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Showing Model Horses

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Live Show Etiquette (.pdf)

Model horse showing is an activity that comes to us from the world of "real" horses. Shows put model horses in competition with each other, generally using the same standards that live horses are held to. Model horses can compete in a wide variety of classes covering (among other things) gender, color, breed, and performance.

How are model horses judged? Just like in live horse shows, models are judged on how well they meet the established standards for a class. In breed classes, for example, the model will be judged on how well its conformation and color meet the requirements for that breed. Hobbyists who want to do well in today's competitive show environment would do well to research the real world requirements for the breed or type of performance class being entered! And just like in those other shows, presentation also plays a major part. A winning model horse will be in top-notch shape, with no noticeable scratches, chips, or breaks. Its color will be bright, with little or no paint overspray or other manufacturer's defects. It will also be set up well, with nothing distracting the viewer from the illusion that the model is a "real" horse.

How are model horse shows held? Model horse competitions are held in two different ways: live shows and photo shows. I'll talk about both in more detail later, but here's a quick overview.

Live Shows most closely match what you may have seen in live horse shows. Participants pack up their models and bring them to a predetermined location, where they are placed in show rings and judged alongside their competitors. BreyerFest is the biggest example of this, and many other live shows can be found through NAMHSA.

Photo Shows allow model horse owners from all over the world to compete against each other without ever meeting face-to-face. A scene is set up that features the model in either a natural or studio setting and a photo is taken. Photos can either be the traditional paper pictures or, more frequently, digital photos. These photos are then submitted to the show holder, who uses these photos to judge how well each model compares to its competition and to the requirements of the class.

How can original finish models compete? Aren't they all the same? Yes and no. While it's true that there are hundreds or thousands of any one model made, thanks to Breyer's hand painting no two are exactly alike. Those that have good, even body coloring, finely done detailing, smooth seams and straight, non-warped legs will do the best in the show ring. Also very important is minimal to no overspray, or paint from one area that has "leaked" over into another, such as when white paint from a mane covers some of the body paint on the body. Any scratches or scuffs will count heavily against a model (less so on very old "vintage" models), so it's best to bring only your finest, most mint condition models to a live show. For information on determining the appropriate breed for your model, please see Breyer's excellent webpage, Do Your Model Horse Homework For Breed Assignment!.

How to I find model horse shows to enter?

Web sites with lists of upcoming live shows:

Clubs Offering Photo and/or Live Shows


This site is run for and by collectors of BreyerŽ model horses. It is not sponsored by Breyer, which is a division of Reeves International, Inc.

Please note that you may NOT use the photos found here for any purpose without prior permission.