Friday, April 26, 2013


My Breyer Barn

Homemade barn
Model horse barns are great for play or storage but some barns that can be purchased from Breyer are very expensive. I own one homemade barn, a handmade barn from a craft show, and a very unique barn that is made from storage cubes. There can be simple barns made from things like cardboard boxes, clementine boxes, shoe boxes, and popsicle sticks. There are many tutorials on how to make barns and single stalls for your models.

To make a clementine box stall you will just need the box and a small piece of felt or fleece to cover any holes in the bottom of the box. Covering these holes will make sure that the horse's legs don't get caught and broken. Cut the felt or fleece to fit the floor and then glue it down.

To make a shoebox stall, just remove the lid  if it is attached to the box. Then you can either cut one side out to make a door or you can leave it on. To make a Popsicle stick stall, just glue the popsicle sticks together until you have four walls. Then glue the walls together, making sure to  brace the walls at the top and the bottom. You can also have one in the middle.

Storage cubical barn
Making a storage cube barn is very simple. I have made a stable out of a ClosetMaid Cubicle. Laying on their side, they make four stalls. You can leave the front open or you could make a door or a gate. I have a few cups taped onto the sides and poles across the stable doors. I have two horses stored in each cube. You can use the top row of cubes for storage.

Sometimes, handmade model horse barns are available at local craft shows. I own a beautiful two stall barn that is realistic down to the vents on the sides of the barn. It has a loft, sliding doors on both sides, a paddock that pulls out, a roof, and open space over both stalls. Play is simple, and the stalls are large enough that you could keep two horses in each stall. The entire barn cost $75 and is very sturdy.

The back of my Breyer Barn
I am sure that there are crafters in your area that make barns for horses. Or you could always try making one of your own. An alternative is to buy a barn from Breyer, Amazon, or Ebay. Below are links to a few Breyer barns.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Make a Bareback Pad

Materials needed:

A saddle that will fit your horse or a pattern.
Leather lace
Marker or pen
Needlenose pliers
A model horse.

Step 1:

Take your saddle or pattern and trace the shape onto your leather. Cut it out.

Step 2:

Set the saddle shape on your horse's back and measure some leather lace around the horse's stomach to the sides of the saddle shape. Make sure is has some slack in it. Cut it to size and then fold it in half before cutting slightly to one side. One length should be longer than the other.

Step 3:

Take your wire and put it through the middle of the needle nose pliers,leaving a small tail. Wrap it around to make a buckle. Cut the buckle off the wire and attach it to the shorter piece of leather lace with glue.

Step 4:

Attach both pieces of leather lace to the sides of the saddle shape. Buckle it on your model and make sure it fits. Have fun!

If you enjoyed making this you might enjoy my tutorial on How to Make a English Bridle.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

English Bridle Tutorial

Materials I use to make a bridle
This is a simple step by step model horse English bridle tutorial. If this is your first time making a bridle I would suggest to stick to every step in the directions. Otherwise you can change things that you would like to be different. If you have any questions, just ask.

Materials that will be needed:
1/8th inch leather lace or narrow ribbon.
Craft glue or a hot glue gun.
Model horse
Measuring the Headstall
Clamps if you are not using hot glue.

Step 1: The Headstall
Take you model horse and your materials that you will be using to make your bridle
(leather lacing or ribbon.) and measure from one side of the horse's mouth to the other side of the horse's mouth. Cut the material where as needed.

Step 2: The Nose Band.
Take your horse again and measure your leather or ribbon around the horse's nose. This should be a little loose on your horse's nose otherwise it may break when you are tacking and untacking him or her. Cut the material and then glue the beginning of the material to the end of it.

Step 3: Attaching The Headstall to the Nose Band.
Take your headstall and your nose band which now should be close to dry. Take one end of your headstall and glue it to the side of your nose band. Take the other end of your headstall and glue it to the other side of your nose band.
Finished Headstall

Step 4: Making your Brow Band.
For this step your nose band and headstall arrangement needs to be dry. Otherwise, you may get glue on you model. Fit your headstall and nose band on your model and take your leather or ribbon and measure for a brow band. The brow band should rest between the ears and the eyes of your model horse. Cut the material as needed. Take the partly finished bridle off your horse and glue your brow band onto the head stall.

You can mark where the brow band should go but I prefer to just eyeball it.

Step 5: Making your Reins.
For this step your bridle needs to be dry. Take your partly finished bridle and put it on your model. Take your material that you are using and measure your reins. The reins for this bridle should be able to go over the horse's mane and they should rest far enough away from your model's neck that your rider could grab them.

Step 6: Making sure Everything Fits.
For this step the bridle has to be dry. Take your bridle and put it on your horse. Check to make sure nothing is too small. If something is too big or small. can fix it or use it on another horse. Have fun with your new bridle!
My model with her new bridle.

Trouble shooting
Glue won't stick to your material
If you are using ribbon sometimes glue doesn't like to stick. For ribbon, I would recommend using hot glue.

Glue gets on your model
Please do not try the bridle on your model before the glue is dry or this may result in glue rubbing off on your horse. I can not be held responsible for this. Some warm water and soap might get it off if you rub it gently.

Bridle keeps falling off your horse
Something on your bridle needs to be smaller. For example, if the the nose band keeps falling off your model, make a smaller nose band for your bridle if you wish to continue using it for that horse.

Here are some bridle kits that I have made. They are very realistic and fun to construct. If you would rather  buy a premade Breyer bridle there are some links below.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

How to Protect Your Model Horse

Sometimes models can be damaged accidentally. Here are some ways to keep your model safe from scuffs, chips, and breaks.

For shelf storage:

My Model Cobalt Wearing a Handmade Blanket
Putting a blanket on your horse can protect your horse if it falls or tips over on your shelf. Otherwise, your horse may be permanently damaged from falling. Leg wraps can also be helpful.

Another way of keeping your model(s) safe is to put fleece or felt on your shelf to cover the surface so that a falling or tipping model would not be damaged from the fall. Blankets can be easily made or if you do not feel comfortable making the blanket, you can purchase them from the company that makes your model. Peter Stone does not sell a blanket for their model horses. When purchasing a blanket for a Breyer, always make sure it is the correct size for the horse you are buying for. An alternative method of buying blankets is to purchase them from Ebay. Make sure it is the right size by asking the seller. Leg wraps are very inexpensive to buy and also easy to make.

For storage in a model horse barn:

The Hay Mixture I Use in My Barns
Model horse barns are very fun for playing and also make for a very realistic barn scene for photo shows. Horses can still be damaged when stored in a barn. Yet again, blankets and leg wraps are a good idea for your horse. Another way to protect your models is to lay felt or fleece in the bottom that is yellowish colored to mimic yellow straw or hay.

The way that I protect my model horses who are stabled in my wooden barn is by using my own realistic hay mixture.  I shred yellow paper into pieces and cut up yellow yarn before mixing them together and spreading it in the barn. After using this hay mixture for awhile, you will need to add more because it will get packed down easily.

For play:

Scuffs on a Model that has Been Played with Heavily
Model horses are extremely fun to play with, mostly for kids that dream of their own horse but are not fortunate enough to own one. Models can be easily damaged with play. Try to avoid extreme play with model horses because they can get hurt easily.

When your horse is 'walking' through an enclosed space always, make sure there is room for the horse otherwise it could result in scuffing. Make sure when your horse goes into a barn that the stall doors are high enough that the horse's ears won't get scratched or chipped.

When playing with your horses, try not to bump them together. For example, if a horse is rearing and should kick a horse next to it, don't slam the horses together or it would result in a scuff.  Instead, just gently tap them or even  pretend the horse was kicked. Whenever it would fit in a game, your horse should wear a blanket to cover it's body and protect itself.

I know some people like to collect horses and store them on shelves to keep them from being damaged, but I believe that model horses should be played with. Below are some links to Breyer items to help protect your horses from damage during play.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ruffian, Queen of the Track

Ruffian Breyer Model

Ruffian was a seal brown, almost black filly born on April 17, 1972. Her sire was Reviewer, her dam was Shenanigans, and her grandsire was Native Dancer. Ruffian was born on Clairborne Farm in Kentucky.  She was bred by Stuart S. Janny and Barbara Phipps Janny.

When she was two years old, she started training with Frank Y. Whitly, Jr. She won the 1974 Outstanding Two Year Old Filly Eclipse Award. In the same year, she also won the Filly Triple Crown.

She won the Spinaway Stakes in track record time. After the race, it was discovered that she had a hairline fracture in her right hind leg. She was undefeated in 10 races. Her 11th race was scheduled against Foolish Pleasure as a match race. Foolish Pleasure was that year's Kentucky Derby winner. It was considered not just a match against two great horses but a battle of the sexes.

There were over 50,000 spectators and another estimated 20 million people watching what was referred to as "The Great Match." As Ruffian left the starting gate, she hit her shoulder coming out of the gate, taking the lead by little more than a nose.

The first quarter mile was run in 22 and 1/5 seconds. A little more than one furlong later, Ruffian was leading Foolish Pleasure by around half a length when both sesamoid bones in her right foreleg broke. Her jockey, Jacinto Vasquez tried to stop her from going any further, but Ruffian kept running.

When jockey was finally able to pull her up, her hoof was hanging on by little more than a shred of skin. She was taken from the track and underwent three hours of emergency surgery on her leg. When she awoke from anesthesia she lashed around wildly in the recovery stall. She undid all of the surgical repairs that had been done to her leg and also shattered her elbow on the same leg.
Ruffian Model Horse

It was decided that she probably would not survive more extensive surgery, and was put down shortly after. Ruffian's death made people demand more humane treatment of racehorses. After that, the recovery pool was invented so that when horses woke from surgery, they were immersed in warm water and could not thrash around and injure themselves.

Ruffian's bloodlines may have contributed to her injury. Her father broke down three times in his racing career and broke down a fourth time in his paddock, which led to him being put down. Native Dancer was considered to be the start of "soft bond genetics." This is the belief that a tendency to have bones that are more susceptible to injury can be passed down from previous generations.

Ruffian is buried near a flagpole at Belmont track in the infield with her nose pointing towards the finish line. Secretariat's trainer, Lucian Lauren said that she might even have been better than Secretariat. Ruffian died on July 7, 1975. She only lived to be three years old.  After her death, she was ranked among the top 100 racehorses of the 20th century by BloodHorse Magazine. 

If you are interested in learning more about Ruffian, I would highly recommend the article Ruffian Remembered. It is my favorite article about Ruffian.