White..............................Black
3........................................Royal Blue......................White
5........................................Kelly Green....................White
11.......................................Light Grey......................Red
12.......................................Lime Green....................Black

I'm not certain when this color coding became standard practice. I suspect it's a relatively recent development. I took a lot of pictures at Santa Anita in the early 1990's and in most of them, the horses were wearing black cloths with white numbers.Because of this, I would never fault a live show entrant whose number cloth did not match her post position. However, I'm the sort of person who loves getting all the little details right. My horses will always be color coded. Before I go, I want to give a shout out to Alison Bennish for providing the hobby with correctly shaped racing irons. Before these were available the most tedious part of making a racing set was customizing the stirrup irons to give them this rounded shape. It is so much easier to use these. Like all of Alison's castings, they require very little clean-up and they look far better than my customized irons ever did. You can see them and so many other neat things at Alison's eBay store:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Go Baby Go

I’m posting a race horse picture in honor of all the fillies and mares running in the Breeders’ Cup Classic races today at Santa Anita. I won’t be watching. We have the world’s most basic cable package and it does not include ESPN or ESPN2. Mostly I don’t mind. I'm really happy not to have a 24 hour cartoon channel in my home. Today and tomorrow, however, I’ll be feeling a wee bit deprived. I wish the networks would cover racing beyond the Triple Crown races…

(By the way—who is responsible for renaming the Distaff? It’s now called the Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic—Ugh!)
I can’t take credit for much in Sandy Lyles’ amazing triple dead heat set up. I think I made two of the saddles and that’s it. Just about everything else was made by Sandy. This is my all time favorite model horse racing scene. It looks like the judges at NAN liked it, too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Second chances and sneak peeks

Since starting this Blog, I've had the opportunity to revisit a lot of my sold tack pieces from the last seven or eight years. Most things still look pretty good to me, but I admit, there are a few items I wish I could have another chance at. I’m not talking about really out of scale work or shoddy craftsmanship. I was reasonably accomplished when I started selling my tack, so there’s nothing that’s that bad out there. Instead, the problems I'm seeing are more subtle—proportions that aren't quite right, asymmetries and fitting issues.

Indeed, these are the same challenges I struggle with daily. It’s not enough to make something that looks pretty good. I’m aiming for great. The halters I showcased yesterday are a perfect example of this. I really enjoyed making them and initially, I was pleased with the way they turned out. However, when I tacked up the horses for the photo shoot, I noticed the Western halter was fitting lower and tighter than I like. I wrestled with it a bit and managed to convince myself it was fine. I took the pictures, uploaded them to Blogspot and moved onto something else.

Fortunately, I did not put that halter in a box and mail it away.

When I logged on to Blogspot later that evening, the problems with the halter were impossible to ignore. A show halter should flatter a horse’s head. This one did not. See the ring where the cheek piece, throatlatch and crown buckle come together? It’s not in the right spot. The noseband is too low and the throatlatch is a wee bit short. It’s close, but close just isn't good enough.
Now I hate, hate, hate having to redo things, but not quite as much as I hate things that don’t fit properly. There was no way around it--I had to fix this halter. Thankfully, it didn't take all that long. I think it looks much better now and I am very pleased that this one time I did get my second chance!
The next two pictures are a sneak peek at the marathon harness I'm making to fit Lisa Sharpe's Ima Sharpe Cutter resin. He is not your typical carriage horse and his position has been an interesting challenge for me. I chose to go with a Hungarian style breastcollar. It's a bit hard to see in the picture, but the straps are lying in between the large locks of mane rather than just sitting on top.
I really like the way Lisa sculpted this guy to be tack friendly. The throatlatch is actually passing under and through the mane. Too neat! If you'd like to see more pictures of this resin and find out how to order one, please visit Lisa's website:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Something really different for you extreme performance types

There's been an interesting discussion in the performance forum of Blab regarding what makes an entry suitable for a "Natural Trail" class as opposed to a "Scene" class. Opinions vary somewhat by region and mostly focus on whether the horse is actually negotiating an obstacle on the trail rather than simply being ridden outside a ring. Well, I have an idea for one of you really enterprising performance specialists. This one would work well with a standing model, but you'll have to decide for yourself which class to put it in!My boys and I saw this apparatus in the display barn at Halloween With Horses last weekend. Ryan--always the engineer--was drawn to it immediately. He asked me what it was and all I could do was shrug and say "Some sort of a horse sling." Thankfully there was someone there who was able to explain it a little better than that.
So here's my out-there idea for a natural trail or scene set-up. The explanation card would read--"This horse and rider's idyllic trail ride nearly ended in disaster when they fell into a ravine. Luckily, the local rescue organization was able to erect this apparatus over the ravine, strap the sling on the horse and lift him to safety". Pretty cool, huh?
Well, that's my creative thought for the night. I'm going to go watch Mythbusters with the little engineers!

Classic scale halters

Fresh off my workbench! I like having smaller tack items to work on in between the big orders. Some things take so long to complete... It really makes me appreciate projects I can start and finish all in one sitting.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Playing with clay

I'm a stay at home mom. It was my choice not to return to the workforce after my kids were born and it's not a decision I've regretted. However, I do miss bringing home a paycheck. My little tack business has gone a long way to fill that void, and as such, I tend to take it very seriously. I try to work on orders every day, especially during the hours when my kids are in school. However, sometimes things come up and I get a better offer. Happily for me, today was one of those days.Rather than stay home and work on that marathon harness (sorry, Lisa!), I packed up some tools and horses and headed to my friend Regan's house. She had a rare day off work and had invited me to come over and for a "play in the clay" day. She has been working on an original clay sculpture for almost a year. It's nearing completion but progress has stalled, due to lack of time and general exhaustion.
One of the things Regan hadn't tackled yet was the horse's feet. From the fetlocks down, this sculpture was just big, puddles of clay. Now, I like hooves. They seem to be one of the few horse parts that I just "get". Regan told me I could make play with the sculpture to my heart's content, so I decided to give her ankles and hooves. You're looking at the results! Obviously these are nowhere near done, but they are so much more done then they were when I started. I wish I had snapped a "before" picture to record the difference. I've done a fair amount of customizing, but this was the first time I've ever worked on a clay sculpture and it was so much fun. I think I need one of my own!
This is the horse I brought with me to work on.It's a Veiled resin by Linda York that I bought as a project horse a while back. Someone had painted her and then cut off her head and set it back on at a different angle. The customizing hadn't been done very neatly, so I'd re-decapitated her reattached the head. Unfortunately, I didn't do a very good job of it. She looked better because I did it neatly, but the head/neck connection was still not right. It seemed pretty obvious she was going to have to lose her head again, but I wasn't ready to face that at the time. I hid her on far end of the project shelf and didn't touch her again until today. I showed Regan what I was up to and she helped by digging up some reference pictures of Saddlebreds. I marked the area that needed to be removed and cut her head off for the third time (poor Veiled!). Here she is with the head disconnected but held in place to check to check alignment.And this is what she looks like now. I think it's an improvement. If I decide differently tomorrow, I guess I can always get the hacksaw out again...
One last fun picture of some of Regan's other projects along with my headless Saddlebred. I really do enjoy working with other hobbyists. I always learn something and it's so helpful to have another set of eyes to keep me from making the same mistakes over and over.