Tag Archives: performance

NAN 2016: Day 1

We arrived in Kentucky on Sunday evening, and Monday was a blur of errands and preparation. Suddenly it was Tuesday and I was on my way to my first NAN.

The first day of NAN is OF Breed Halter and CM/AR Performance. I was excited and nervous. The hall was enormous.

The show hall

The show hall, with the very first classes being called.

There were twelve show rings, with multiple classes loading at one time. Thanks to some wonderful volunteers, it wasn’t too hard to follow the classes- we had an announcer keeping us constantly updated on the status of each class, and a volunteer manning a huge white board that listed which classes were in what rings.

The oh-so-helpful white board

The oh-so-helpful white board

For me, day one was all about performance. The day started with harness and then several costume classes. I didn’t have anything until the fifth class, so I did as much prep as I could for my upcoming classes and then wandered around nervously looking at all the entries on various tables.

Erin's four Quarter Horses winning top tens in their breed class.

Erin’s four Quarter Horses winning top tens in their breed class.

Finally my first class was called! I had two entries in Scene/Other Performance: Troy Soldier doing horse agility (well, in this case, mule agility) and Puns N Roses doing a liberty demonstration.

One of the awesome things about NAN is that after every class, the top tens placings are announced (in random order) and then they announce the champion and reserve. I love these announcements because you get to hear all the fun names, it’s exciting listening for your horse, and you get to cheer for your friends.

Scene/Other Performance was a big class with some very impressive entries. The announcer listed off the top tens… and the final name she called was Troy Soldier! It was a wonderful moment.

Erin snapped this picture of me, gleeful at winning my first ever NAN Top Ten.

Erin snapped this picture of me, gleeful at winning my first ever NAN Top Ten.

The awesomeness just continued from there. In the next class, Jumper/Cross Country, my old standby performance horse Nightfox won a top ten with my new Star Wars themed jump.


Meanwhile in the other ring, I was setting up my hunter over fences entry with PHF Richard Squared, my beautiful CM Seabiscuit that Tiffany gifted to me earlier this year. When the winners were announced, I was stunned to hear his name announced as Reserve Champion! One of Tiffany’s horses won Champion. Wahoo!

Thank you Tiffany!

Thank you Tiffany!

I love showing performance so much, and getting to do so at NAN, with so many of my friends, with the finest judges in the hobby and the stiffest competition… it was a blast. I was stunned and excited and proud as my entries continued to win top tens as the day went on.

Jaime - Top Ten Other English

Jaime – Top Ten Other English

Puns N Roses - Top Ten Stockwork with my new cows

Puns N Roses – Top Ten Stockwork with my new cows

Meanwhile Erin was garnering ribbons in both CM/AR performance and OF breed halter…


And Tiffany was kickin’ butt in performance with her trademark flare.


After a full day of showing we were down to the very last class- CM/AR Western Riding/Reining/Dressage. I had two entries in this class, both PHF Richard Squared and Puns N Roses. To my joy they were both announced as top tens. I was walking over to the table to disassemble my setups when they announced Puns N Roses as the Champion of the class!

I was so completely stunned, and then dizzy, and then I actually thought I was going to pass out. Folks were clapping and congratulating me and I had to sit on the floor until my head stopped spinning.

This is the face of someone who is trying to play it cool but actually cant stand up or speak coherently.

This is the face of someone who is trying to play it cool but actually can’t stand up or speak coherently.

Talk about a grand finale to an amazing day!

Packing up and heading back to the hotel is all a blur…I was so happy and hungry and excited. I have learned so much in the last few years- from my obsessive research on breeds and events, from countless blogs and tutorials, from my amazing mentors-turned-friends… and this day was in many ways a culmination of all of that.

And this was only Day One!

My performance horses with their winnings

My performance horses with their winnings

Breyerfest Custom Contest

I’ve never been more invested in Breyerfest than this year. Not only have I been helping Erin ready her performance entries for the live show (and making some last minute props!), but I also have a model of my own attending and competing! My horse Nightfox was chosen as a finalist in Breyer’s Custom Contest!

Breyer announced this contest in mid May, and (with a little encouragement) I set to work finalizing some details so I could enter Nightfox in the Performance Excellence division.

Rose City Live 2013

Rose City Live 2013

As someone who makes all my own customs, tack, props, etc., it’s wonderful to have Breyer host a contest where individuals enter horses of their own creation. I take a lot of pride in my DIY approach to the hobby, and it’s very rewarding to have it recognized.

All of the contest finalists in each division will be on display at Breyerfest from Thursday afternoon through Saturday night in the Artisan’s Gallery. Since I’m not attending, Erin will be setting up my scene (and thus making her first foray into mini performance!)

Sweet Onion Live 2014

Sweet Onion Live 2014

Thank you to Breyer for holding this contest and the judges for donating their time. I’m so honored to have been chosen and excited to have my work on display at the model horse event of the year. It’s my own little Armchair Breyerfest!

Are you going to Breyerfest this year? Send me a picture of yourself with my entry! It would totally make my day :D

Casting Cones

As I documented in a previous post, my first experience with casting was not entirely successful. But I did definitely learn a lot- and enough to embark on a smaller, simpler molding task as part of my performance prep for NW Congress last month.

Back in April 2012 I was preparing to show performance at NW Expo. I needed a single cone in two different performance set ups, one in Stablemate scale and one for a Schleich. I sculpted the two cones out of epoxy, and spent way too much time getting the base to be flat and square, and the cone to be… cone-shaped.

In progress cones

In progress cones

For NW Congress I needed at least four stablemate cones. But I didn’t have the time (or patience) to sculpt four more. Plus, I knew it would bug me if they didn’t match. But since the cone has one flat side, I realized that I could do a one-part mold and cast a few more relatively easily.

One part molds are simpler because you only have to pour rubber once, and you don’t have to worry about two parts fitting together perfectly. It’s also easier to pour the liquid plastic.

To make the mold, I took a little plastic cup (like what you’d eat yogurt or fruit out of) and lightly glued the original epoxy cone to the bottom, pushing it down so it was flush with the bottom. I didn’t want the cone to move around when I poured the rubber, and any little imperfection caused by a glue lump would be easily correctable by sanding (it ended up not being an issue at all).

making cone mold

I waited for the glue to set and so that the cone was firmly affixed to the cup. Then I mixed up my liquid rubber and poured it into the cup, making sure to cover the whole height of the cone. After it set, I had a nice little cone mold:

cone mold

Once the mold was done I poured my liquid plastic into it. I thought it might be hard to get it exactly full, but the flat base of the cone made it pretty easy. I recommend pouring from something that you can squeeze to make a kind of spout to control the pour. Handily, any little extra plastic that left on the top was only a very thin layer, so it’s easy to remove after the plastic sets.

I poured four cones, and with a bit of sanding and paint I had a lovely set:

set of cones

On the left is the original epoxy cone, and one the right are my four plastic copies.

The cones are great. I used them in a bunch of my performance set-ups at NW Congress, and I certainly will use them many more times. And if I need more, it’s not hard to make some!

cones in english games

I used the cones in English Games to mark the finish line in Red Light Green Light .

Cones are amazing useful for performance showers- almost essential, really. In fact, while I was working on this post, Jennifer Buxton wrote a post on her blog all about using cones in performance. She also mentions a great (and inexpensive) resource for buying Traditional sized cones. And as usual, a bunch of fun pictures too :)

NW Congress: Performance

Day one of NW Congress has the custom performance classes and halter classes for OF, Hartland, and Chinas. I was so busy showing I didn’t get to take that many pictures, but I do have a few to share.

I didn’t do that well in performance in terms of placings. Competition at NW Congress is top notch, and I still have a lot to learn! This was also my first time doing these new set-ups with Troy Soldier (Nightfox is taking a well-earned rest from performance). The judge was super helpful and gave me lots of great comments, so I’m excited to try these set-ups again. She particularly loved my cowboy curtain set-up, which was really awesome to hear.

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More pictures to come! You can also check out Tracy R.’s Picasa Album from the show.

Completing the Rider

So after casting my first halfsy-rider, I had to add back the missing parts and get her ready to go. First step was to build up her back with foil.

building rider - foil back

Next I covered that in epoxy.

Left: halfsy-rider, right: original sculpt

Left: halfsy-rider, right: original sculpt

And with several epoxy-adding sessions, she looked like a person again and was ready for paint.

building rider - drying paint

I actually decided at the last minute that her head needed to be separate so that she could look in different directions for events like jumping and trail. Now I can just plug her head into a hold drilled in the body, and it swivels.

building rider - body done

And so, after all that, I had a rider for Nightfox. And she was part of my champ winning performance run at Rose City Live.

finished rider

I’m working on several more figures right now, using the same half-cast method. I’m getting faster at the re-sculpting part, especially on those wee hands.

Right now I’m working on three figures, two riders and a walking person for showmanship and such. It’s nice to be doing a whole batch since I can work on one while epoxy dries on others.

new riders

The key here is not to lose those itty bitty heads. I’m making good use of some new little tupperwares.

New Props

My eyes are shot right now from staring at teeny tack all day, so I’m gonna blog about some props I made in the last few weeks. Tack is satisfying to make, and can be fun, but it can also be frustrating and it is hell on the eyes and neck. But props… props are just super fun all around.

Remember this arena? I was pretty stoked when I made it. And it worked just fine, and was a handy part of my performance gear for a year. But I got tired of lugging it around, especially since I was worried the dirt would come off so I always put it on top of things with nothing over it. Additionally, while it’s fun for rail set ups, it doesn’t have much space for things like trail or gaming set-ups.

new arena 1

So I hatched another plan. I wanted to keep the same interchangable fence, but with a larger, more portable, and more storable arena. I’ve been very happily using fabric as my arena base at recent shows, so I decided to go from there.

The new arena is actually super simple. It’s just a piece of hobby wood (14″ long for my minis) with holes drilled in it to accommodate the pins on the bottom of each fence. The fabric drapes over the wood and has little holes cut in it matching the drilled holes. The fences then just plug in to the holes in the wood, with the fabric in between.

new arena 2

A less than stellar picture, but you get the idea (and yes, the fabric has since been ironed)

So now I have a larger arena that is also way easier to transport and store. Compare:

new arena 3

The new arena was one of the first things I made when I got home from Rose City Live. A more recent creation is this cowboy curtain for trail.

cowboy curtain

Pretty fab huh? And as a bonus, the top piece comes off (it’s just plugged into the sides) which makes for much easier transport, AND the poles could be used in a pole bending set up! It was fun and pretty simple to make- it’s really jump hobby wood that’s been painted and glued together, with some holes drilled and some artfully cut plastic bags. Last week Robyn handed me the zebra bag as I was about to take her dog on a walk. I said no way am I putting pooh in there… I need it for projects! And I frittered it away like a little hobby squirrel.

NW Congress is only a few weeks away now… I’ve got a lot done but there’s still a lot on the To Do list. Time will tell!

How to Make Scale Jump Cups

Since I’m showing a different horse in performance at the next show, I need a different jump set up. Previously I had made jump cups and glued them to my standards- but that only allows one height of jump. I like my props to be as flexible as possible so they can be used in lots of different combinations. So I set about to make a new set of jump cups that could be reused and repositioned. And I took pictures so I could share the process.

Do note that this tutorial is only for the jump cups, not the standards. I’m using my lovely standards from Mountain Home Models. You can make your own with hobby wood, glue, and patience.

This tutorial is for stablemate scale jump cups, but could be adapted for other scales. If you’re making a traditional scale jump, I recommend that you check out this post on home made jump cups from Jennifer Buxton of Braymere Custom Saddlery and this jump cup tutorial from CK Tiny Tack.

I made the standard jump cup style, but there are numerous other styles out there that would all be accurate in for model horse performance. This is the basic style I’m going for:

Screen Shot 2013-09-29 at 9.45.35 PM

Standard jump cup from Dover

Materials for this project:

  • thin cardboard (think cereal boxes)
  • super glue
  • paint
  • wire (about 20 guage)
  • thin string like embroidery or cross stitch thread

You’ll also need a pair of small pliers and a wire cutter.

The first step is to cut your cardboard. For lack of better terminology I’m going to refer to the part that grips the standard as the wrapper. You the wrapper to cover three sides of the standard, or very close, just like in the picture of the real jump cup above.

jump cups - cardboard base

You’ll also need to cut a thinner piece to form the actual cups. This piece should be roughly the width of one side of the wrapper. Gently bend the strip around something round (for best results, use your jump poles) so that it forms the cup shape.

Use super glue to attach the bent cup to the wrapper. Bend or trim the cup as needed so that the edges are within the width of the wrapper.

jump cups - basic shape

Set the assembled cups aside to dry thoroughly.

jump cups - assembling cup

Next you can paint your cups. Jumps cups are commonly black, white, or silver, but they can come in pretty much any color you can think of. I went for the classic metal look, which I achieved with a mix of dark grey and silver. Leave the inside of the wrapper unpainted- this will make it easier to use later. But don’t forget the edges of the cardboard that will still be visible.

jump cups - painting

Next we start making the pins. In this scale, the pins don’t actually go through the standard to hold the cup on- they just look like they do.

First, bend you wire to make a tiny hook. Loop your string through the hook and hold it there as you bend the hook shut to form a loop.

jump cups - making pin

click to enlarge the image

Next, bend the wire coming off the loop so that it is straighter, like below. Glue the string to itself to attach it, and make sure it falls at a 45 degree angle to the pin. You can then trim the excess wire- the pin only needs to be a few millimeters long.

jump cups - finished pin

Then, attach the pin to the cup. This is tricky with such tiny pieces and the super glue, but don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries. You make need to adjust the pin as it dries so it comes out of the cup straight- in the picture below it is slanting down too much.

jump cups - glued on pin

Wait for that glue to dry thoroughly before the next step. Carefully, without putting stress on the pin, bend the string around and glue it to the inside of the cup. Avoid making it lumpy as that will make the wrapper not fit your jump standard.

jump cups - glued string

To show the pin coming out of the other side of the cup, glue a tiny scrap of wire to the other side of the cup. Again, you want to make sure it is perpendicular to the wrapper.

jump cups - glued pin end

Let that dry and voila, jump cups!

jump cups - done

I recommend that you make extras, just in case a pin pops off right before your jumper class.

To affix your jump cups, just use sticky wax (the same kind you use for bits and such) on the inside of the wrappers and mold them onto the standard. Since they come on and off, you can adjust the height of your jump and make different pole combinations.

jump cups - on standard

Here’s my jump all set up with a low obstacle and my new jump flags (toothpicks, cardstock and paint). I left this set-up on the shelf overnight and neither the sticky wax or the jump cups failed.

jump cups - finished jump

Jumps are super fun to make because the combinations are endless and you can get very creative. I hope this tutorial was helpful for some folks out there making mini jumps. Got questions? Just ask!