Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Model Year in Review

I'm going to borrow a phrase from solitairemare and say that I am ambivalent about 2009. It wasn't a great year and it wasn't a terrible year. There were a few days that were absolutely wonderful and a whole month or two I'd like to forget. Perhaps the best words to describe the year are eventful and never boring.

I am also ambivalent about whether or not I achieved my hobby goals for the year. Here is a passage I posted to this blog a year ago today:

My number one hobby goal for the year ... is to step outside of my comfort zone. I do not want to make 34 English saddles in 2009. I want to make at least one Western saddle and a sidesaddle of some sort and a Mexican saddle and a Portuguese saddle and... Well, you get the picture!

I did make a Western saddle...
and a sidesaddle. Unfortunately, however, that was about it for new and interesting. Mostly I made lots of English saddles. Again. In case anyone is interested, the official breakdown goes like this:
  • Thirteen huntseat saddles, eight traditional, one classic, four pebbles

  • Three dressage saddles, all traditional

  • One saddleseat saddle, traditional

  • Three racing saddles, all traditional

  • One sidesaddle, traditional

  • One Western saddle, traditional

  • Two endurance saddles, both traditional

  • Two packsaddle sets, both traditional
As far as showring success goes, 2009 was a very good year.Although I didn't make the trip to Portland in June, Braymere Custom Saddlery was well represented at NAN. As best as I could tell, my tack was part of five Championship entries, two Reserves and at least six Top Tens. On the home front, this 2009 was... not my best year ever. It wasn't the worst, though, so I guess I can't complain too much. Here's a look back at one of the happy moments:
Here's hoping that we all have a great 2010 filled with tiny saddles and plastic ponies. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Although I moved into my little studio almost a year ago (, it's taken me a long time to warm up to the space. Mostly I've used the room to store things while I'm not working on them. As a result, the entire room has become something of a catch-all for all kinds of family clutter. You've seen the pictures. It hasn't been pretty.

It's almost a new year, though, and that's the perfect excuse for a new beginning. I've spent the last day cleaning and organizing and this is how my studio looks now:
Here's a better look at the main work area. I've arranged the most commonly used tools and supplies to be within easy arm's reach.
The other end of the table is mostly dedicated to storage, but my goal is to keep it clean enough so that another person could conceivably work there (anyone want to come have a tack day with me?). The two lying down resins are both upstairs for repairs. Trooper has a chipped ear and poor Danzante has a broken leg.
Honestly, I'd rather not have any horses on the work area, but it beats the floor which is where Danzante was yesterday!This is what the shelves looked like yesterday...
And today! I relocated all the shipping boxes and most of the supplies so that I would have more room to display some of my favorite horses. This may not have been the most practical use of the space, but it makes me happy to look up there and see models rather than stuff.Another change that makes me happy involves the top of Maggie's dog crate. This had been one of the most cluttered and disorganized parts of the entire room.Now it's become home to my studio entertainment and research center.
I'm not done. I still need a better chair and a good desk lamp. I also want to get some pictures on the wall and add some more plastic storage bins. Still, I'm feeling pretty good about the way this is going. I can hardly wait until the boys go back to school so I can spend an entire day in my new and improved studio!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This week's project

I'm cleaning.

Yesterday it was the kitchen. Today it's the studio. This is the "before" picture.
I am hoping to have a really good "after" picture to share soon!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Karen Grimm

Some of the saddest news to hit the model horse hobby in a long time broke late last week. Karen Grimm of Black Horse Ranch has been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. You can read the entire story on her web page: It is impossible to overstate Karen's influence on the hobby, although  this page does a pretty good job: . She has been a collector and a dealer, a designer and manufacturer, a painter and ceramic artist. She was also a big supporter of the hobby's print publications, and her full page ads in the model horse magazines of yesteryear always made my heart go pitter patter. The horses in her Black Horse Ranch Collection seemed so much more realistic than the Breyers I owned at the time. I wanted one of each. Karen also had real horses--lots of them. Her Appaloosas were World Champions many times over, and she shared them with the hobby at large through her annual naming contests. Oh, I tried and tried to win a resin by naming one of her foals! My names were never chosen, but that didn't stop me from trying each and every year.Eventually, I did manage to acquire quite a few BHR horses through other means. Most came to me during the early years of this decade as I began my transition away from an all plastic collection. Karen's horses were a natural first step on the road to resins and for a while they made up the bulk of my showstring.
The trotting hunter was sculpted after Karen's real horse Color Me Andrew. This is my favorite of the BHR molds and I'd love to have a custom version to go with my OF guy.
This is the Saddlebred, who was also released with molded on parade tack.
The"action" stallion.
This is the Western Pleasure horse. I got mine directly from Karen in a tack-for-model trade back in 2002. I can't remember all the particulars, but I'm pretty sure I made her a pack saddle set in exchange for this horse and a Breyer sulky. I can't tell you how pleased I was that a hobby icon like Karen was interested in my tack. I really felt like I'd arrived!
This Reining Horse was released in two versions, ears up and ears out to the side. Mine was originally the ears up version. An unfortunate accident left him earless, so I did a little bit of repair work and sent him to Lyn Norbury for this lovely Appaloosa paintjob. This is probably my second favorite mold after the hunter.
I also have custom and original finish versions of the QH weanling, a loping horse resin in primer, a heavily customized Companion drafter in primer and a partially customized Shetland pony. My shelves are filled with Karen horses, and although I've never met her in person, the hobby won't be the same to me without her. Thank you, Karen, for both the horses and the memories.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Pony ride stories

It has been cold and snowy for days. I don't really mind the snow but I am not a fan of prolonged, subfreezing temperatures, and I have absolutely no interest in outdoor pursuits when the mercury drops below thirty. Thankfully, I have no trouble finding things to do inside my warm, little house--tackmaking, reading, editing photos, baking, checking my Facebook page, updating my blogs, and reading other people's blogs... Oh, I've read a lot of other people's blogs this week!

One of my very favorite non model horse blogs is It's Sunny in South Dakota, so this recent post was a wonderful surprise: Not only did I get a nice mention (thanks!) but I almost could have written that myself. The specifics would have been different, of course, but that longing to spend time with the ponies... Yup, been there, done that!

Today, however, I'm going to share a completely different kind of pony ride story. A little more than a year ago, my kids and I attended a "Halloween with Horses" festival at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. This event was a real treat for us as there truly was something for everyone to enjoy. My kids loved the Haunted House... and the Trick or Treat Barn.
There were lots of interesting horses to see...and all kinds of cute dogs to play with. There was also a most excellent variety of horse events to watch.
These included a costume class,
a performance by the Westernaires drill team,
and a vaulting demonstration.
All in all, it was a near perfect day of horse related fun. There was only one thing left to make the day complete--an actual ride on a horse. I knew I was out of luck in that respect, but the kids weren't . In the spirit of saving the best for last, we waited until the very end of the day before heading over to the pony ride ring.

It never occurred to me that my kids wouldn't want to take a turn in the saddle. After all, they're my kids. They may not be passionate horse lovers but they are at least semi-interested horse likers. Of course they wanted to ride! Who wouldn't?

Still, I couldn't help but notice that they both got uncharacteristically quiet as they prepared to mount up.
James almost looked like he was being punished.
Ryan managed a nervous smile, but maintained a death grip on the saddle horn.
I couldn't figure it out. My kids had ridden before. Why did they look so frightened?

I asked them about it on the ride home and the answer really surprised me. Right before we went to the pony ride, we'd witnessed an accident during the drill team exhibition. One of the horses had slid as he raced around a corner. He fell and landed on his rider.
The rider didn't appear to be seriously injured, but he did need to be helped out of the ring. I've seen several similar accidents over the years and wasn't much affected by this one. My kids, however, were a lot more impressed. They'd never seen a horse fall down and were both convinced the pony ride horses were going to follow suit. No wonder they looked so scared!

It's pretty funny remembering this now, mostly because no lasting damage was done. My kids have been riding many times since that day and they don't appear to have any lingering fears. I did feel bad about it at the time, though. I guess I just couldn't imagine a scenario when any normal person wouldn't want to ride a pony!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Happy, horsey holiday wishes to friends and family everywhere! Here's hoping there was something horse shaped under your tree.Christmas 1975

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy early Christmas

When I was nine years old my mother told me I had too many model horses and she wasn't going to buy them for me anymore.

Unfortunately for me, she meant what she said. From that point on, if I wanted a new model I had to buy it myself. Sure, there were occasional Breyer gifts from nonfamily members, but mostly I was on my own as far as model acquisitions went.

It's still that way. I never ask for models for Christmas. I'm no longer interested in Breyers from the hobby shop, and on the whole, I think it's better if my husband doesn't know how much most resins cost. If I want a new horse, I save my pennies and buy it myself.

That doesn't mean, however, that I don't want something horsey under my Christmas tree. Towards this end, I usually sign up for at least one hobby related Secret Santa gift exchange. This year I chose the "Esoteric Elf" exchange held over at the Watering Hole (

Yesterday I received this box in the mail.
Inside the box was a pile of presents...all of which were quickly unwrapped. I didn't even think about waiting for Christmas day! Sometimes it's fun to be nine again, even if just for a minute or two.
Here's a better look at the medallion. I regret that I do not know the official name of this piece, but it's a Fjord sculpted by Sonya Johnson. So cute!
Thank you so much to a most wonderful Esoteric Elf--Melissa Sage!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Diary of a Charro saddle

It is a real treat for me to bring you today's post. Well known tackmaker Vicky Norris of PCF Custom Tack ( originally published this photo series on Model Horse Blab and has graciously allowed me to reprint it here. This is a rare opportunity to peek over the shoulder of an experienced tackmaker as she tackles a complex project. I especially love that she shares both the failures and successes that are so common in this kind of work. That's it for me--the rest is all Vicky.

The Making of a Charro Saddle
by Vicky Norris

December 7. I started with one of Allison's pewter charro saddle trees. sanded it and then soaked it in vinegar (lemon juice works too). Then sprayed with automotive sandable primer and painted it with acrylics. You can see the original color here on the bottom side.
Then I took 2 different color paint pens to achieve the wood look that I wanted. That took a while. I wish I had thought of this while I was doing it!
Up until the next part, I knew what to do. Getting the look of inlaid wood gave me a few sleepless nights! I finally found some rub on color stencils in the scrapbooking isle that I think worked great. It has many coats of gloss on, but think I need to put more....
December 9. I got the pattern cut out. Leather is still drying in these photos, hence the different colors.
Dyed and stained to just the most gorgeous color.
Then... Remembered it was to go on a dark liver chestnut Alborozo.....So had to start over. Decided to do a little carving on this one. It is natural with Leather Glow as the finish. Still wet in this picture.
I've also started doing the braiding for the decoration on the saddle and for the halter.
December 11. I have started decorating the pieces. You can see the progression from one to 3 strands of braiding. I think this is going to look really good when It gets together.
December 15. Saddle pad in progress.
Underneath showing where the saddle tree goes into the leather.
I have put the decoration on most of it and glued the saddle bags on. I think the bottom of the saddle pads needs decorating too.
And on a model with the saddle pad under it.
December 16. It is almost all put together. Anyone else use cloths pins to hold things together while they dry? I found the best hole punch at Hobby Lobby last week. It is a little flower, so gives a really nice look to leather conchos. What do you guys think of the serape? Is it too colorful? They usually use solid or stripes like it is, I found this but can't find anything turquoise or black/turquoise.
December 20. I think I'm done, except for a few things to the saddle pad to make it more authentic. The camera batteries decided to die before I could get better photos, so will just go with what I have. Formal pictures (hehehe) will be posted later.
The bridles are very basic.
I wanted the breast collar to be a little fancier than the one I did for me, so did it this way. The halter really brings it all together. December 21. Finished.
Had fun doing it, but I will not do another for the price I quoted for this one!
This set will be shown on a dark liver chestnut Alborozo. I think the turquoise will really set his color off.
It's Jennifer again. I'm sure everyone will agree that this set turned out extremely well. Thank you so much to Vicky for allowing me to reprint her words and photographs. If anyone else would like to write a guest blogger piece, please do not be shy. I am always happy to share this space with my friends!