Monday, May 10, 2010

Live showing in Germany

Today is Day four of the Buxton family plumbing crisis and the end is still not in sight. Once again I have my hands full with non-tack issues, so I am very grateful to my friend Erin Corbett for providing today's post.

Erin is a top notch Western saddlemaker who recently moved from Portland, Oregon to Leeuwarden, The Netherlands . This is an account of her first European live show.

Morsbach Live Show, Germany by Erin Corbett

I thought you guys might be interested in my stories/photos from my first live show I went to this weekend, in Morsbach Germany!
I have to start off by saying that this isn’t meant to be any judgments about which is better or worse, shows in Europe or in the US. They are just very very different, and of course the differences really stand out to me as a newcomer who has shown for so long in the US.

The class list is different, instead of many breed classes there are just a handful. It’s pretty flexible about what class your horse goes in – for example, there was no Morgan or Other Light class, so my Knightly Cadence that I show as a Morab went in with the Arabians. There is not a workmanship division, so just ‘halter’ so to speak. The same goes for OFs. You also don’t assign specific breeds to your horses, unless there’s a really strong reason to say what you’re calling your horse. For example, my Vertical Limit goes in the Warmblood class, but I don’t say what sort of warmblood I call him. The only horse that I listed a breed for the whole day was my Cadence, because that mold is a morgan mold, but I had him in with the Arabians like I said above.
For performance, there was a “performance” section and a “tack” section. The former is closest to what we have in the US for performance, except with a much more limited class list. This weekend there was one class for Western and one for English, for example. In these classes it’s not a good idea to enter something like western pleasure – they really want to see something more involved. I did two western trail entries, and then jumping for English. The tack classes are just what they sound like – you just put your tacked up horse on the table, and it’s judged on the quality of the tack. Fit and adjustment don’t count at all in these classes, you can just drape the reins across the saddle and you’re good to go.
I learned that for most shows in Germany, there are no assigned judges, the entrants do it all. When you enter you submit a list of the horses you are planning to show, with a listing of the classes they will go in. Then when you get to the show, you are given a paper with the classes you will judge that day, determined by what you’re not showing in.

The championships are done similarly – when you enter you get an envelope of tickets. For each championship, all of the entrants go around the tables and place their ticket next to the entry they think should win, and the horse with the most votes is Champ, second is Reserve. If there’s a tie, the voting is re-done with a show of hands.
The ribbon colors are also new – first is gold or yellow, second is silver or grey, third is copper or red or something similar, and then the others change from show to show. For this show, they were as follows:

First: Yellow
Second: Gray
Third: Red
Fourth: Blue
Fifth: Green
I also got a kick out of the different ways things are pronounced. For example, the ISH isn’t “ish” like most Americans say, it’s the “ee-ess-ha”. Resins are raisins, which I LOVE. I’m going to tell everybody I collect $300 raisins from here on out. OFs are “offs”. I think my favorite new way of saying a name is Matriarch. In German she is “mah-tree-arsh”, with the r rolled of course. So pretty!

Now that the ‘what’s different’ is out of the way, I’ll talk a little about how I did! I was really quite nervous going into this show, being a foreigner and totally new to everything here I didn’t know how I or my horses would be received. As it turns out, my fears were completely not justified! Everybody was really friendly and very complimentary about my horses – sometimes in English, and sometimes in German and translated by Melanie. I won a bunch of classes, including the Western performance class that was really big! That win was HUGE for me, since it was of course using tack I made. That entry went on to be Reserve Champ Performance!
Tahtib, my mini Nahar by Mel Miller was first in Arabians and then Overall Champ Mini Resin as well. Having the champs done by popular vote almost made them more exiting to win – you know it’s not just one person that likes your entry; it’s the majority of the entrants!
I gave out my e-mail address and website many times for people interested in ordering saddles, which really made my day. To have my work so well received in a new country is like a dream come true.

All in all, the show was fantastic. There’s another one in June I hope to get to, and then the big ‘Breyerfest’ show in August that I am already entered for. Showing models has been such a big part of my life for so many years that it’s a great relief to have been to a show in Europe and know that they are going to be every bit as enjoyable as they were in the states - at least if the rest in Germany and in Holland are anything like this one was!

Of course none of this would have been possible without Melanie Knuttel. She invited me to stay at her home and go with her to this show, and was my super awesome interpreter for the day! I had SO much fun discussing everything from resins to politics to health care to history with her, and cannot wait to do it again! I am SO thankful for all of her help with interpreting the show information, helping me get my horses in the right classes, and just generally minimizing my opportunities to make a fool of myself.

Thanks again, Erin for allowing me to repost this. If you would like to see more pictures of Erin's tack, please check out her website at:


  1. Happy to help, and I hope it's interesting to some!

  2. Well, it was certainly interesting to me so I'm sure it will be just as interesting to everyone else. The only problem is that now I want to go to a live show in Germany! :)

  3. Very interesting. I like the popular vote aspect, especially with Champs/Res. Makes more sense to me, and hopefully negates a little "favoritism" sometimes people/judges have. Never like to hear a judge say "I picked this horse as champ because it's my favorite color" (which has happened at shows I've been to a couple times). I don't know if I could pick just ONE western or english setup to do though... I have WAY too many things I could do :)

  4. Wow, so completely different! I'm sure it will take some getting used to. It does sound like you had a great time!

  5. Fascinating! Thank you Erin, for the photos and commentary. I'd be lost without our usual amount of performance classes, but the "popular vote" idea is intriguing. And imagine *NOT* having to recruit and pay judges, and no one complaining about the judge not being "qualified"! It's great to see how differently things are done elsewhere :)

  6. This would have been my first German show too but my study got in the way... It looks like it's been a great show! A little different from Dutch shows but still very similar.

    Erin, are you coming to the live show in Amstelveen next month? I really hope to see you there (if you need any help, let me know!) but otherwise I'll maybe see you in Fröndenberg in June :)

  7. Yes, very interesting!

    As someone who has recently discovered the world of model collecting, I find the way model horse shows are run very odd, and it's interesting to see that the Europeans do it differently. For example, why the (American) fixation on breed? I've competed and won plenty of ribbons with and against real live horses that I literally didn't have a clue what the breeding was. But if it's a model horse, apparently it has to be a "half Morgan quarter Arabian (and not just Arabian but some specific variety and bloodline) quarter TB" in order to show well, even if it's depicted going in a jumper class, where the thing could be a mule with an extra ear and no one would care. And who first decided that model horses should be judged based on whether they would win in a real class? I'd rather see a beautifully-depicted scruffy, swaybacked school horse than another boring perfectly turned out version of the same three models which win every time because there's general agreement that they have the best conformation. And why must everything be up to date with the latest rules and fashions in tack and turnout? Model horses are immortal - they don't age or die - so why isn't it just as valid to say your entry shows something that took place circa 1978? Why should one rough spot on an otherwise stunning looking original piece of art make it "unshowable"? It just strikes me that apparently there's a whole hobby full of people who don't care about the same things I care about, and their set of standards is accepted by everyone without question. So it's nice to see that there are at least slightly different standards overseas.

  8. Interesting yes, would I want to show that way? No. I have never had issues with large classes or anything else but to me, it seems as if you might as well toss the ribbons up and let them fall where they may. Your excellent jumper entry may get 6th while someone's excellent trail entry might get 3rd and an excellent dressage entry wins the class. Why can't all three of these vastly different entries all be lauded with the first place ribbon?

    I like the idea of the tack classes though. I'm betting those who make their own tack would enjoy the heck out of 'em. Me who buys all her own stuff would feel a bit ridiculous participating.

    Alli - why not a fixation on breed? Why not have 35 breed classes that you can put as many as three entrants in each class? What's wrong with judging like vs like?

    Realism has been something the majority of model horse collectors have been going for since the hobby started, in what, the 60s/70s? Realism also means you pay attention to scale, the ABCs and other things. What would you have entries judged upon otherwise?

    You *can* present a historical entry and you *can* present an entry that's true to real life but not necessarily "showable", even in real life. I can't say your entry will be appreciated by the judge or your fellow showers. It may be appreciated but judged to not be as great as a more modern appearing entry. It's all about what else is on the table.

    Don't rail at us who don't share your views on the hobby. Figure out how you can enjoy the most out of the hobby and pursue it. There is no wrong or right way to collect model horses.

  9. This is a really interesting article. As a UK shower it seems we do things slightly in between the US and Continental shows. We usually decide on judges like the German way, though we do give out this lists sooner so people can research the classes/breeds they will be judging. We also give entrants the option of opting out of judging particular classes (for example I usually opt out of offering to judge Arab classes!). Championships are usually judged by anyone who doesn't have a horse in it, and they have a good old dicussion and come to a mutual conclusion.

    Erin you should come over to the UK and visit one of our shows! Grab the ferry over at some point and we'll show you how we do it!

  10. Lauren, I would LOVE to come over to the UK for a show! Now that I've braved six hours of trains with a huge suitcase, a train to the coast and then a ferry sounds like no big deal, haha!

  11. Really interesting post, thanks for sharing, Erin and Jennifer!

    I think there are lots of different ideas on how shows should be handled even in the US, so it's neat to get a different perspective. I really like the idea of judging tack separately, and the popular vote might not go over too well in the US, but it could be a fun "extra" thing to do.

    1. Carol, here in Australia there was a show that judged the tack separately - it wasn't even on a horse! I didn't go so I'm not sure how they judged it/presented the tack.