This information will be helpful for ANY live show, not just BreyerWest. If you’re new to live showing and want to learn how to get ready, you’re in the right place!
Planning Your Show String
Did you read the post What Is BreyerWest? You might want to start there!
How do you decide which horses to bring?
First off, print out the rules for the show you’re entering. Some shows are brand specific, some are not. BreyerWest is for BREYER horses only. That means only Breyer brand models are allowed in both OF (Original Finish) and Custom. Many shows have classes for all brands or they might have divisions for different brands, like OF Breyer and OF Stone.
What Do I Look For In A Show Horse?
First, look at condition. If you’ve been galloping your horse through the mud, FUN! But, it might have some missing paint, and possibly a broken leg or ear tip. Pick horses for your Show String that don’t have rubs, scratches, or breaks. No model is flawless, just like no real horse is flawless, but you want to put your best horse forward.
Next, and this is the most important thing, look at the ABC’s of your model. This is what helps your horse meet the criteria of “Realism”. ABC stands for Anatomy, Biomechanics, and Color accuracy. There are entire articles written on this topic, but basically, does the model have all the qualities of a real live horse to the point that it could live. This is not about conformation; this is about could the muscle structure keep the skeleton standing up, are the muscles and bones lined up correctly, etc. It’s not about beauty, it’s about realism. Color accuracy is just what it sounds like; is the horse painted in a color that can really happen in nature, in the way shown, on the age and breed of horse depicted? So, pick your most ‘real’ horses to show.
Models Are Chosen, Now What?
Lastly, you need to assign a breed to each model. Breyer assigns breeds to some models, but not all, and you shouldn’t just go with what Breyer picks. Do research, and then pick your own breed. You might agree with Breyer, but you might not. Google different breeds, read their official breed standards, examine photos, look for qualities of your model in the material and find a breed choice you can defend. Double check the breed you chose comes in the color on your model. If the color is a rare one for the breed, find an accurate photo of the breed in that color and print it out as documentation. Site your source for the photo.
It is important to make sure you find your photo from a reliable source. When in doubt, ask in a Facebook group or ask the show holder to make sure you’re getting good information. Learning to assign a breed is fun, work, and takes practice. You will learn a LOT about horses. I have learned more about the different horse breeds from showing model horses than I ever did actually owning live horses.
Prepping For Show Day
NOTE: Different regions use a couple of different methods for labeling horses at live shows. Some regions use the Card System, where you write your horse’s information on an index card that you set by your model on the table at the show for the judge to pick up if they place your horse. My region uses the Tag System, which is what I will be explaining here.
The Tag System
I live in Region One (Learn more about that here) and we use the Tag System. That means I write each horse’s information on a little tag on a string and then attach the string to the horse’s foot. They wear their tags all the time, I store them with them on at home. My shower number goes at the top, the breed in the middle, bottom left is the gender, and bottom right is the finish. The horse’s name goes on the other side of the tag. Here is an example of how I write my tags:
The second part of the Tag System is that each shower makes a list of the horses they show for the day and give that to the show holder at the end. I keep a list on my computer that I delete and add to as needed as my show string changes. You don’t have to do that; you can write a hand-written list to turn in if that suits your style better. For BreyerWest, we have to turn in lists ahead of time for the show holder to be very organized at this fast paced show. They even provide us with a template to use: BreyerWest Horse List Template
That little number on the tag indicates who owns the horse and which horse on the list it is. My shower number is #770 and I have a horse who’s identification number is 003. When you look at my list of horses, you can look up 003 and see that horse is Miss Brut Gold and she is a TWH Mare in OF. That shows up as #770-003 on her tag. (If you live or show in Region 1, get your Tag Saver number here: Region 1 Tag Saver Program)
When the judge places the classes, they just write down the number on the tag. The show holder takes all the entrant’s horse lists after the show and writes up results putting names with the numbers the judge wrote down. This way, the judge doesn’t see the horse’s names and doesn’t have to write down long names, just a handy number. After the show holder is done with the results, they email them to the entrants to double check for accuracy and then, if the show has NAMHSA approval, they send them in for the records. BreyerWest is NOT a NAMHSA approved show and the host won’t need to send the results in, but they will be sent to all the entrants. Learn about NAMHSA here.
When I get ready for a show, I print out the class list and go through my horses to decide which horses are going in each class. Most shows have a limit of how many horses can enter each class. Often it is 4 horses per class, so you can take four QH, four TB’s, etc. At BreyerWest, the class limit is 2. Most shows do not have a limit on how many total horses you can bring, but BreyerWest allows only 50 total. This is because of limited space and time. It makes it easier to pack for because only the best get to go!
Storing For Travel
Once I have written down who is going in which class and everyone is tagged, I store the horses in their traveling pouches and pack them in plastic storage totes. Stablemates (the smaller horses) go in smaller boxes and Traditionals go in the large totes. Make sure they are set in gently and not packed hard against each other or they can break and get ruined.
I made my horse pouches out of polar fleece with a basic sewing machine. Some people make lovely fancy pouches and you can often find them for sale at shows and on Ebay. Breyer has also started selling pouches in a couple of sizes and they are a little on the thin size, but overall very nice.
What Else Do I Need?
Once you have you horse list written, your notes written to tell you which horse goes in which class, and your horses all packed safely and ready to go, you need to grab a few more things.
You will want something to hold up your Traditional horses so they don’t domino off the table! I bought these at a model horse show from another shower; they are made to hold up dishes. They work great, but can be hard to find.
Stablemates can easily be laid down on your table as they’re so small, but I like to bring…too many, so I wanted something to stand them up too. A shower recently invented these:
I am sold! I had mine custom made in pink and I’ll be showing with them for the first time at BreyerWest 2019. They come in Traditional and stablemate size. You can buy your own here: Horse Racks
You will want to bring lots of extra leg tags. Seriously, either you will need them or someone else will. I have gone through about 1500 tags and I have like 200 horses. They eat them, I swear! They are found at office supply stores and Walmart. You want the 1 3/4″ x 1 3/32″ size. Do not get neon colored ones; they are pretty, but then everyone knows which horses are yours. Same goes for writing on the tags with colored pens. You want your horse to be as anonymous as possible at judging time.
Bring a little note pad. You might need to write a quick reference for a horse you’re showing, an email address from a new friend, contact info from someone you want to buy something from, etc.
Bring pens. Plural. I am always turning around and losing them throughout the day. Bring 5.
You will definitely need a dust brush and might want a little dust rag too. When you take your horse up to the table, you want that horse as beautiful as possible. Remove any dust and finger prints. Make up brushes work great! You can snag them at the dollar store, though the fancy ones are more fun!
A clipboard can be very helpful! I always bring so many horses I don’t have table left to write on, so a clipboard for my lap is a must! I bring a print out of the NAN Breed list (which is not a requirement for any shows other than NAN, but is a great quick guide) and the class list for the show with my horses written by their classes.
Don’t forget your references for your models! If you are showing collectibility class, you need a documentation card for that. Mine look like this:
For a color or breed reference, you need photos that show your model looks like the breed. If appropriate you can explain in a few words what makes the breed special or different from similar breeds. Often, I just do pictures and the breed name. Here is an example of both from my references:
I keep my cards in a recipe box:
Lastly, bring your camera/phone! Take pictures of your friends! You will regret it later if you don’t. Take pictures of your horses, but TAKE PHOTOS OF THE PEOPLE! You can’t take too many pictures. Take ALL THE PICTURES.
What else do you pack when you show? Let me know in the comments!
If you don’t know what BreyerWest is, you might want to pop back to the first part in the series.