Friday, February 28, 2014

Un-natural trail

Most longtime performance showers end up collecting more than just horses.

The "collection creep" starts innocently enough, usually with dolls or cows or dogs.  That progresses to cats and goats and food and vehicles, and before you know it, just about anything that could conceivably be used for an entry is fair game.

Carra McClelland and Morgan Haberman have taken this one step further.  Behold, their infamous "Unnatural trail" entry.
The documentation reads: "Horse and rider come upon the aftermath of the I FELTA THI fraternity scavenger hunt party. None of the fraternity brothers were ever found…"
photo by Carra McClelland
In this set-up, Morgan's Hagen-Renaker, Lippitt Amaury Profit, finds himself coming face to face with a plethora of random--and sometimes otherworldly--obstacles.  These include, but are not limited to, various animals, a mailbox, gargoyles, speakers, and paraphernalia which is only legal to use in Colorado and Washington.
photo by Carra McClelland
Because I don't get out much, I've never actually seen this entry in person.  However, last weekend I had the pleasure of exploring Carra and Morgan's traditional scale Unnatural Trail prop box in the comfort of my own home.
As a lover of all things 1:9 scale, this was so exciting!
Naturally, Teresa went right to the blow up doll...
whereas I was more attracted to the trash can, toilet and bungee cords!
Squee!  Board games with actual game pieces.
Goats and chickens and snakes, oh my!
Did I mention that I really love the bungee cords?  The lantern is cool, too.  It actually works!
So many neat and random things...
Where did they find it all?
Like the lantern, the campfire--which was made by Morgan--also lights up.
A bear and a pirate trail gate?  As Carra says, "Because why not?"
My excited squeals drew the attention of the kids.  They came to investigate and immediately found themselves immersed in Carra and Morgan's world.
My kids have no interest in model horse showing, but Unnatural Trail is another thing entirely.  They were almost as charmed by the contents of this prop box as I was.
I can not wait to see all this stuff on the show table at Springamthing.
What a marvelous explosion of creativity!  As much as I enjoy the serious side of the hobby, I'm glad there's a place for all things weird and wonderful!  Thanks to Carra and Morgan for allowing to share their Unnatural obsession!

P.S.  I really want some miniature bungee cords.  Because why not?

Don't forget!

The auction for the tooled English saddle by Erin Corbett and Jennifer Buxton ends this afternoon at 11:39 PM MST.
Neither Erin or I are taking orders, so this is a rare chance to own a piece of our work.  Please visit the auction and place your bid today!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Hobby daze

Speaking of Teresa...  She and I had a "hobby day" this past Sunday.  
As is usually the case, she didn't arrive empty-handed.  She brought a few things that needed fixing...
as well as this neat Breyer Premiere Collection artwork.  Since I no longer actively collect original finish models, I don't belong to of any of Breyer's clubs.  However, I find this kind of ephemera really appealing.  It almost makes me want to send them some money.
The new Latigo model only reinforces that urge.  What a nice performance prospect he is!  
He's a bit on the small side, though.  The tooled English saddle fit him well enough, but both Teresa and I thought he looked better with a youth rather than adult rider.
I also got to ooh and ah over Teresa's new Arabian halter by Terri Wright.  This is the first time I've seen Terri's work in person, and I wasn't disappointed.  It's just lovely!
Teresa proxy shows for Carra McClelland, so most of the day's most memorable moments came while we were inspecting the contents of Carra and Morgan's infamous Unnatural Trail prop box.  That's the topic of tomorrow's post, however, so instead of sharing that, here's a picture of Carra's Bollywood guy by Keren Gilfoyle-McGroarty.
There are probably a million things I like about the model horse hobby, but spending time with hobby friends is tops on my list.  Thanks for coming, Teresa.  I needed that!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Meeting Khemosabi++++

Jennifer's note:  Usually I write an introduction to each guest blogger piece, but this time the guest blogger did it for me.  How cool is that?

Author's note:  Although this will not come as a surpise to anyone, Jennifer LOOOOVES photographs. When she found a pile of pictures during a recent visit to my house, she couldn't help but wander through the generous 4" stack. There were photos from a wedding my husband and I were in, photos of my horse, me on other horses, various cats and other mementos from years gone by. But what really really got her all excited were the photos from the summer when I visited Khemosabi++++. So, if you aren't inclined to write blogs or scan photos for Jennifer, never ever let her see a pile of photographs in your possession!

Meeting Khemosabi++++

by Teresa Buzzell

The summer of my 16th birthday was an exciting time, with the highlight being the late summer purchase of my horse, Flick! However, before that absolute bombshell, I went to California and I met Khemosabi++++.
We didn't go to California to visit relatives or Disneyland or anything like that. It was a prize I received for not (deliberately) breaking my braces. I'm not sure why my mom felt bribery was necessary - just having the damn things adjusted was painful enough, actually breaking the metal was unthinkable - but, bribe she did.  I had been told that if I got through braces without breakage, I could pick out a big prize.

Through the classified section of JAH, I had made some pen pal friends, and a couple lived in the same general area (San Diego). I decided that I wanted to meet them and to see some of the local attractions (we also went to Sea World and Del Mar Racetrack).
Even at that age, I was an Arab fan. I enjoyed the personalities and quirks, the looks and the temperaments. I had written to different farms, stating that I was a kid (Mom's rule), and asking for farm brochures and the like.  The Arab breeders responded generously! The Villasenors (Khemosabi's long time caretakers) sent a lovely letter, a VCR tape and a reprint of a magazine section all about Khemo – quite more than any "kid" expected! I'm not sure who arranged the farm visit, but we had an appointment to visit Khemo before we boarded the plane to San Diego!

Along with me for most of the trip were two pen pals – Anne and Debbie. Anne lived in San Diego and Debbie lived in Huntington Beach. Like me, they were typical horse crazy kids. Anne had suggested the trip to Del Mar – she was really into horse racing. I can't recall what Debbie added to the itinerary.

Driving onto the Hidden Oaks Ranch property, you could tell that this was a serious horse farm. The pastures were large and lush, the buildings were large and everything was well kept. We met with our guide who took us to Khemo's stall in the main barn. After a quick brush off (which he really didn't need), he was taken out and we were allowed to take photos with him. It was astounding to think that we were standing here with one of the most famous and talented Arab stallions on the planet – double National Champ in Halter AND in Western Pleasure. He was truly gorgeous and quite the gentleman with his "public".
Much to our surprise, we had a guided tour of the entire property. They even took out the other stallion, Amurath Bandoloro+, for us to look at. He was quite a ham – he liked sticking his tongue out for us to scratch. An Egyptian bred Arab, he too had won a National Champion Stallion title in 1978. When comparing the two, the easy assumption was that Khemo was actually younger than Bandoloro. In fact, Khemo had won his first National Champion halter title the year before Bandoloro was born.
While I do not have the promotional materials any more (they were gifted to another hobbyist who had also seen Khemo in person), I did pick up the Arabian Horse World issue memorializing him after he died. It was stirring to read the comments and condolences from around the world about how much Khemo had influenced their horse lives & businesses.

During my time in the hobby, I have met a few  real horses who were later immortalized in plastic or resin but none of them compare at all to that summer of meeting Khemosabi++++.

Thanks to Teresa for sharing her memories of Khemosabi! If you are interested in writing a guest blogger post about the time you met a real live Breyer horse (preferably not at Breyerfest), please email me at

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Meeting Rugged Lark

Without a doubt, the most memorable part of the 1994 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit was my visit to Bo-Bett Farm, home of the two time Super Horse, Rugged Lark.
As life long horse lovers, Cathy and I were veterans of a lot of stable visits. We thought we knew what was in store for us as we drove onto the property, passing several pastures full of beautiful, well-cared for Quarter Horse mares and foals.
We expected that we'd get the chance to meet Rugged Lark, most likely through the bars of his stall door or over a pasture fence. If we were lucky, someone might get him out and stand him up for photos. If we were really, really lucky, we might even get to be in those photos. 
We had no idea. 
We got out at the main barn and introduced ourselves to Rugged Lark's handler. She saw our cameras and asked if we'd like to take pictures of him. We said yes, so she took him out of his stall, brushed him, oiled his feet and handed the lead rope to Cathy.  

"Just take him out to that pasture over there, " she said. "The background should be really nice."

We were incredulous. "Aren't you going to come with us?" we asked.

"Not unless you want me in your pictures," she replied.

Oh. My. God.

So we took Rugged Lark out to the pasture...
and took turns... 
taking photos of each other...
until we ran out of film!
I've met a lot of nice horses in my life, but Rugged Lark was truly exceptional. He was a champion show horse, a sire of champions and as friendly and gentle as any horse I've ever had the pleasure of handling. I am so glad I got to meet him!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Monday horses

The Monday Horses by Jean Slaughter Doty was--and still is--one of my all-time favorite pony books.
After her horse suffers an injury on the trail, Cassie becomes a working student at a top hunter barn.  Although much of the book is focused on the ups and downs of showing, the title refers to the quiet times between the shows, when horse care, rather than riding, takes center stage.
When I lived on the show circuit, Mondays were usually my only non-horsey days.  Occasionally, I'd go to the showgrounds to hack one or both of Judy's hunters, but more often than not, I'd use the day to rest, recuperate and explore whatever city I happened to be in.  During the 1994 HITS Ocala Winter Circuit, however, my off-days were filled with horsey field trips to some of the areas most impressive breeding farms.
My friend, Cathy, arranged these outings, so it's no surprised that Rohara Arabians was our most frequent stop.  
Cathy's mare, Tsouri, was staying there part time while she was being bred to one of the farm's many stallions.
We'd stop in and visit her first, then work our way around Rohara's one hundred and twenty five acres. 
 This pretty stallion is Rohara Samurai.  He was a great favorite of Cathy's.
The most famous horse on the premises was Ivanhoe Tsultan
Ivanhoe Tsultan was one of the first Arabian stallions to sire over one hundred champions, with national winners in halter and EVERY major performance division, including dressage and racing.  He is also, incidentally, the sire of Cathy's Tsouri.
Another stop on our tour of Florida's horse country was Silverleaf Farm in Orange Lake. 
This six hundred and thirty five acre facility was home to several good Throughbred stallions. 
Sadly, I can't remember this one's name... 
but this is Mr. Frisky
Mr Frisky was the Puerto Rican phenom who entered the 1990 Kentucky Derby with an unprecedented record of sixteen straight wins. He finished eighth in the Derby and third in the Preakness. 
Shortly after the Prreakness, he was diagnosed with a life threatening illness.  He recovered and eventually returned to the track, but never matched his early brilliance.
We also spent a Monday visiting Quarter Horses at Bo-Bett Farm in Reddick, Florida.
However, that day was so incredibly awesome it deserves a post of its own!