Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Performance showing

It's Tuesday, so that means it's time for Part Four of guest blogger, Lauren Mauldin's model horse showing series.    Today's topic is near and dear to my heart--performance showing.  Enjoy!

Model Horse Showing IV--Performance

by Lauren Mauldin

Last week we talked about resins and customs and the week before we talked about OF halter, but this week we get to talk about my favorite part of model showing... performance!

What is Performance showing?

What is performance in a nutshell?  Well, remember how you played with your Breyer horses as a kid and had them jump over little jumps or run around little barrels and squealed with delight with the little saddles they wore?
It's pretty much that, but way more hard core.

A good performance entry is a snapshot of a real horse event, scaled down in miniature.  The horse, props, tack should accurately portray the action of the event.  Instead of sitting on our hands and knees having our plastic ponies "jump" the fences, we freeze frame it and obsess over every tiny detail.

And I do mean every tiny detail.
Yes, that's a miniature ear bonnet!
Part of a 'Christmas' Scene class
How does the show work?

Performance usually falls into two categories, OF and CM/AR, meaning that factory finish horses (more generic poses) normally don't have to compete against CM/AR horses (sometimes very specific poses for a specific event).  Under those two broad umbrellas, there are different divisions.  The complexity of the divisions will vary by show, but the usual suspects are:
  • Harness (the only performance division I didn't show in)
  • Other (Showmanship, Scene, Saddleseat, Trail, Etc)
  • Costume (Native American, Arabian, Parade, Etc)
An "Other" Class, In-Hand Trail
  • Stockhorse or Action Western (Cattle Classes, Reining, Speed Events)
  • Western (Western Pleasure, Western Trail, Non-Speed Games, Etc)
  •  Sporthorse or Action English (Jumper, Hunter, Dressage, Eventing)
  • English (English Pleasure, English Trail, Non-Speed Games, Etc.
Depending on the size of the show, each division will have 3-4 classes or more.  Entries are awarded ribbons in each class, and then a section Champion and Reserve of each class.  Usually there is also an Overall performance champion and reserve chosen.
Basically, unlike CM and AR halter, your performance horse can win a lot of ribbons (especially if you are good at tack changes).  This is one of the reasons why I loved performance - the challenge of taking one pose and fitting it into as many classes as possible was super fun for me.  Also, I love ribbons.
How is it Judged?

Since performance is a frozen snapshot of a real event, the first criteria of judging is accuracy.
  • Is the horse doing what it's supposed to be doing?
  • Is the striding right for jumping?
  • Is the position right for cow classes?
  • Is the tack all legal for the event described?
  • Is the doll riding properly?
  • Are the props to the right scale and accurate for the class?
The biggest way to take yourself out of the competition is to make a big glaring error in your documentation or set-up for a particular class.  Example?  One time I had my horse going the wrong way in a dressage test... my diagram and documentation said he needed to be going left and I had a blonde moment and putting him going right.  Out of the ribbons for me.
After that, it's really how cool your setup is.  Is the tack realistic?  Props beautiful?  Are there lots of little details?  For performance, it's all about the accurate details.
Hands down, this is still one of my favorite things in the world to do.  I got really cracked out on performance.  My favorite was taking a cheap OF Breyer and seeing how many things it could do.  Another great thing about showing this many different classes was learning about divisions that you may never show in.
Do you know the legal tack for working cow horse?  I do, and I'm a hunter princess!  Aside from amazing artistic achievements in CM and AR models, I also think performance has the biggest "wow factor".  People are really amazed at how perfect and tiny these setups can be!
A "Mardi Gas" Parade entry complete with glitter tack and miniature Mardi Gras beads
I don't remember the name of this game, but it was a Pony Club one and involved a pie... which is sculpted in mini clay

I only pictured mine today because I'm fond of them and they bring back a sense of nostalgia for me, but if you find these setups interesting I highly encourage you to check out Braymere Custom Saddlery's collection of live show pictures because she has some photos of some of the greatest performance setups in the world!

Also, don't forget about the giveaway of a little pack of Novice Live Show Quality or Photo Show Quality prizes. We're getting closer to our winner drawing date... and I've found some more fun goodies to add including a beautiful stock horse medallion painted by Laura Skillern and another adorable SM custom!  Use the widget below to enter for your chance to win these fabulous prizes (and maybe some other surprises)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thank you for sharing my little obsession with performance! I still love all these entries and when I look back on the pictures, wish I still had a lot of the stuff ;)

  2. Awesome post, I love scrolling through looking for pics of my tack! :-D

    1. And I love that I got to feel and use quality tack from both of you guys!!! :-D

  3. Although I've never shown, I can certainly understand how performance showing could become an obsession. Having to have the specific model and the "just right" tack, sure!
    And if someone is a fanatic with attention to detail anyway, well... enough said. I could absolutely go down the rabbit hole on that!

    Really enjoyed your guest blogs Lauren.
    It was an informative glimpse into a world I know nothing about but hope to participate in someday.

  4. Hi, I had an idea for a post...Could you write about resin/breyer ponies...maybe with kid riders..those are my favorite! Thanks