Friday, April 6, 2018

Not your grandma's model horse show

There's nothing better than playing ponies with friends, so I love model horses. It doesn't really matter if they're big or small/ I love them all, but more than anything, I love that color outside the lines. Today's guest post is about an innovative show I wish I had attended plus a great list of ideas for show holders who want to try something different. Thanks, Sarah Townsend!

Alternative Model Horse Show Formats

by Sarah Townsend

Like it or not, the hobby is changing. A lot of people, including me, have started to re-think the traditional live show format. In 2016, I put some of those thoughts into practice when I held Hoosier Pony Live in Bloomington, Indiana. 
photo by Liz Larose
Hoosier Pony Live was an all Yellow Card show with lots of classes in collectibility and workmanship. The OF collectibility classes were separated by year and type...
1980's Breyer callbacks
photo by Alison Pareis
and the custom classes were judged by color.  
Champion Non Pro Custom by Laurel Haig
photo by Alison Pareis
We also had a Custom Collectibility division, where models were grouped by age. 
Vintage custom created by Lesli Kathman in 1996
photo by Alison Pareis
Most people were really happy with the classlist. It’s not something you see a lot, but it worked well. I hope someone else will look at this idea and make it work for their shows in the future.  Here are a few more pictures from the show.
1990's Customs
photo by Alison Pareis
Non-pro custom callbacks
photo by Alison Pareis
Overall Champion Breyer
photo by Alison Pareis
For the last several years, I've been making a list of fun and unique show ideas. Some of these are borrowed from other shows. Others are brand new. Since I won't be able to use them all myself, I'm sharing them here in hopes of inspiring someone else.
  • Color specific shows. For example, Spots and Dots for appies and pintos or Plain Janes for solid colors only. 
  • Breed specific shows. These would cater to a groups of breeds, like stock breeds, draft and pony breeds or even mixed breeds and grade horses. These shows are a lot of fun and give you the opportunity to have a full show and still make it home by early afternoon. You could also have a performance division with only the themed breeds allowed. I feel like this would be great for drafts, ponies, and Spanish horses, all of which can be overlooked when competing against more versatile breeds like Arabians and Quarter Horses.
  • Gender (stallions, mares, gelding) or age (foals!) specific shows. Foal shows should be a much more common thing and can include a full set of in hand performance classes. 
  • Sculptor specific shows. Entries restricted to models by a single, prolific artist, such as Chris Hess or Maureen Love. This is a great way to hold a quick and simple vintage show. 
  • Maiden shows. Entry restricted to horses that have never been shown. We all tend to show the same horses over and over. Sometimes it's fun to shake up the show string and bring out those horses who never leave the house. Similarly, a WEIOTT show for non-Breyer, non-Stone and non-CopperFox plastics would be amazing.
  • Custom Collectibility shows. Some custom models are desirable for their history rather than their current showability.  As far as I know, I am the only person who has held a custom collectibility division, but it was popular and fun. Classes were divided by decade of creation, and documentation was provided as you would see in OF collectibility. Normal wear and tear was not held against models, and it was great to see so many old and not really showable models in the ring. This was also the division for aftermarket flockies and Eustis pieces, which usually fall into resins, but aren’t generally competitive there.
  • Tack Workmanship. So much time and talent goes into our hobby's tack and props. I think it would be fun to show them without elaborate scenes or all the other usual performance considerations. 
  • Performance Challenges. These may be a thing of the past, but in the early 2000's quite a few shows had a division where everyone showed the same OF model that may or may not have been announced until the morning of the show. This led to a lot of ingenuity and playing on the fly, which makes for a fun and sometimes comical experience. Another thing I’ve seen was to have everyone do a performance class or setup using the same random prop (like a glasses elastic or a bendy straw). (Note from Jennifer: I plan to incorporate both these ideas into the Jennifer Show 2019 classlist.)
  • Playdate Show. Something that can be great for people wanting to feel more inside a show, is a playdate show, where everyone judges every class. Entrants don’t place their own models, and the placings and reasons may or may not be discussed afterwards, depending on the showholder's preference.  
Thank you again, Sarah, and will someone in Colorado please hold a foal show with performance classes. Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease!


  1. In Region 2, we have done most of these shows. They are a great way to get out different models and host fundraisers for large shows.

    Robin Kent

  2. Breed specific shows were a big thing here in the UK in the 1980s, when there were only 3 live shows a year - 2 of them were for Arabs and their crosses only. So it was a big thing to widen the scope out in the 1990s - but by then, there were a wider variety not just of makes but breeds around.

    We also effectively have a 'single sculptor division' as many shows have a specific division for Animal Artistry :)