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What Judges Look For in Model Horse Performance Class Entries

Learn What Judges Look for in Model Horse Show Performance Class Entries

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Live model horse show winning entry

When all the details are in place, you may have a winning live show entry like this one by collector Joyce Savage.

Copyright 2011 by Joyce Savage. Used with permission.

Each judge has his or her own personal preferences, but in general, model horse show judges at live and photo shows look for certain things in each entry. Learn what judges look for in model horse show performance class entries in both live and photo shows and improve your chances of winning at your next model horse show.

Condition of the Breyer Horse is Key to Model Horse Show Wins

The first question to ask as you examine your horse model collection is whether or not the Breyer or other model horse is even worth showing. You probably love all your Breyer horses, but not every single one is appopriate for a show. Horse models with scratches, chips, rubs and paint flaws should be left at home or left out of photo show classes unless you can pose them so that the flaws don't show. A rub on the left side may be hidden by taking the picture of the right side of the horse model. You can't hide such flaws in a live model horse show where your model is out on the table for the judge to scrutinize, so take only your very best model horses to live shows.

Choose Model Horses in Suitable Poses or Gaits

Although the Breyer grazing mare may be your favorite horse model of all, chances are good she won't do well in performance classes. The first criteria for choosing the best Breyers from your model horse collection for performance class entires is to match the horse model to the performance class you are entering.

Certain poses offer more opportunities to show in performance than others. While there are some creative examples of collectors explaining away some weird poses in their performance class entries, stick to the easiest poses for your first entries in live and photo show performance classes. A walking model, trotting model or cantering poses works well for over 90% of the performance classes on any show classlist. Even standing models offer performance options.

This is where your reference photo collection and videos online of actual horse show events come in handy. Take your time studying them. Look at actual horse shows; what can you take away from your study of photos and videos to use in your model horse show entires? Make a list and brainstorm ideas for explaining your favorite Breyer's pose so that you can enter him into performance classes.

Check How the Tack Fits the Model Horse

Model horse show performance classes all require some type of tack whether it's a showmanship halter or a complete harness and cart. Use reference books and photos to learn all you can about how each piece of tack is supposed to fit a real horse. Judges will take points away for loose girths, saddles that don't fit, or bridles hanging limply from the horse's head. In real life, such things would be safety and health hazards and would be penalized, and model horse show judges do the same in the show ring. Invest in some sticky wax or museum putty to affix bits into their proper place. You may need to buy one set of saddles for your ponies and smaller models in Traditional scale and one set for larger models. Whatever you do, though, be sure the tack fits.

Position the Rider or Handler Doll Carefully

Another thing that model horse show judges look at is the rider or handler doll. Since most performance classes can omit the doll, if you do choose to use a rider doll, do so with care. Not only must the doll be properly attired for the class, but she must be positioned well too. Check the head, hands and foot position of dolls. The biggest flaw in English riding classes, for example, is a leg position in the doll with the leg hanging too long and the foot pointing down. It may be difficult or impossible to position the doll properly, but do your best and if worst comes to worst, consider leaving the doll out of the setup.

Choose Accessories, Props and Jumps for Model Horses Carefully

Accessorize your entry carefully. Choose jumps and props such as trail bridges and poles with care. If you're setting up a photo show diorama, use additional props such as trees and shrubs carefully. Don't cram your photo with barnyard animals, wildlife or plants. Keep it simple and natural or the extra accessories can detract from the overall presentation.

It's helpful to write up your explanation and notes for each performance class on a single sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper and slip it into a clear plastic sheet protector, such as those sold at office supply stores for reports. You can also make a photo copy of any reference pictures and slip it into the other side or another sheet protector. Many sheet protectors are 3-hole punched and can be kept in a binder to transport easily and neatly to your live shows.

Attend a Clinic or Enter Pictures in a Clinic for More Feedback

If you're still not pinning in performance classes, consider attending a horse model clinic or submitting your pictures to an online collector bulletin board such as Model Horse Blab for critique. Collectors can look at your show pictures with an objective eye and pinpoint things you might have missed, such as missing tack or poorly fitting tack. Be open to the criticsm and try new things if suggested.

Entering model horse performance classes takes time, patience, study and practice. The more you try, though, the better you will get, so keep working at those show photos and entries!

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