I am why I can’t have nice things…

In December I lucked upon an ad on MH$P for a Mini Cromwell resin at a very affordable price. I’d had my eye on this resin so I jumped on the opportunity and grabbed him.

cromwell before

I really like this resin as is, but I want him to be a performance horse (I just love drafters under saddle!) and his face is a bit narrow for his breed. So only a few weeks after this guy came to his new home, he found himself going under the knife…

cromwell after 1

It’s funny to start cutting on something so nice and new, but I have a vision. I promise I’ll put him back together!

cromwell after 2

Judge Others

One of the cool new things I did this year was to start judging at live shows. I’d previously dabbled in judging for an online photo shows series, but I hadn’t yet jumped into judging at live show. I’ve now judged at four shows and am scheduled to judge for at least three shows in 2015.

If you are a live shower, I highly recommend that you get involved with judging. There are many great reasons to judge, for all different kinds of hobbyists. And the hobby needs more judges. It is a common lament of show holders that good judges are hard to find. And often the same judges are available for a region’s shows, which gives showers less variety of opinions and placings.

judging - HHL2012- Barb judging CM Mini Ponies

Why should you judge? To help the hobby. To learn more about breeds and anatomy. To save money on showing. To oogle beautiful models. To be inspired. To have fun!

To learn. I’ve learned a lot about breeds, horses genetics, and anatomy as a customizer and shower. But judging pushed me to even further learning- I have a better working knowledge of breeds and breed types, and I’ve become a better judge of conformation and biomechanics. This in turn is helpful for me as a shower and customizer, as I am better at breed assignment and making a customized horse anatomically accurate.

judging - nwe 2014

To save money. Are live show entry fees a turnoff for you? Learn to judge! Generally judges are granted free entry to the show in the divisions they are not judging. Some shows will also provide lunch and even travel stipends for judged. Save on your entry fee, and you’ve got more cash for shopping and raffles at the show!

judging - nwe 2012 cm-ar mini pony class

To oogle. There are so many beautiful model horses out there, and now you have an excuse to stare at them! It’s a real treat to see so many gorgeous pieces in one place. As a judge, you have the time and the mandate to examine them from every angle! There are some mold sand resins that didn’t tempt me… until I saw them in person! Beware: judging may effect the size of your want list :)

judging - rcl 2013 2

To be inspired. As a customizer, it’s important to see what else is out there. You can learn a lot from looking at other people’s work. I always find judging and showing to be inspiration- I got home renewed with ideas for new techniques to try, and new levels of detail to aspire towards.

judging - NWC 2013

To have fun! I was a little nervous when I judged the first time, but it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed examining and placing the models. You also get to meet and talk to a lot of people this way, since folks always have questions for the judge. Judging is a great way to really partake in the full show atmosphere.

judging - rcl 2013

Excited yet? If you’re interested in judging, there are several good ways to get started and gain both confidence and reputation. First off, you can start judging photo shows. The online shows like MHOSS and TOPSA are always seeking judges. This is a great, low-key way to try it out in the comfort of your own home.

You can also look for youth divisions at local shows. Youth divisions tend to be smaller, with fewer entries and shorter class lists. They also have a pretty wide variety of quality in terms of entries, which can make it easier to judge. These divisions are extra fun too, since you get to talk to the kids and see their beloved ponies.

judging - SOL 2014

One of my favorite entries in the “Painted by Owner” class in the Sweet Onion Live Youth Division

Another good stepping stone is to judge at a home show. Home shows are smaller and generally more relaxed. It’s a great way for a novice judge to graduate from Youth Division to Open competition. In my experience, people are really excited to have a new judge, and are very welcoming to someone who wants to learn and practice.

I am really glad that I took the plunge to start judging. I’ve learned so much and it has really helped me to improve my own work and entries. I love to talk to other hobbyists, and I love giving back to the hobby! Need a new year’s resolution? Let 2015 be the year where you go forth and give judging a try!

Timely Tack Tutorials

So I’ve had blogging on my to-do list all week and failed to check it off… I shall strive for betterment in that department. Meanwhile, other bloggers are sharing brilliant tips that I am carefully cataloging for future use.

I have been keeping my tutorials page more or less up to date, and trying to organize and list all of the best model horse tutorials out there. Two of my most recent additions are particularly awesome and deserve special notice.

The first is a DIY English stirrup tutorial from Ebb&Flow Studio. This tutorial is both simple and brilliant. The finished products look realistic and lovely, and are made out of simple materials that most hobbyists probably already have on hand.

I both rejoiced and cursed inwardly when I first read this tutorial- it was only a week or so earlier that I finally caved and bought cast stirrups! I am going to NAN this coming year (more on that in future posts!) and I need a new English set for Nightfox. I’ve been making my own stirrups, but I decided to pull out all the stops for my NAN debut. (After re-reading Dreamflite Design’s stirrups review, I went with the Horsing Around ones). But I definitely plan to use the Ebb&Flow tutorial for future projects!

Nightfox in English at NW Congress. Lots of things to improve before NAN!

Nightfox in English at NW Congress. Lots of things to improve before NAN!

The second tutorial that rocked my world this week is from Grace Ledoux (Stage Left Studios) by way of Anna Kirby of Dreamflite Design. Back in 2012, Anna wrote a lovely little tutorial about cutting lace for mini tack. She showed how she used double sided tape and a metal ruler to get very thin, very straight lace pieces. At the time, I was not making much tack and was not that motivated towards this kind of perfection. My loss!

I’ve struggled in past tack projects with getting nice pieces of lace, especially getting consistent widths of narrow lace appropriate for mini tack. When I saw Grace’s lovely thin straps at Sweet Onion, I was re-inspired and she said that Anna’s method was the secret to her lace. Then, last week, she posted a video tutorial showing the method.

I am so looking forward to using this method for my next tack project! Teeny beautiful straps will be mine!

Lovely wee straps on a Stage Left Studios bridle

Lovely wee straps on a Stage Left Studios bridle

 

Holiday Saddle Raffle

At Sweet Onion Live earlier this year I got to admire some amazing mini scale tack by Grace Ledoux of Stage Left Studios.

SOL GL - dressage

I was amazed by her attention to detail and how itty bitty she was able to make her strap goods.

SOL GL - english games

I really wish I’d had more time to stare and take pictures (these are all her pictures, not mine!) but I was a bit crazy showing in halter and performance while judging the Youth division. I won’t be doing that again, trust me!

Since meeting Grace, I’ve been following her blog with enthusiasm. And I was very excited on Friday when she announced that she has teamed up with her friend and fellow tack maker, Anne Yager, to do a holiday saddle raffle!

SOL GL - harness

Even better, all the money raised in this raffle will be going to charity. It’s a win-win! The greedy part of me wants to keep this hush hush so I have a better change of winning on of the awesome saddles (I keep waffling on which I want more!)

Luckily, that part of me is overcome by my love of all things tiny as well as charitable giving. So I want to share this with as many folks as possible! Anna and Grace set a goal of raising $50, which they have already surpassed. How cool would it be if they could raise $100?

You can read all the details on the raffle in Grace’s blog post. That post and several others on her blog and on Anna’s blog show many more photos of the two saddles up for grabs. Go buy some tickets!

SOL GL - horse bot

This photo doesn’t showcase Grace’s tack so much, but it sure showcases her creativity! Isn’t this just the coolest Other Perf entry you’ve ever seen? She had documentation for the Horsebot and everything.

 

Thirteen Years

I have many many things to be thankful for, but today I’m singling out a particular part of my life that I am so, so thanksful, and lucky, to have- my horse, Cochise.

Cochise was a thirteenth birthday gift from my parents. Well, we didn’t officially buy him until a few months later, but around my birthday was when I started leasing him as a trial. As of this November, Cochise has been with me for half my life.

Jumping, circa 2003

Jumping, circa 2003

Cochise was still fairly green when I got him. Looking back, I can’t believe my trainer allowed us to buy him, with his level of training and me being advanced novice. I’d been riding for almost four years, but I’d never done any real training. The second and third days I rode Cochise were the first and second times I ever fell off too.

Summer 2004

Circa 2004

I was very lucky to happen into a Natural Horsemanship trainer who helped me learn how to work with Cochise is a more constructive manner. He was an anxious, uncoordinated, and grumpy horse. But he was also sweet, smooth, and trainable.

Jumping bareback in a rope halter, winter 2004

Jumping bareback in a rope halter, circa 2004

Cochise was and is a very quirky, opinionated horse, but we learned together and formed a great partnership. Throughout high school, I rode almost every day. I met my best friend Robyn through Cochise- she leased him before she bought her first horse. Once she had her own horse, we often rode together.

Playing "broom polo" in 2006

Playing “broom polo” in 2006

One of the things I am most thankful for is that I never had to choose between attending my first-choice college and keeping my horse. I would have been heartbroken to sell Cochise- I don’t think I ever could have done it. Luckily, Robyn was starting her lesson teaching business just as I was leaving for college. Cochise, having come leaps and bounds since when I first got him, became a lesson horse.

Cochise - 2008:8

In his new vocation as a lesson horse

Cochise is a great lesson horse. He will baby the littlest riders and challenge the more advanced riders. He’s safe and fun but makes a rider work- and learn. And best of all- he loves it. He gets to stay at home with his herd and be doted on by hordes of children. It’s the perfect job for a horse who is fantastic and versatile, and thrives on a routine.

Out with his herd, summer 2008

Out with his herd, summer 2008

Ever time I came home from college I would get to visit Cochise, and he was always happy to see me.

Cochise - 2008:8 2

Cochise meets my future husband, summer of 2008

After I graduated college, I continued to visit Cochise whenever I could.

On a trail ride, summer of 2011

On a trail ride, summer of 2011

And he continued to teach children.

Cochise at summer camp, 2012

Cochise at summer camp, 2012

Whenever I visited we would pick up where we’d left off.

Jumping bridleless, 2012

Jumping bridleless, 2012

For a year Robyn and I took jumping lessons together. I would drive down once a week and we would load the horses up for the short trip down the road to our trainer’s barn.

Ready to roll, 2013

Ready to roll, 2013

Unfortunately, driving an hour and a half each way to ride was not a sustainable plan. Plus, much as I loved Cochise, our goals were diverging- he was getting older, with a bit more arthritis, and still stressed a lot over going to new places. Meanwhile I was dreaming of more jumping, and eventually eventing.

So I decided to start riding nearer to home, and Cochise stayed at his perfect home, teaching lessons and continuing to lord over a growing herd.

Winter 2013

Winter 2013

I am so thankful that my horse-my best friend-has such a wonderful place to be and thrive. Robyn has given Cochise the best of care and the finest life a horse could want- lots of time outside being a horse, a job to do, and plenty of doting attention. I miss him, but it’s wonderful to know that I can visit anytime I want, and that Cochise is happy, healthy, and has a forever home.

Cochise - 2014:4

April 2014

 

Yesterday

Yesterday

Post Moving Ponies

I packed up my horses and hobby stuff around the end of January in preparation for our February move. After we moved, I was busy for a while unpacking, shopping for furniture, and a hundred other little post-moving tasks. But then… I started to get the itch to work on horses. I really missed it.

At that point our only available work surface was the kitchen island, which was also where we prepped and ate meals and a catch-all for household detritus. But I managed to make it work. With most of my supplies still in boxes it was possible to get out the necessary items for a work session and then re-store them away during meals.

kitchen island studio

The kitchen island studio

Last fall I got two new resins that I was very excited to paint- Wee Wyakin, as a trade-commission deal, and Covenant Renewed, as a birthday gift from my parents. I’d bee working on prepping them before we packed up, and I was excited to get them out again.

It was wonderful to be painting again. My Wee Wyakin was destined for a complicated semi-leopard pattern, which is lots of fun to paint. And Covenant Renewed, the Morgan stallion of my dreams, was slated for a deep luscious bay.

Wee Wyakin (or Pollyanna Plaudit, as she is named) was done in a combination of acrylics, pastel, and pencil, with many, many layers of work.

Pollyanna wip 1

Starting the first layer of hairing and leopard spots

Pollyanna wip 2

Staying safe in the tea cupboard

Pollyanna wip 3

Roaning continues…

Pollyanna wip 5

Starting to look like the references, but far from done.

I had a show coming up in April, and at the last minute (at least, by customizing standards) I decided I could get my Morgan, Salty Captain, done too. I have less photos of his process but he went from funky…

Funky Captain

…to hunky in a matter of weeks.

Beautiful in Bay

Just in time to win his class at NW Expo too!

NW Expo 2014

I’m so happy to have added these two lovelies to my growing resin collection!

Begin Again

I put this blog on official hiatus last January when I realized that work, moving, and starting at a new barn were keeping me too busy. My models and supplies were put away in preparation for our move, and I spent my weekends at the barn teaching lessons or at home packing boxes.

moving boxes

Helper cat is helpful

We moved into our new home in February. Painting, cleaning, unpacking, and organizing kept us busy. In April my dream came true and we had a studio built into a nook. I eagerly documented the process so I’d be able to share it here.

finished studio

My new studio

At the end of April, I got sick, and I didn’t get better. Once again I found myself turning to models as a mental escape from frustrating exhaustion and depression. I couldn’t ride, but at least I had performance showing goals to work towards in the few hours a day I wasn’t sleeping.

So although I’d meant to start blogging again after we moved in, I didn’t. But I worked toward getting better. By the end of the summer I was feeling well enough to attend a live show. By September I was riding again. Today, I think I’m more or less back to normal, health-wise.

Despite the illness, it’s been a great year. We love our new condo and our urban life. I’m back to my regular hours at work, tackling new and exciting projects. I’m riding regularly and falling in love with a little dun gelding. I’ve had some great hobby successes and have exciting goals for the future.

Sweet Onion Live 2014

Sweet Onion Live 2014

And as of right now, I’m blogging again! I’ve been keeping up with the other hobby blogs during my absence from the blogosphere, and I am constantly excited, inspired, and in awe of other hobbyists’ dedication to sharing their experiences. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today in the hobby without this generosity, and I want to be able to reciprocate. I may not be up to blogging as much as I did before my hiatus, but at least I’ll be posting again.

I particularly want to give a shout out to a couple specific people whose blogging has been inspirational to me over the last few months. To Jennifer Buxton, whose dedication to blogging and willingness to share is unparalleled. To Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig, whose honest and heartfelt post about her depression and her hobby journey resonated with me deeply- and made me want to buy an OF Breyer. And finally to Grace Ledoux, whose awesome hobby blog I recently discovered, whose mini tack is amazing, and whose thankful note pushed me to finally write this.

Thank you everyone! I’m excited to be back.

thumbs up jump 1 copy