Saturday, March 24, 2012

The evolution of the hobby cow

Twenty years ago, there were two main types of hobby cattle.  The first was the remade Breyer calf.  
photo by Carol Gerhard 
These were ok for roping...
photo by Carol Gerhard
but a bit small and babyish for cutting.
photo by Carol Gerhard 
The other option was a hand carved wooden cow from Donna Fischer. 

These were advertised in all the hobby publications of the day.  They weren't terribly realistic, but the price was right and they came in all sorts of poses without the age and size issues of the remade Breyers. 
And then...
Carol McConnell (now Herden) came along and changed everything! 
Even though I had yet to attend a live show, I knew a good thing when I saw it.  Carol's cows were so much better than the remade and wooden cows.  I gathered my pennies...
and ordered a tied calf,
a running calf,
(not the original paintjob!)
and a running steer.
I've got my money's worth out of the calves, but the steer has yet to see the inside of a show ring.  However, online research indicates that Emma is a better candidate for team or steer roping than she is for calf roping.  I really want to add some cattle classes to her repertoire so today I dug up that old steer.

Unfortunately, that which was state of the art in 1994 is looking pretty rough by 2012 standards.  I really don't need another Emma project, but this guy's issues are impossible to ignore.   
I know a lot of people would say, "He's just a prop.  He doesn't need to be perfect," but you know, that's not the point.  I bought this guy because he wasn't just another prop.  He was new and exciting and so much better than all the hobby cows that had come before him.  He was never intended to be mediocre, and I'm looking forward to helping him regain his former glory! 


  1. Wow! I've never seen the evolution of the hobby cow before! i thought the second generation of Carol's sculptures was it :-) Thanks for showing these !

  2. You're welcome, Sian! There's really no point in me having this big stash of old hobby magazines if I can't share them with everyone else. Plus, it always seems that this is a hobby that doesn't remember its past very well. I think that's a shame, so I'm doing my best to rectify the situation.


  3. This blog was a "blast from the past" for me. I never bought the wooden cows, but I did buy a bunch of them (5?) from Carol at my first BF in 1997!

    The steer is just a prop. Really. Speaking as a judge, I do not look at the cows other than to tell if they are positioned correctly in relation to the horse. One thing you will need if you're going to do steer roping is a good neoprene horn wrap. Remember it also covers the ears, too.

  4. I totally agree that prop quality is not a major factor in placing a class. Certainly, it's not the first, second, third or even fourth thing I look at!

    However, I do think that a bad prop is a distraction. It detracts from the overall appearance of the entry and makes everything look a bit less polished. A good judge like you can look past that. Not all judges are that good though.

    For myself, I like all the parts of my entries to be of a similar quality. Honestly, I wouldn't show a horse/tack/doll that looked as bad as this steer. I wouldn't even consider it!

    I'm not planning to spend weeks and weeks on this steer, but I know I will like him better when the prepping and *major* anatomical issues have been addressed. Really, this makeover is all about making me happy. It has nothing to do with future showring success.

  5. Any chance you have the next page of the "Do Cows Have Scales?" article?