Sunday, September 15, 2013

The eyes have it

I know this is hard to believe, but it's raining again.  All this rain has made me  sad and weary, so I'm taking a little break and letting someone else do the blogging.  Today's post is a guest piece by Susan Hargove.  This was originally posted on her Positively Perfect Performance blog.  Thanks a million, Susan!

The "Eyes" Have It!

by Susan Hargrove

One of the most important things you can do to take your model horse performance set-up to the "next" level is to use a doll...and use it correctly. I am a firm-believer that using dolls when showing model horses in performance classes is a MUST!! Horses in the "real" world do not SHOW themselves. I have yet to see a dressage horse performing a test, a jumper galloping around a course or a cutting horse working a cow with no just doesn't happen. And it shouldn't in the model horse world either. is more work to use a doll in your set-up (and they can be expensive...but they don't have to be)...but it gives us the opportunity to create something that looks REAL rather than like someone playing with "toy" horses.
One of the most important things when using a doll is to have her in the "correct" position...and the most important part of "position" is having the doll "looking" where she and the horse are going!! I know...many judges are going to tell me the most important part is having the doll actually sitting "down" in the saddle.  I've seen a lot of dolls "sitting down in the saddle" and staring off into space...literally looking up at the stars. If you're taking a casual ride on your horse out on the might be staring off at the scenery...BUT...if you are in the "show" arena performing in a had better be looking WHERE you are going. The correct body position of the doll and WHERE she is "looking" is what makes a horse and rider combination take on a "realistic" appearance.
If your horse is working a cow in a cutting or working cowhorse class, the rider had better have her eyes on that cow every second to try and figure out which way it's going.  If you're showing a hunter or jumper...the rider had better be looking at either the jump he/she is coming up to...OR...if she is in the air going over a jump...she should be looking to where the NEXT jump on the course is. If your set-up is a western pleasure class the doll should generally be looking straight ahead (although in the "real" horse world a rider may be looking around to keep track of the "traffic" in a large class...they are still not staring off "into space").
The obstacle in a trail class determines WHERE the rider will be looking.  If the rider is jogging/trotting or loping/cantering over ground poles he/she is going to be looking where they are going in order to judge the "stride-length" they are going to need to negotiate the obstacle cleanly. They may need to shorten or lengthen the stride in order to enter the obstacle at the correct "stride" point to clear all the ground poles in the obstacle. If they are crossing a bridge or water box...the rider generally glances down at the obstacle to determine exactly "where" they are in the obstacle so they can maneuver their horse through it cleanly.
The speed of gymkhana/games classes truly requires the rider to be "looking" WHERE they are going. Running a pole bending, barrel racing, keyhole, flag race, etc. pattern necessitates split-second timing and concentration.
A doll can be the "winning" addition to your him/her to be focused on the class they are riding in.


  1. Ah, making dolls look less like dolls. One of my favorite things. Great post!

  2. great post pls make a tutorial on boots pls

    maybe next month if u agree pls say horsemazing

    remember horsemazing everyone say it pls so u can learn to make her boots


    1. I'm not sure which boots you are referring to, Rebekah. I have written a two part tutorial on making doll boots. You can find it by clicking on "tack tips" on the labels list.

      If you want instructions on how to make horse boots, I would strongly recommend purchasing either the Western or English accessory kits from Rio Rondo. The kit boots aren't as fancy as the ones I make, but they're a really good starting point.

      As a general rule, I don't like to do tutorials for things covered in either the Rio Rondo kits or Susan Bensema Young's Guide.

  3. ok i meant the horse boots are u wathching the manning bowl go ELIE MANNING...well can u atleast do a tutorials on something like how to fix a horses leg


    1. Hi Rebekah,

      Jen's blog is amazing but she does usually try to focus on tack and performance showing.

      For more general model horse questions or info on the hobby, there are lots of resources out there and a quick Google search will usually turn up the answer. Breyer has a tutorial on repairing legs on their website ( and other forums where lots of people can answer your questions quickly include Model Horse Blab or Yahoo groups like Haynet.

      Blab has a forum just for youth, and I think Breyer has a kids club too. Those would be great places to meet other people in the hobby who would also be happy to help out!

    2. ok thanks do u collect resins or breyers kim


  4. Praying your rain ends soon! Thanks for sharing the guest post!

  5. A-HAH - thanks to this post, I have now figured out just what it is that makes some dolls look extremely realistic, and others not so much. It is definitely where they are looking! Very interesting. I will be sure to make note of this from now on!

  6. Hi Jennifer, I'm so sorry for your rain and hope it goes away :( but I'm kinda stuck, I just recently started a saddle and tried to make knee rolls, I couldn't do it, how do you do it? And do you need a very thin piece of leather to put ontop? And I work in the SM scale, you can check out my blog to see what I've done so far, thanks!! Hope you reply