Sunday, July 31, 2011

Live Show Documentation, Part Three

Live Show Documentation, Part Three

By Teresa Buzzell


Performance is an obvious place for the use of documentation. There are so many different things, with different rules, nuances and what not. What’s acceptable at one breed show may be illegal for another breed and what you can do in a junior horse class may not be allowed in a senior horse class. Again, it’s an area where judges can not be expected to know everything about every sort of horse performance. Plus, showers just love finding new things to do!

There are only two classes I do not regularly have documentation for – hunter pleasure and western pleasure. Everything else has some sort of documentation – and the majority of them have some sort of pattern/test that’s required as part of the demands of the class. Pleasure classes are so basic, with no patterns or special requirements that personally, I don’t bother with on a usual basis. (However, if you are showing a uncommon breed or using a snaffle/bosal, I do recommend documenting that.)

When I’m in need of new documentation for a performance set up, I look up the rules for the class. Many registries have their rule books on line and when I see one, I download it and save it for future use. I do try to update my stash of rule books every year. You never know when that obstacle or all important line about judging criteria is changed! Looking over the information, I make notes of what’s allowed and not allowed tack wise, what the class is judged on and anything that explains the class and requirements. This helps me in my set up – I know whether or not boots are allowed, if a particular obstacle is legal and other helpful hints.

With performance, there is generally a much stronger need to have photos and patterns and you can go overboard quickly. Photos can be tricky to find but again, here’s where a Google Image search can come in super handy. Don’t get hung up on finding the exact photo or having a ton of photos. Do pick a photo that resembles your horse’s way of going, same breed (if breed show event) and what you are trying to portray in a clear manner. Feel free to use multiple photos if they are necessary but make sure that they do not contradict the rest of your documentation or your entry.
Do not sabotage your entry by showing a contradiction between the entry and the documentation or using documentation that does not match your horse. I once judged a parade class with a lovely Knightly Cadence. The documentation stated that the gaits performed were a walk and a trot – yet KC is cantering. Had he been real, breaking into a canter would have been a fault as it’s against the class requirements and not safe if in a street parade. I also once judged a lovely Cleveland Bay going over a fence that could not have been more than 2 ft high – when his documentation said the class height requirements was 4 ft.

If there is one thing that people don’t seem to add into their documentation is the pattern or test that the horse is performing. It used to be a lot harder to find that event course or horsemanship pattern but that’s no longer true. Again, this is when I go to a Google Image search. A regular search will find some but I just find the image search faster. Make sure to go through several pages worth of results until you find a good sampling of what you want. I say sampling as you never know when you’ll swap out horses, find a great new obstacle or just simply get tired of poles and want to do something different. You don’t need to use the whole thing but it’s a very good idea to include the area the horse is performing.

My pet peeves as a judge regarding documentation:

1.       Don’t write a book that tells me nothing. This happened in a costume class at NAN. It was a gorgeous historical costume but the documentation told me nothing about the pieces, who would have dressed their horse up this way, etc. Those details enrich the documentation.
2.       Don’t write a book that could be condensed into a few sentences. Information overload is not your friend and I just may find something in it that tells me your entry is incorrect!
3.       If the horse has a prescribed pattern or test, SHOW at least the part the entry is performing. Saying that the horse is doing “second level dressage” tells me nothing. Every movement in a dressage test is judged and almost everything you do in the test is judged and scored individually. You don’t get to make up your reining pattern or dressage test unless it’s a freestyle, and even then, there are rules about what you can and can’t do. It also shows the (obstacle) placement, what the horse is doing before (which might influence how they would get to or do this part) and, if you’re like me and occasionally directionally challenged, show that you have the horse on the wrong lead.

NAMSHA requires from it’s showers at NAN this: “Your explanation card should not “judge the class”. Please define what the horse is required to do, not how well the horse is performing.”

Keep this in mind when creating your documentation as that’s exactly what the judge needs from you to do their job well.

Now, when it comes to the text of the documentation, I go to the rulebooks as often as possible. Yes, you can try to get around things by saying it’s a schooling show or whatever else that fits but generally, you are showing an event that has rules, guidelines, tack requirements, etc. It used to be that I would get a rule book from then AHSA at the time but now, almost every association has their rule book online. When I find them, I save them to my computer for later use.

You may find an event that you have a photo for but just a bare description of. Or perhaps you have pieced together a description but have no photos or rules for it. Certainly, don’t toss it – just keep it, show it and do a search periodically to see if you can learn more about it, find photos, etc. While a rulebook will lend some legitimacy to it, judges are open to many things.

Here’s what I like to make sure to include in my performance documentation:
·         Class title
·         Class description, including class requirements (gaits, jumping efforts, etc), judging criteria, tack/clothing requirements (if notable),  and other items, such as the color scheme for cross country jump numbers, etc.
·         Citation of the source document.
·         Photo/test/pattern of what is being exhibited.

I hope this of some help to those who are trying to figure out the whole documentation question. Do realize that what works for me may not work for you and certainly, you may come up with something better. I really do believe that improving your documentation can give you a great boost in your showing success. So happy Googling!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Live Show Documentation, Part Two

Live Show Documentation, Part Two

by Teresa Buzzell

Halter and Collectibility

At every show, you’ll see documentation presented in a halter class. It could be to explain a mixed breed, a funky color or an unusual purebred, or a horse being shown as something other than “what’s accepted”.  That has been proven to be a smart move more often than not. No judge can even think about knowing everything about every breed, half breed and color genetic quirk out there. If you show long enough, you will realize that people will win and lose based on their documentation, or lack of.

You’ll often see people putting up a breed book as their documentation. Personally, I dislike this. The books take up valuable real estate on the show table, can be incorrect, are heavy to pack around and can be less than ideal in describing what you want it to.  As a judge, I read all documentation presented and occasionally, it tells me that the horse is not a good representative of the breed I’m being told it is. Since it’s not done by you, you can’t customize it to your distinct needs – be it an unusual color, removing unnecessary bits, etc. Redo the documentation and make it work perfectly for you. 
Teresa doesn't like this!
Many people make a big deal of and get hung up on finding a photo that looks *just* like their model - same pose, same markings/color, same everything. To me, that is much less important. The photo may not actually be a good example of that breed (proving your model is not), not “match” the text or the model may have crooked legs or other issues. Or, you may never find the photo.

When I choose photos, I aim to find a good representative of the breed that is of a “typical for the breed” color. I want a nice, clear, uncluttered view of the side of the horse – standing if possible. I steer towards photos that have a non-distracting background that does not clash or interfere with the viewing of the horse. I may also use a head shot and a photo showing movement – depending on what I want to show off and the size of the documentation sheet. Go for a photo that shares the same traits as the breed and particular model. 
Documentation for silver dapple coloring in a half Arabian
Speaking of color – I do recommend documenting odd or unusual patterns and colors when showing in halter. I happen to have a Pebbles Saddlebred in overo who I show as a purebred ASB. Overo is an unusual pattern to say the least in the ASB world – tobianos are more prevalent. It took a lot of searching but I managed to find several shots and show the horse with the photos as documentation. It has paid off – I had one judge say it would not have placed without the documentation. She won the class and the division championship at that particular show.

When creating the actual guts of the documentation, I like to find the website of the governing body or registry to get the official description of the breed ideal. Sometimes, they do go overboard so I do a little judicious snipping here and there. Things I do try to include are:

·         Height
·         Colors allowed
·         Head/Neck
·         Body
·         Legs/Feet
·         Temperment/Uses
·         Breeds creating the breed
·         Movement/other things that may play a part.
This is a great place to point out a difference such as “mares are shown with a shaved mane and tail”.

The breed name or phrase (such as “Overo Patterns in Saddlebreds”) is the header and the source is cited at the bottom.

I rarely include history of the breed unless it is regarding the breeds making up the breed or other insightful information. While it may be interesting to read, it can be irrelevant for the purpose we are needing. One place I do try include it is when documenting a recreated extinct breed, i.e. Tarpan.

Collectibility is the one area where documentation seems to the most important thing but is rarely used by the shower. I often hear how “hard it is” to do or that someone has “forgotten” or “can’t find anything”.  But, even more than in halter, it can propel you to the top, or the bottom depending upon it’s presence. NAMSHA figures it to be so important that it’s required at NAN in this division and many shows I go to also require it.
Stone collectibility class at the 2011 Springamathing Live Show
If you can’t expect a judge to know every detail about every horse breed, you certainly can’t expect them to know everything about every plastic or china horse ever known. With the advent of numerous SRs, with often confusing information out there, it’s almost impossible to keep up with any one manufacturer, let alone the whole gamut of manufacturers! With new-to-showing hobbyists, the potential of bringing something old (or new!) and unusual is great. Even us “old hats” can be caught by something across the show hall and must simply check it out.

Unfortunately for me, my collectiblity documentation is not computerized. It’s all on hand written 3” x 5” cards – and at one time, they were all color coded according to media. That fell by the wayside -  it was a bit much, even for me. The beauty of the photo sleeves is that the COAs from the Connoisseur series fits in without a problem – as well as many other small COAs (or large 8.5” x 11” sheets!).

Now, what I like to do is create a new card for any horse as soon as the deal is done. That way, time can’t steal the details from my brain and all transaction/sales information is still easily within reach. Also, I have a section in my collection database where I make notes of collectiblity information. Since I acquire new horses very infrequently, this certainly is not time consuming past time and once it’s in the binder, the possibility of it being lost is rather low.
Teresa's blue Flick
I do not care for photos on collectiblity documentation, mainly as I’ve never seen an example that photos enhanced the information presented. You can certainly do so if you wish. Also, I do not care for value guides being laid by the horse or simply printed out from a website. Monetary value is rather subjective and the various guides could be in line one month, and out of line the next. Potential price tag usually makes a poor collectiblity judging criteria – hence why it’s not listed in the NAN judging guidelines for collectiblity.

The information search for collectiblility is conducted the same as a search for anything else, with one exception. Many of the best guides do not have an online presence just an actual book. My 100% favorite Breyer reference is the Nancy Young’s 5th Edition of Breyer Molds & Models: Horses, Riders & Animals. Sadly, it’s out of print and only covers up to 1997 but the information contained within this book is priceless. Nancy Young went into major detail about how the molds and models were created, their official numbers, and those important things such as how to tell which SR buckskin Lady Phase is which.

I do not happen to have any preferences for any other collectible books or sites. The only way to know exactly about any Stones I’ve found is the information you can glean when purchasing from them, directly. Even then, what is said can not be taken as the complete truth. I have heard too many things and have had some odd things happen to myself to be able to truly trust what information is released. Barb Spohr does what she can with the Stone Reference site but she’s dealing with a LOT of different releases and limited time reserves.  And, I must admit that I finally did my documentation on my HRs last year and used a variety of information found online from collectors who are well known and respected for their knowledge. Pour Horses, Horsin’ Around and other boutique artist chinas are easy to do documentation on – a lot of it is given to you on a COA.
Here’s a list of what I try to include on my collectiblity documentation:

  • Header with model number, mold name, release name and color (if necessary)
  • Years the piece was produced and who (if it was a SR)
  • Number of pieces made, if known
  • Number of horse if part of a numbered run (or other ID marks – such as a signature, marked tests, etc)
  • Distribution information (if necessary)
  • Notes on how to tell this from another horse if it’s something that can be confused or unknown. (i.e. “this is from the glossy part of the run” or “this is the mare version”.)
  • Citation of where documentation information was found
I can’t state how important this information is. I know of an entrant at NAN one year with a really unusual piece. She knew what she had and so did those of us from her area but the judges, never encountering this piece, did not and it did not place. Had she had documentation on this horse, she would have gotten at least a Top Ten, if not more. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot before judging even begins!

By the way, if you’re wondering if workmanship classes require documentation, the answer is no. I did attend a show some years back that requested it. I was not keen on it as supplying the judge the painter and sculptor‘s name could lead into them into never really judging each entry on its own merits. As NAN rules state that no documentation should include any information that gives away the horse or owner (i.e. no names), this pretty much makes this a moot point. I can see at some point perhaps mentioning the amount work done and the media used but at this time, that’s not happening that I know of.

Performance tomorrow!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Live Show Documentation, Part One

Live Show Documentation, Part One

By Teresa Buzzell

First, thanks to Jennifer who told me she’d LOVE it if I wrote something about documentation…so she wouldn’t have to! But still, thanks to her for letting me put words to electronic format about something I feel rather passionate about. This will be a multiple part series. I did mention I was passionate about it.

Documentation… part 1 – The How-to-Do-It-Yourself Part

When I started in the model horse hobby, documentation as we know it really didn’t exist. Only the odd things had any and even then, it would be just a 3” x 5” card with a hastily written note. 
Trail entry by June Westenbarger, circa 2000
As the years have gone by, documentation has gotten more sophisticated and expected, even for those events that are the most common. NAMHSA only requires collectiblity documentation at NAN and suggests it for the other divisions as necessary. Other shows do the same or at the very least, suggest it for those less obvious entries. It’s been proven that the correct documentation can help you win, the incorrect can help you lose and it’s still one of those showing things that people have a problem with.
Trail Entry by Jennifer Buxton, Blue Skies Live 2011
In the interest of full disclosure, my model friends consider me rather overly organized. I am that shower who always has tags, extra pens, an extra classlist, a typed list of classes with their entries in them, etc etc. This organization kick really only extends to those things I want it to – the fridge frequently has science experiments inhabiting it. This blog will cover how to create documentation, how to find it, how to organize it and how to store it. We’ll get into the more specific things – halter vs collectiblity vs performance too. I do not expect anyone to do what I do 100% exactly – please adapt and change things to meet your needs and personal organization criteria. This is just what has proven to work for me.
In Hand Trail entry by Teresa Buzzell
How to Create Documentation – the Guts:
There are several ways you can get documentation. You can purchase ready-made documentation. You can copy others’ documentation. You can beg a friend to do yours when they do theirs. Or, you can make your own. Personally, I create my own, customizing the documentation for my horse(s), my tack and my props.  Yes, I am a graphic designer and have access to some excellent layout programs but you don’t need to have my skills to do your own documentation.
First, I check the rulebook and descriptions of what I need to document. Only then do I go searching for photos. Not only do I want to find photos that show the horse but I want to see what’s used in the class and what is expected of the “look” of the horse. Google Images is the BEST help for image surfing. Addition, subtraction and substitution of breeds and disciplines can be very useful in your search so take the time and experiment with your search phrases.
Results for "AQHA trail horse"
On search results, you’ll see that you have a few photos that are not what you’re looking for. Check out the other photos – perhaps that trail photo of the horse working the gate is something else that you’re looking for. Don’t be scared to keep looking through all the pages. While you may find what you’re looking for on page 3, you can sometimes find other things on page 30 that you need too. I have found some of the best images when looking for something else!
Unusual results in a search for "Saddleseat"
Now, if it’s something really rather hard to find, you may need to dig a little deeper. Do a normal Google search for the event. If that doesn’t work, try Googling for horse show photographers and mention the breed in your search box. Often, you can find the more specific examples on their sites. You may have to spend a little bit of time going through the class results but if you find the photo you need (or other photos you didn’t realize you needed), it’s time well spent.

Should you be worried that your photos match your entry exactly? No. More on this later…I promise.

I can’t emphasize enough that this documentation search is really a search for you to learn how the event works or how the breed can vary. Try to find some local real horse shows that include the events you are want to learn about. Many are free for spectators and can hold a wealth of knowledge and opportunity for you to take your own photos. Just grab a friend and go! Watching a few classes should give you a feel for what a good entry looks like and how things can go wrong. If you can’t find something live, check out the videos on YouTube. The living, breathing, moving thing is the best to learn from.
A helpful hint – don’t just do your photo search once and never search again. Wait 4 – 6 months, or some day when the weather is crappy and you are sick/bored/etc and search again. The Internet is a living, breathing beast of an information highway. Sites are being updated all the time. That search that gave you problems before, you may hit pay dirt on now.

Putting Stuff on Paper

I use my computer to create most of my documentation. With the use of the Adobe Creative Suite software, I can recreate patterns/tests, edit photos and cut and paste parts of the rule books into my documents with a lot of ease and speed. Then I can pretty it all up to my liking. However, you don’t need to be an expert to do this. Use what you have and use what you know – be it Publisher or Word or even hand written if you wish!
In progress documentation
First and foremost, let me get on my designer soap box. Keep your fonts reasonably sized – from 8pt to 13 pt. Text is not only hard to read when it’s too small but it’s also hard to read when it’s too big. Also, single line spacing is fine – too much between the lines is also hard to read. Don’t go overboard on the bold, italics or all cap text – again, it makes it hard to read. When resizing your photos, don’t go over the original photo size – the pixilation is rarely helpful to your cause. And, do not distort your photo when resizing it. No horse looks better with a longer back than natural!

According to the rules for NAN, documentation must be this:
“Explanation cards should be limited to 3" x 5" in size; additional documentation is limited to one 8.5" x 11" sheet.”

My interpretation is this: “don’t go over an 8.5” x 11” sheet”. So, unless it’s somewhat information or photo heavy, all of my documentation is all 5” x 7”-ish or smaller. It fits roughly two to a page on the print outs and fits into my storage system. Plus, I find it’s just the right amount of space to use – not too long and potentially time consuming to read and not so short as to leave out any answers to the mental questions a judge may have.
For those things I have that are information or photo heavy, I still fill only a 8.5” x 11” sheet. But, just because there’s more room does not mean that you can throw out all the other layout guidelines. You want to make your documentation inviting to read by the judge, not a crowded mess that loses their interest half way through.

Otherwise, the format is really up to you. I make sure there’s a header (class title/breed name), a photo, the explanation text and the source where the text came from cited at the bottom. I like to cite where I get my information. I believe it gives the documentation more legitimacy. Sometimes, it’s hard to do that when you use several different sources or if you go off a description that’s not in a rule book but I like to include it whenever possible.
More documentation by Teresa
Once you’re done – spell check it and make sure your grammar is decent. No, you aren’t judged on it. But, it’s my opinion that if you make sloppy mistakes on your documentation, it’ll carry over into your entry. And yes, this is experience talking!

What to do with it at the end of the day…Storage

My documentation is contained entirely within a binder, with tabs for each section and a pouch with an extra pen and 3x5 cards. I take it to every show I go to and if I lost it, I could replace most of it within a matter of 10 minutes as it’s all on the computer. I have it in sections -  halter, color references, collectability, English performance, Western performance and other performance. Within each section, breeds and events are alphabetized and the collectiblity information is also alpha by manufacturer and then by size.

I use the photo sleeves that contain 2 to 3 spots per sheet for each of my pieces of documentation. Yes, they were easier to find at one time but you can often find them in the scrapbooking section or online. (Again, Google is your friend!) I just try to cut it all out as neatly as possible so it fits into each sleeve. If it’s for the same class, but tailored to an obstacle (such as jumpers or trail class), I just put them all together in one section of the sleeve.
Teresa's binder
The beauty of this system is that it works well. Everything is at my fingertips when I need it quickly. If I have a few extra minutes, I can find whatever documentation I need and set it by the horse it goes with. Then, when I’m done, I can shove it back into the binder and it’s kept safe for the next time I need it. 

Next up – Halter documentation!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One year

It's hard to believe an entire year has passed since I said goodbye to my beautiful Abbie.
I still think about her every day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Almost wordless Wednesday

According to the adage: The devil is in the details.  That may be true, but when it comes to model horses I prefer:  The genius is in the details.  Here are some of the details that caught my eye at last week's Horses N Hangars Live show in Broomfield, Colorado.
'Tumlinson Ziryab resin by Jennifer Kroll
Williams Matriarch resin by Jennifer Scott

Eberl Mulinette resin by Cindy Williams

Miller Jasmine resin by Sheila Anderson Bishop

Williams Venator resin by Heather Bullach
Williams Venator resin by Heather Bullach
Custom Stone Warmblood by Jennifer Read

Scott Sencillo resin by Sheila Anderson Bishop
Customized Gerhardt Boreas resin by Sheila Anderson Bishop
Scott Sencillo resin by Sheila Anderson Bishop
Customized Breyer Zippo by Pamala Hutton
Customized Breyer Zippo by Pamala Hutton
Williams Valor resin painted by Carol Williams

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Horses N Hangars resin workmanship

In addition to the regular resin halter division, the Horses N Hangars Live show also included a full resin workmanship division.  Classes were split by color and ranged in size from small...
to medium...
to really, really large!
Proving that bigger isn't always better, both the NAN cards in that big Bay class went to minis.
There were only two horses in the Black class and they both belonged to me! 
Palomino/ Buckskin was another big class. 
With so many beautiful horses on the table... 
I was really surprised when top honors went to my U-Know resin!  This little girl was sculpted by Kristina Lucas Francis and was painted by Hilary Schwafel.
Chestnut is perhaps my favorite horse color, so I have a lot of nice chestnuts.  Consequently, I was somewhat less surprised to do well in that class. 
Sweet Basil is a Morgen Kilbourn Hazel resin painted by Jennifer Scott.
Validator is a Valor resin.  He was sculpted and painted by Carol Williams. 
Here's a look at most of the Overo/Tovero class.
I had four horses on the table.  My Dalpe boys were fourth and fifth...
and my Calamity Jane was second.  Like Princess Buttercup, Prodigal Daughter was painted by Hilary Schwafel. 
The Tobiano class was another big one... 
with two full tables of spotted horses. 
Once again, my gang did me proud.  Poka Tia was third, Dagobert was second... 
and Andromeda Melody was first!  This Rio Rondo Park Arabian was sculpted and painted by Carol Williams.  She's pictured with Wonderscope, who is one of the few models I've finished myself.
The last class of the day was Other Color/Mixed Patterns.  The winner was a lovely Silver Dapple half Arabian owned by Kim.  My spotty long-eared pair finished second and third.
Call back table number one.
Call back table number two.  Sigh.  So many pretty horses!
I didn't take individual pictures of the champions, but the Kim's Indy won top honors with her Matriarch getting the reserve.  Congratulations once again, Kim!