Model Horses

What are Model Horses?

The model horse hobby is inclusive of all sorts of scale model horse sculptures, including models made from plastic, resin, china, ceramic and even original sculptures. Many of these are mass-produced, but just as many are one-of-a-kind pieces. They can range in size, from tiny micro minis at about 1.5" tall, through to large traditionals that can stand 12" at the ears, or even taller. Lots of different breeds and ages are depicted by these beautiful models: racing-fit Thoroughbreds, fuzzy pony foals, large draft breeds through, dainty Arabians and more.

The hobby includes a wide range of activities that welcome everyone with open arms. There are many hobbyists who enjoy simply collecting their favourite models, through to those who like to create various items for hobby use, and then there are those hobbyists who like to compete with their models. Prior to the advent of the internet, many hobbyists communicated through mail and hobby publications (of which AIMHC is one), but now there are lots of forums and online clubs aroud to create a friendly community amongst hobbyists around the world.

While you do not have to show your models to participate or even enjoy the hobby, there is a very large market for hobbyists who choose to do so. Model horse shows are based roughly off real horse shows, and models can win points, ribbons, rosettes, trophies and more if they are successful. Live shows enable collectors to gather together in person (as opposed to online), and these shows help foster a friendly community atmosphere in the hobby. To learn more about showing your models, please visit the Show Information page.

Types of Model Horses

There are three main types of model horses, which are described by their finish. Unlike model cars or planes, model horses don`t need to be assembled from kits.

Original Finish
Original Finish, or OF, is a term used to describe models that have been produced in a factory, and they are often (but not always) mass-produced in bulk numbers. To make things confusing, the brand Stone Horses will often produce one-of-a-kind (OOAK) plastic models - these are still considered Original Finish in the hobby world. Plastic OFs are the most common, but some resin and china models can also be considered OF.

Plastic OFs are created in a factory, where the plastic is poured into a mould, removed when dry, and then painted. These painted 3-D models are then shipped out and often sold in retail stores, and often internationally. Breyer, owned by Reeves International, is a very popular brand in the hobby, as are Stone Horses and Schleich, as well as other brands.


Examples of Model Horse Brands
Breyer Horses Produces OF plastic and OF china
Produces OF plastic
Schleich Produces OF plastic
CollectA Produces OF plastic
North Light Produces OF resin
Beswick Produces OF china

While OFs are usually mass-produced, they can also be released in a limited run or edition, where only a select number are produced. These LE models are sometimes made for special events or occasions, and the run number may be as small as one model, or reach into thousands.

As well as the original finish resins dicussed above, there is another type of resin model horses: artist resins. These models are created when an artist chooses to have their original sculpture cast in resin, and then the casts (resin copies of the sculpture) are sold in a limited or open edition. These artist resins (known as ARs), are usually sold blank for other artists to paint and/or and/or otherwise customise. Like OFs, resins are available in all sizes and breeds; they are only limited by an artist`s imagination!

Due to the high cost of having a sculpture cast, artist resins are often more expensive than OFs or CMs, but the detail achieved in the casting process often allows for more realistic models.

A customised model is an OF model that has been modified in some way from the original version. There are various levels of customising work:

  • Etching, where a blade is used to scratch way the original finish paint to reveal the white plastic underneath
  • Repainting, where a model is painted a different colour or pattern.
  • Repositioning, where an artist will move something on the model to a new position: an ear, the tail, a leg, etc. A single joint may be moved, or the entire model modified. Models will then be repainted.
  • Hairing, where the plastic mane and tail are removed, and a hair mane and tail are added. Models will usually be repainted.

Customised models (known as CMs) are unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of work, and various mediums are used. Some artists, called customisers, like to use acrylics, while others may choose to use oil paints, pastel dust or an air brush, or a combination of mediums. Each medium has its own pros and cons with use, so no two models will be the same.