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Showing Model Horses in Costume Classes - Creative Costumes for Breyers

Show Off Your Tack Making Skills in Arabian, Native American and Other Costume

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Arabian model horse in a native costume class for model horses

Arabian horse model shown in Native Costume class.

Copyright 2011 by Randa Garrett. Used with permission.

Costume classes makes it sound as if you're dressing your Breyer horse up for Halloween, but in reality, costume classes for model horses take their cues from breed shows and other real horse performance shows where horses and their riders are dressed in the proper tack and accessories for their heritage. Sometimes costumes get fanciful or silly, but they're never dull! Learn more about the three general types of costume classes and how you can get started showing in them: Arabian, Native American, and Historical costumes.

What Are Costumes for Model Horses?

"Costume" is perhaps a poor word choice for the intricately made saddles, bridles, pads, rider dolls and accessories that often accompany a model horse costume class entry. "Costume" refers to accessories that accurately portray the historical nature of the model horse's breed or perhaps recreate a historical mood or portrait. The idea is to recreate in miniature an entire scene with as much historical and technical accuracy as possible.

There are also "fun" costume classes where horses and their riders are dressed in silly themes and outfits. You'll find these at real horse shows, especially near Halloween and Mardi Gras. People drape a black cape around themselves, hold a pumpkin and pretend they are riding straight out of the Legend of Sleep Hollow! Model horse collectors tend to go more for historical accuracy than craziness, but you will sometimes see a call for entries copying costume class pictures. Then anything goes, and as long as you can recreate the original source photo in detail, you've completed a good entry.

Arabian Costume Classes for Model Horses

One of the glamorous among the costume classes for Breyer horses and other horse models is the Arabian costume class. Arabian horses tend to be very popular breeds to collect among model horse enthusiasts, and many Arabian horse model lovers also design and create intricate Arabian costumes for their horses. Arabian horses are shown dedecked with Arabian-style saddles complete with silk, velvet and satin trim and tassels, along with rider dolls in elaborate Arabian clothing. You can make an Arabian halter from embroidery thread and create a matching blanket and tassels out of scrap thread and silk. Saddles and scenes should reflect Native Arabian costumes and the desert heritage of the Arabian horse breed. Collector and artisan Jennifer Wilson offers beautiful images of her custom-made Arabian costumes on her site, Jennifer's Imagination.

Native American Costume Classes for Breyer Horses

Native American costume classes depict the original and unique tack used by the Native American peoples. Horses were extinct in North America before Europeans re-introduced them to the area, and the local tribes adapted their own ideas of beauty and function to the horse's tack. It's important to study reference photos and choose horse model breeds and accompanying tack based on as much information as you can gather. Indian Costume or Native American Costume classes typically feature Appaloosa horses, popular among the Nez Perce and other Western tribes, as well as Paint horses and other colors and breeds. Beads, feathers and other ornaments create intricate and authentic Native American costume class entries. For some great pictures of Native American costumes, visit Ghost Horse Studios where Cindy Williams recreates Native American scenes complete with Breyer horses, elaborate tack, and costumed rider dolls.

Historical and Other Costumes

There are many other types of costumes to choose from for your model horses. The important thing is to match the costume to the model horse's breed. Here are more examples and ideas for costumes for model horses:

  • Historical Costumes: Find a reference image you love of a portrait or painting from a bygone era. Knights in shining armor, a lady astride a palfrey, Lady Godiva, a Victorian woman in the hunt field, Alexander the Great on his horse Bucephalus - you name it, you can find it. Such images are fun and challenging to recreate.
  • Spanish Costumes: Spain offers many beautiful breeds of horses, and many specialized costumes to recreate accurately the entire image of the Lusitano, Andalusian or Lipizzan horse.
  • India and Asia: The Marwari horse, a pony or small horse from India, can be shown with proper tack and costume. Mongolian horses, and many other horses native to Asia, also offer fun possibilities
  • Other Costumes: The sky's the limit! Dress a rider doll in black cape, pull the cape over her head, make a mini pumpkin or Jack O'Lantern, and set him astride a black horse model. You've just recreated the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Real horse shows often feature funny and outrageous costumes. Use reference photos and recreate one just for fun!

Expert tack maker Melody Snow shared some photos of her Historical Costumes on the Model Horse Gallery.

Getting Started: Research and Select Your Style

If showing your Breyers and other model horses in costume classes intrigues you, here's how to get started on creating your own unique horse model costume:

  • Choose the model horse you wish to show in costume classes. Most tack makers create horse model costumes to fit one mold, such as the Breyer Proud Arabian Mare, rather than make one costume and try it on dozens of models.
  • Select the style of costume you want to try: Arabian, Native American, Spanish, Historical, "Fun" Anything Goes.
  • Research, research, research! Learn everything you can about the history, the place, the people and the horses for the costume you're trying to make. All of this information goes into making a stunning and realistic costume class entry.
  • Print a clear reference photo.
  • Make a list of what you'll need - thread, material, leather, trim, beads.
  • Shop online from well-known suppliers such as Unicorn Woman or Rio Rondo.
  • Get crafting!

Don't forget to create a terrific diorama to show of your model horses. Then, take winning photo show entries or bring your scene to a live show or clinic for feedback.

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