In July 2005, myself Frances Stevens and my friend Nicki Collins embarked on a two-stage flight from Gatwick to Charlotte (USA) and then onto Kentucky (USA). Why? Well to finally fulfil the Holy Grail trip of any model horse collector, that being to attend Breyerfest. Here is the official link by Breyer for their event http://www.breyerhorses.com/breyerfest/ so you can get a feel of exactly what we experienced.
From the moment we were about to land in Kentucky I was struck with just how green the actual grass looked from the window of the plane. I was not disappointed when we landed, as the properties were absolutely gorgeous, with lots of stables surrounded by pristine white post and rail fencing. I can remember thinking I would love to live there myself one day as it was all so impressive.
We checked into the Marriott Hotel upon arrival and the service we received was second to none. It was there that I discovered my first Starbucks “Machiatto” coffee and I have been smitten ever since. The following morning, we were about to arrange for a taxi to take us to the Kentucky Horse Park which is the venue for Breyerfest when by chance we encountered two really lovely ladies.
They turned out to be Christine Holt and her daughter Tara Oliver who both Nick and I already knew from buying model horses in the past. They took us to the horse park in their car and we had a wonderful time visiting the Museum there and watching the Parade of Horse Breeds in the arena outside. It was my first encounter with an American Saddlebred and I was totally awestruck at the total elegance of the breed itself. This particular horse was a smart liver chestnut and he was groomed to perfection.
His lady rider was wearing a purple day suit and I was fascinated by the unusual shoes these horses wear along with the construction of his fairly long-looking but well-defined head. That evening, we went to the Holiday Inn which was just a short walk from our hotel.
It was there that we discovered a hive of activity as just about all the bedrooms were open allowing people to walk in to see what the occupants had for sale.
These items ranged from OF’s, Customs, Resins, Tack, Riders etc and was a total treasure trove for the model horse hobby enthusiast. I had an amazing time that evening as I had the great company of Lyn Norbury who lives in Oklahoma and sculpts and paints the most beautiful model horses under the title of “The Horsepen”.
We really seemed to hit it off straight away and she has become a very close friend. Nicki and I then joined the extremely long queue to gain access to the Artisans Hall. We had no idea what we would find in there so when the doors opened there was a major surge forward and we were separated as fellow collectors
were really keen to check out what was on offer.
There were various tables each showcasing the work of top model horse artists who were there in person. Amongst them were Kathy Bogucki, Sherry Rhodes, Claire Williams, Sheryl Leisure, Caroline Boydston, Candace Liddy, Grace Newhouse and numerous others as well.
Custom and resin models were being snapped up fairly readily and we both managed to buy one model each. By this time, we were both fairly exhausted so we had an early night so we would be refreshed for the opening of Breyerfest itself the following day.
Once again, we went with Christine and Tara and upon our arrival the Kentucky Horse Park was already really busy. There was the Breyerfest Model
Horse Live Show taking place adjacent to the main stadium and Nicki and I drooled over the models on display for some time afterwards. We then went to the indoor stadium and collected our Breyerfest Special OF model that you are given free as part of your entrance fee. This year it was the uniquely coloured Friesian stallion “Fire Magic”.
Around the arena itself were stalls that were full of Breyer models being offered for sale. Some were new, others old or customised but all were extremely popular with the collectors. We then had lunch and managed to get a ringside seat to watch the real horse events in the indoor arena. I was extremely impressed with the parade of Paint horses and then it was time for my favourite horse of the trip to enter the arena. He was the chestnut blanket appaloosa stallion “Impress Me Shannon”.
I was completely bowled over by his immense size and muscularity and his coat colouration was second to none. As you will already be aware, he has been made as an OF model by Breyer and I can sure see why as he was awesome in person.
The following day, the Peter Stone Company held its “Equilocity” Live Show in the Marriott Hotel. Nicki and I had both taken models horses to exhibit at this show and had carefully carried them in our handluggage on the plane. This did lead to some funny looks at Customs etc but we were relieved that they all made it safely without any breaks or damage en route.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at the Live Show and were really impressed that despite the huge number of showers everything ran like clockwork.
There was no waiting for latecomers and for each Performance class the entrants had a three minute warning to allow them to set up their entry in the ring.
There was then a final minute warning given and the class was then deemed as closed and the judging began. It was similar for the Halter classes but the time span allowed was a bit less. All this was very ably controlled by a lady with a microphone who was sitting at the front of the hall. Thanks to her knowledge and voice clarity she ensured that the extremely large show ended exactly on time.
After all this excitement it was time for us to leave and I was very sad to have to say my goodbyes. It sure was a trip that neither Nicki or myself will ever forget and I would definitely encourage anybody to make the journey if you have ever been inclined to do so as you will not be disappointed.
All the USA hobbyists went out of their way to make us feel welcome and were an absolute delight to encounter. In fact, we both liked it that much that we have already booked to return for both Breyerfest and NAN combined this year. Roll on July 2006!!!
Written by: Frances Stevens