I just returned from my annual trip to Lexington, Kentucky for Breyerfest. To shed a little light on my “other identity”, Breyerfest is an annual convention for model horse collectors. Breyer Molding Co., a subsidiary of Reeves International, originally gave birth to its first plastic model horse around 1950. They were commissioned by a clock company to create this horse to decorate their clocks. The horse was then released by itself and Breyer continued to create an entire line of horse molds and colors.
I started collecting Breyers when I was 5 years old. I loved horses, but we didn’t have the land, the money or the know-how for horses. So Breyers were the next best thing. Throughout high school and college, my collection multiplied! In those years Breyers had great collectible value and I began buying and selling to help fund my schooling and my addiction to the hobby! Because I was heavily researching prices on Breyers, I decided to publish a Breyer value guide, which was in production for several years. As my life filled with other things, like a “real job” and home ownership, the Breyer value guide fell to the wayside. I still collected and eventually started to dabble in another aspect of the hobby – model horse customizing.
There are artists who repaint and/or resculpt these plastic models. There are also artists who create equine sculptures from scratch and have them produced into molds. People can buy these unpainted resins and paint them. I loved the idea of repainting these models so I started hand-painting and eventually picked up an airbrush. As I produced more and more customized horses, I started to offer them for sale to the model horse community. Sales went well and when my husband and I moved into our first house together, he made a studio for me where I did all my painting. We then decided to sell that and build a new house. Life filled up with home construction, home decorating, and career advancements and, again, left no time for the horse hobby. We never built a studio for me in our new home. But I do miss painting horses and every Breyerfest reminds me of that passion.
Breyerfest, summed up, is a madhouse of crazy horse collectors frantically buying, selling and promoting. It’s predominantly women, but supportive husbands and budding collector children come along for the ride. Breyerfest is held at the Kentucky Horse Park and the Holiday Inn. The hotel is booked 350-some days in advance, and rooms sell out within hours. Every evening, people staying in the hotel open up the room doors and the hotel becomes a model horse flea market! The halls are packed with thousands of people shopping for their next prized possession. The banquet halls are home of the infamous Friday night “Swap Meet”, where collectors rent tables and sell their horses, and the Artisan’s Gallery, where artists rent tables and sell their resins and customs (the repainted/resculpted & made from scratch models). There are also artists that make model horse sized tack, model horse sized buggies and carts, model horse sized stables, model horse sized dioramas… like I said, we’re crazy horse collectors. If I told you about the “model horse show world”, you’d think we all needed therapy. If I told you about the “model horse breeding program”, you’d think we all needed rehab!
I was selling some “original finish” models (factory-produced, the ones you buy off the shelf in a store) and some customs and resins. I had customs from various artists, including 4 of my own. I was very pleased that the 2 customs that sold were both mine! Made me feel like my artistry is still valued a little in the hobby! And made me want to rush home, build a new studio, and grab the airbrush and air compressor out of storage. My husband refused to let me. He said he gets little enough of my time as it is.
To add a jewelry-related blurb... I brought my jewelry the last couple years and sold that out of the room too. It doesn’t sell too well, since everyone’s budget is for more horses. But one of the girls who bought a necklace from me last year came to my room late Saturday night, told me she’s been looking for me all weekend, and wanted to see my jewelry again. She said she gets compliments constantly when she wears the necklace. I didn’t have my jewelry with me, but had a few pieces I brought to wear. She fell in love with one of the bracelets, and bought that.
I’m back home, unpacked and all model horses are put back away. Next year is the 20th anniversary of Breyerfest and should be quite a fiesta! My husband wants to ditch the annual horse trip and go to the Jimmy Buffet concert instead. “But honey, it’s the 20TH ANNIVERSARY!” I think he wants to skip the madness of it all just once. It takes a strong man to be married to a model horse collector.