Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Back to dolls

Last weekend my friend, Erin Corbett, attended the Rose City Live show in Portland, Oregon with one goal in mind--to qualify each and every one of her performance horses for next year's NAN.  To that end, she brought all her best tack, props and documentation.  She meant to bring her best dolls, too, but somehow they got left at home.
No matter.  Erin is an extremely capable and experienced performance shower.  After the initial panic subsided, she went ahead and showed her horses as she'd planned just sans dolls.
Because she is capable and experienced, she did just fine.  All her horses qualified for NAN, and she proved that--at least on this one occasion--you do not need dolls to succeed in the performance ring.
I am often asked if dolls are mandatory for performance.  The short answer, of course, is no.  Rider dolls have never been required, at least not on this side of the Atlantic.

That said, a good riderless entry...
will never look as complete or polished as a good entry...
Cutting entry by Lu Heater
with a great doll. 
Cutting doll by Lu Heater
You do not need a doll to show performance.  You do not even need a doll to win, at least not in many regions.  However, if you want to be consistently competitive at the national level...  well, then you probably need to get a doll!
P.S. Erin's website is a work in progress.  Please check back later to see all the pretty saddles.


  1. I've always been told - and seen - that a good doll will make an entry and a bad one will break it!

  2. I am working like a madwoman on that site - hoping to have a whole bunch of photos going up tonight in fact!

  3. As someone who doesn't show performance, I actually like looking at the performance scenes WITHOUT dolls. I'm going to offend doll makers here but the dolls for one never have the same life in them as the horses, the doll will always look like a doll. Secondly, the dolls cover up the most gorgeous tack! I want to see ALL the tooling and all of the tack!

    My opinions don't matter remember - don't show performance, don't judge performance though I've been thinking about trying to learn how to (and I would never mark anyone down for a properly used doll of course) but they just aren't my thing.

  4. I agree and disagree with what Kristen said. Yes, MOST dolls look like dolls and will always look like dolls. But it is possible to make a doll look more human. Even a Breyer doll, I have worked a long time on that trick though it takes a lot of extra work. The new Yvonne doll has actually fooled some people in photos, just like some models have. Perhaps one day we can have dolls as super realistic as the horses they ride. I'm working on it :)

  5. It's true that dolls are a double edged sword. Poorly dressed and improperly posed, they will absolutely detract from an entry. However, there are so many talented doll artists in the hobby these days. It's really not that difficult to find a well dressed, good riding doll.

    When I'm judging, I won't mark an entry down just because it doesn't have a doll. As far as I'm concerned, a riderless entry (in most instances anyway) is roughly equal to an entry with an ok but not exceptional doll. It's better than an entry with a bad doll, but less good than an entry with a great doll.

    At the top levels of performance showing (NAN, Breyerfest), there are going to be entries with great dolls. If you want to do well, you're going to have to embrace the doll.

  6. WOW! I cannot WAIT to see Erin's site! She has some truly LOVELY models! To die for!

  7. Over here dolls are mandatory and while I agree with the idea that a bad doll can totally ruin an otherwise perfect entry, I still can't get used to seeing performance entries without them! They often look like the horse has chucked their rider earlier on and are in the process of making a getaway!
    The funniest riderless entry I ever saw was I think in some of the winning photos from NAN one year - someone had a brilliant polo pony setup - fantastically painted horse, beautiful tack...and the polo mallet propped up against the side of the horse because there was no rider! XD

  8. Speaking of making dolls look human, one model artist I'm amazed at is Juliane Garstka of Germany. I don't know how to make a link here but it's (and also on my TSII links). Much of her talent is photography, but they always give me a kick!