If you’ve had horses in your life, then there’s a good chance you’ve also had horse toys and models. Probably one of the best known in the industry being the Breyer model horses. My home-made stable was full of trusty resin steeds, keeping me busy and creative until my time was eventually spent on living versions of the toys I’d loved for so long.
Chicago, IL was the home to the Breyer Molding Company in 1950 when they first introduced the #57 Western Horse, as a special order for the F. W. Woolworth Company. I never had one of these models, though they were re-introduced a few times I believe, but the mold is highly recognizable. I do recall however, Dad having a copper version of this, though I’m not sure where he came across it. Needless to say, it was one of my first forays into the model horse world, and he suffered greatly as a result, when there was only so much you could do with super glue…
Over the years, my herd grew to include a few famous faces, The Black Stallion model, which I believe also came with a copy of the Walter Farley book by the same name:
(He also suffered some traumatic leg injuries, “galloping” across miles of carpeted floor and the grass plains of our backyard. I think I may have even broken an ear? Thankfully I learned to use a gentler touch on the real ones!)
My Clydesdale Stallion was a hard worker in my stable. When I first began collecting, all the fantastic accessories weren’t even in existence yet. All my horses had to wear hand-made creations and items borrowed from Barbie or My Little Pony. They weren’t always the best fit, but I made them work.
(This guy lost a rosette or two during his hard labor.)
In the mid-90’s Breyer introduced a series of four Quarter Horses that you could name and register. Being a Quarter Horse owner and shower, I had to collect them all.
(Luckily these guys came along when I was older and more interested in the collectibility rather than using them for play, so they managed to survive unscathed.)
One of my favorites though, was my smaller scale Man O’ War model. I bought him with “my own” money (given by mom and dad for the occasion) on our trip to the Kentucky Horse Park. We drove down the night before and stayed at a hotel in Lexington. For some reason, I distinctly remember this hotel as being sea green in color, everything was sea green. My spending money made it as far as the gift shop at the hotel, where that model, and some other seemingly necessary items were purchased upon my being left unattended for what was probably not that long.
(He also survived my formative years unscathed. I should also note that all models shown are not from my own collection, just searched and borrowed from the internet.)
One of the great things about The Kentucky Horse Park, is that not only is it the mecca for horse lovers in the US (or at least on the eastern side and mid-west), but it promotes the love and enjoyment of both flesh and bone animals, as well as their resin counterparts. Every summer, collectors gather to display their beloved Breyers, compete with them, admire and shop for new additions at the annual BreyerFest event. http://www.breyerhorses.com/bf2017-tickets This year’s festival is July 14th-16th, and features the theme Gateway to India. A 3-day ticket includes entry to the festival and many special events and activities throughout, as well as the celebration model for the event, Nazruddin, a 2006 Marwari stallion, one of fewer than 15 Marwari horses in the United States. Owned by Francesca Kelly, Nazruddin typifies the exotic beauty and charisma of his home country.
The theme of this year’s festival is intended to educate visitors about the rich equine history of India. Tent pegging is an ancient cavalry sport that originated in Asia and combines the skill and excitement of jousting and mounted archery. Modern Polo also originated in India and is still widely played all over the world.
If you live in Ohio, like me, you know Lexington is an easy drive south, and a fantastic place to spend a long weekend broadening your love for all things horse-related. The weekend in July will be a great opportunity to enjoy living and model varieties.
I’m sad to say, my collection is gathering dust in my parents’ basement. Some day when I have a proper writing office set up, I’ll clean them up and put them on display.