Model horse courtesy of the incredibly talented Nan "Darth" Wagner; setup and photo in honor of her all time favorite Star Wars character.
When I'm asked to explain model horse collecting and showing to someone in one sentence or less, which happens fairly often, I describe it as the equine version of model trains or dollhouses. This almost always elicits an "Ah HA!" moment, proving that most people understand the fascination with collectible miniatures as well as the enjoyment of actually doing something with them, given a familiar context. :-) Combine that with the love of one of the most beautiful animals on the planet, one that is so inextricably intertwined with human history, and has given so much while asking so little in return, and you have for many enthusiasts more than just a hobby: you have a passion.
Children and adults alike have collected equine figures for generations, but it's only been within the last few that model horse collecting as an active participant pursuit has really taken off. I've been lucky enough to be involved through some of the earlier evolutions, from carbon-copy and mimeograph newsletters, Instamatic and Polaroid photography, wild craft-fur hairdos on customized Breyers and knitting yarn halters, to the amazing, artistic, and often professional scope of modelhorsedom in the 21st century. Whether you like collecting a particular make of model or breed of horse, painting or sculpting your own, crafting miniature props or setting up detailed dioramas, taking realistic (or fantastic!) model photos, or packing up and heading to one of the many collectors conventions across the country, the model horse hobby has something to offer horse lovers of all ages.
Model horse hobbyists run the gamut from equine professionals in many disciplines, to backyard owners and casual riders, to folks who just plain love horses and find equine miniatures yet another satisfying way to express it, especially if their life circumstances make real horse ownership or daily involvement impractical. I've even encountered a few hobbyists - one a long time collector and professional equine sculptor - who've confessed to me they're actually rather afraid of horses (yeah, most horses are relatively big animals, and having one step on your foot is a feeling you will never, ever forget), but still find themselves irresistibly drawn. Through the model horse hobby and the many avenues of participation available, anyone who enjoys horses, even if only from a distance, can find a way to connect to the special animal that carried us, often literally, to where we stand today.
Look back at our struggle for freedom,