Every one of us has seen the shelves of Breyer Horses in the tack store. Many have bought at least one of these model horses either for ourselves or for a young horse enthusiast. Some even classify themselves as a collector. These life-like horses captivated me when I first began riding horses at age 9. I could not have a horse of my own, so I delighted in choosing my favorite Breyers that exemplified my dream horses. I made Christmas lists and saved up my own money to buy that beautiful model of Huckleberry Bey with his flowing mane and animated trot. My father built me a shelf where I displayed them all and kept them meticulously dusted. Breyer Horses hold a special place in my heart. To get these models to their finalized state it takes a lot of work by many people.
After a particular horse is decided on for a new Breyer mold, drawings and photographs are used to create the perfect position. A wire armature is made to make the position three-dimensional and finalize the pose. Clay is sculpted overtop of the wire in order to make the cast. The sculpture can take around 3 months to complete all the intricate details. Breyer horses are cast in two halves and are hollow inside (with the exception of stablemates which are solid). The halves are attached, sanded and cleaned. After that, each model is hand painted by multiple artists. Airbrushes are used for base colors and larger details. Small airbrushes and paint brushes help with detailing on eyes, hooves, brands and chestnuts. They are all packaged in a custom made box with information on the model.
Since there is so much that goes into each model and so many hands have added details to each horse, it is inevitable that there are differences. Each model is unique. There can be various differences that can cause an individual model to be worth more or more sought after. The quality of the paint job can vary from horse to horse. Collectors look for crisp markings, smooth paint job and no blending where separate colors touch. The eyes should be nicely detailed and glossy. In models that are coated in a glossy finish, collectors make sure it is an even coat with no embedded lint. Most of the models released by Breyer are a matte finish. A few special editions are glossy. Once in a while, a few individuals get sent out with the wrong finish. Sometimes models get changed slightly in the middle of their run, making the older one more rare and valuable.
Some models are created with the intention of variation. The Indian Pony, was released with various colorful painted symbols and some were done with a different base coat. More recently released was the AQHA 75th anniversary model. This model was released in 6 colors and some were more rare than others. Still available at Big Dee’s is the Springtime filly, a cute red dun pinto filly, who was released in three patterns. This creates more sought after variations of models for collections.
Collectors usually have a theme to what they collect. Some focus on a certain mold (various paint jobs are given to the same mold), breed or color of horses. There are also collectors who participate in shows where they bring models they own, have created a scene with, or have painted or resculpted. These shows can be live or through photographs. Models can be repainted, repositioned, or re sculpted by artists. Other people are casual collectors and have only their favorites. A large amount of horse lovers have (or had when they are young) at least one Breyer horse. They are a wonderful introduction for kids to the world of horses.
Use this holiday season to gift a wonderful hobby and instill a love of all things equine!