I peeked into Walters stall, just out of curiosity. There was a lot of movement going on in there.
Walter, a horse, of course, had his day sheet over his ears and twisted around and draped across his right shoulder. He was looking at himself in a mirror and striking different poses. He grabbed the sheet in his mouth and flipped it back so it slid down his neck. Then grabbing the fabric at his chest, he pulled the sheet up his chest. He looked at himself, but appeared unsatisfied.
"Whats going on?" I asked.
He looked a little embarrassed, then replied, "Im trying to create a new fashion look," he said.
"Because Im soon going to be on the runway with Naomi, Christy, and Cybil," he said. "Im going to be a model."
"What makes you think youre going to be a fashion model?
"Sheryl was here yesterday, measuring me from head to toe, putting tape all over me, and taking pictures of me walking, trotting and loping. Im sure the sewing machines are whizzing; the fall Paris shows arent far off." He obviously had it all figured out--wrong again.
"You can forget Naomi and Christy. Youre going to be a model, but not that kind."
"Well, what kind?"
"A Hartland Collectible," I explained. "Youre being reproduced as a nine by 14-inch resin model. Being resin instead of plastic, they can capture even the wrinkles in your nose."
"Im wrinkleless," Walter said emphatically.
"Youre ridiculous," I countered.
I explained to Walter that Sheryl Leisure, a designer for Hartland, took the photos so she could see how his muscles appeared when he was in motion.
The tape she placed in strategic places so she could keep his body proportions correct. From the photos, Sheryl will make sketches of Walter in different poses, then select the pose for the model. (Heres a secret I didnt even tell Walter: hell be trotting.)
Sheryl then turns the sketches into a clay figure. She uses a wire base, packing clay around it, and then she sculpts Walter. Once she gets the figure she wants, the first resin casting is made. From this casting she will produce about six figures. These figures are her working models. She will make proportion and detail changes and then polish to perfection. When she gets exactly what she wants, the master mold is cast.
Model horses and model horse collecting has been around since the early 1950s, Sheryl explains. Hartland Collectibles, known as a figure maker--sports, religious and horse--was among the first to produce a series of horses. The hobby of collecting various models really exploded when Breyer began the large-scale production of realistically-colored tenite horse sculptures in the late 50s and early 1960s.
As naturally happens when horse lovers get together, there started to be comparisons between models, markings and poses. Model horse shows began.
In the 1970s model admirers started formalized "live shows" where professional judges were engaged, prizes were awarded and records kept of the competition results. Today model horse collecting and competition is worldwide. There are several annual model horse festivals sponsored by Breyer, The Peter Stone Co., and Hartland Collectibles, and each year there are special model runs and limited editions offered.
While Breyer, Stone and Hartland are the major model producers, there are numerous companies which offer horse sculptures in different materials, such as porcelain. And the customizing of models by highly talented artists is becoming very popular. The trading of models has developed into another facet of the hobby, and web sites for displaying, selling, customizing and chatting about models attract new fans.
Of course all this popularity spawed expanded competition and now there are riders for the models, and tack, including leg wraps, saddles, bridles, splint boots, blankets, hoods and tail wraps.
"So, you are going to be part of a whole culture craze, Walter. Hows that grab you?"
"Im thinking models in city parks. You know, next to the statues of famous generals, like Napoleon, Washington and Robert E Lee."