Friday, January 21, 2022

How I turned Breyers into a real horse

Not all model horse hobbyists want to own a real horse, but a lot of us do. Here's a really wonderful story of how one collector turned her pandemic model horse winnings into a pandemic pony. Congratulations, Shana and Amira!

How I Turned Breyers into a Real Horse (Thanks Covid)

by Shana Bobbitt
I have a 25-year-old Arabian gelding named Sinwaan, who I did five years of limited distance endurance on when my kids were very young. We had an old camp trailer that we would take to the rides to contain the kids, and my mom would often come along to help baby-sit. Sinwaan started dragging a hind toe on our training rides and wore down his shoe flat across the top. No amount of diagnostics from an equine sports vet could provide any answers, so quite unexpectedly I found myself without a horse to ride. Because I had a limited budget and did not think he would land softly in a non-use home, I hung onto him and had to come to terms with the fact that I was now a retired horse owner instead of an endurance rider. It was a very difficult adjustment for me, but the next decade found me more immersed in model horses (and parenting!) to help fill the void.

I have attended BreyerFest twice in my life, once as a kid and once as an adult. It was overwhelming, wonderful... a true experience. Enter Covid in 2020. The Breyer team offered a virtual substitution. I was very excited when I learned that I could now enter the contests from my home state of Washington! The 2020 theme was Celtic Fling, and I thought really hard about how to best present a diorama that would evoke emotion. I decided on the story of Boudicca and her chariot, and it really became a family affair as we brainstormed how to include an added element of fire in the final photos. I yelped as they called my name on the webcast and welled up with tears. It was really special to win the “Feis” model. I had ZERO plans to ever sell him since I cherished the whole process of creating that diorama and what he represented. It was the first and only prize model I had ever owned to that point.
2021 came and we still have covid. Breyer offered another virtual BreyerFest, only this time the participants are restricted by state/country due to gambling laws. Crazy! I was relieved that my state was not on the blacklist. The theme was Horse of a Different Color, and the guidelines for the diorama contest had us reimagining an existing piece of art. This time I decided on Little Bit scale and reworked it into the Remington Mountain Main. I was pleased with the outcome, but was less convinced that I had a shot at winning. Thankfully, I did make it as a finalist and won the lovely “Stubbs.”
For the past couple of years my daughter has been riding my friend Bethany's horse, Shimmer, and pony, Mazi. She's doing really well, and I am so proud of her ability to listen to directions and apply them to her riding. I enjoyed being a “barn mom” and sharing my passions with her,  but what I really wanted was to be was more involved and riding with her! What to do? There is a very green horse at the same barn. I started doing some training rides, and while that was fun and exciting, it still wasn’t my own horse.
At the end of autumn, I asked my neighbors if they would lease out their pasture. I have been so incredibly blessed to have wonderful folks looking after Sinwaan for me, but they are getting older and didn’t want to take on any new horses. After I a job change, I started thinking it would really be nice to have my own horse to ride again. After a couple months of discussion and negotiating, my neighbors agreed. Now that I had a pasture nearby, I could start looking for a new horse!

I decided at that point to sell my Stubbs model to start a 'real horse' fund. That gave me a nice start, and with that, I started casually looking at Dreamhorse to get an idea of what was available. I came across an intriguing ad with no photo. I emailed the seller and the photos she sent me made my heart sing. If I could custom-order a horse, this one checked all the boxes.  Bay, Arabian, Bask-bred and beautiful. 
Me and my brother on the most amazing horse from my childhood, to which all other horses are measured, Dear Natasha.
I arranged to see her in person. On the drive up there, I thought I would throw up; I was so overwhelmed. I had never shopped for a horse of my own before! Sinwaan was given to me by my aunt. He made the long trek from Virginia to Washington when my son was just a baby, so I took him on pretty much sight unseen. This was a whole new experience for me. I was reading articles on “how to shop for a horse,” and I was so worried I would get swindled. How do I know if I can trust the people selling this horse?

It turns out, I did not need to be so worried or suspicious. The seller and her friend were very nice down-to-earth and upfront people. It was as important to them that this horse go to the right buyer as it was ito me that I make the right decision. The friend rode her first to show her skill set. Then I rode her, and I was just over the moon. I had my husband shoot videos, and I watched them over and over all weekend, asking my friends for feedback. One thing I insisted on was a pre-purchase exam. The vets were all scheduled out a couple weeks so this worked in my favor. Now that I had found a horse that I couldn’t live without, how do I pay for her? I didn’t have quite enough in the fund.

I decided that when it came right down to it, a real horse was more important to me than a model. So I put Feis up for sale. It was a bittersweet moment when I packed him up for shipment.

I first looked at my new horse "Angel" around Halloween, and brought her home on December 9. It was a VERY long trip to get her. Our mountain pass had a lot of snow and ice, and we took a different way going home that added a lot of time to our journey. But it was all worth it! I have renamed my new horse "Amira." She has settled in well and has proven to be a nice steady mount for both myself and my daughter.  One of my friends commented "How incredible is it that you buy the very first horse you look at?" Yes, it is really amazing that it worked out so well. 
My long term goal is to once again participate in endurance. I have reconnected with a good friend that I conditioned with ten years ago. It feels like we are coming full circle. We both took time off for kids, had things that prevented us from being as involved as horses as we would liked and now we are back to riding. Amazingly enough, we both have mares the same age and color that are pretty similar in how far along they are in their training.

I would not have this horse without Breyer offering a virtual way to enter their contests and for providing such lovely prize models!  THANK YOU BREYER!!!

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