Paint Horses are a part of our lives, from the show ring to the cattle
pen to the fireplace mantle.
Over the years many Paint Horses
have been immortalized as model horses. To find out the stories behind a few of
the painted model stars, the Journal chatted up the owners of four
real-life Breyer® models.
Sam I Am
The 1982 bay overo stallion entered the Hendersons’ barn almost by
chance. He earned a Register of Merit (ROM) in reining when the discipline was
just entering its heyday. He survived a broken leg and went on to celebrate his
20th birthday in the company of thousands..
Sam I Am is a big little horse.
was not named after Dr. Seuss!” says owner Beverley Henderson of Jackson, Ohio.
Henderson was a friend of the stallion’s former owner, Edna Burton-Miller, whose
grandfather had nicknamed her Sam. In 1982, Henderson was admiring one of
Burton-Miller’s horses, a bay overo colt she describes as “the cutest little
thing I’d seen.”
The colt soon appeared in the Hendersons’ barn, and
Burton-Miller refused to take him back. She took a saddle home instead.
Henderson’s husband, Jerry, who suggested changing the colt’s name—originally
Calico Sample—to honor their friend. The colt became Sam I Am.
At the same time,
Jerry noticed a great craze of the 1980s: Cabbage Patch Kids®, which came with
their very own adoption certificates. Beverley contacted Breyer Animal
Creations® with an idea modeled after the trendy dolls—why not create a Breyer
model of “Sam” and let buyers own a small share in him, too?
The idea took off.
Produced in 1984, the models of Sam came with a registration certificate.
“Everyone who bought one of those models owns a little part of Sam now,”
Sam had more personality than he seemed to know what to do with,
but Henderson doesn’t seem to mind. She laughs about his pranks and says that
despite his silliness, he’s a solid mount.
“You could lope on him from here to
California and back,” she said.
Sam earned a ROM in reining as a 5-year-old, but
he soon faced a greater challenge. At age 8, he broke a hind leg just above the
hock. Despite his usual antics, he remained calm throughout the ordeal, even for
the six months he spent in a sling. Henderson says he has, however, shown a
clear preference for being outside a stall ever since.
Sam sired just one foal—a
“quiet-minded” 1985 sorrel overo mare named Eeka Adeca (“red deer” in Comanche,
says Henderson). Like her sire, the mare earned a ROM in reining. One of her
foals, Trash A Smoking, carried the reining tradition to a third generation,
earning an APHA reining ROM and multiple NRHA reining titles under the
Hendersons’ daughter, Beth.
Sam, meanwhile, continued serving as a personal
mount of the Henderson family. He was still working under saddle when he was
invited to the 2002 BreyerFest® at the Kentucky Horse Park, an annual gathering
of model horse enthusiasts.
“He performed two or three times a day,” Henderson
said. “He could still spin some then.”
Photos of Sam in Lexington, wearing the
signature blue BreyerFest cooler, still cross the Internet. His Breyer models,
too, are still traded and shown, some 25 years after they were introduced. Sam,
meanwhile, is enjoying a well-deserved retirement.
It’s a long-lasting tribute
to a long-living horse named in honor of a long-time family friend.
“A girl among men.” That’s how Anita Horn of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma,
describes her 1993 buckskin tobiano mare, Leahs Fancy Chick.
“Fancy” has done
what few mares have achieved. She not only ventured into the male-dominated
roping pen, but she beat the boys at their own game.
Foaled in 1993, Fancy is a
“big, strong, physical mare,” Horn says.
When the Horns first bought her as a
young prospect, they considered training her for reining. But after an early
accident, they instead sent her to roping trainer Steve Orth. Horn recalls that
Orth said Fancy was a natural, and the mare proved him right.
She earned her
first three ROMs as a 4-year-old in heading, heeling and steer stopping,
followed by a ROM in tie-down roping the next year. Over the next two years,
Fancy earned three Superior titles, two world championships and three reserve
world championships—all in Open cattle events. In 1999, she became the first
mare to earn the Oscar Crigler Cattle Award, presented at the APHA World Show.
Fancy’s Amateur show record—accrued with Horn’s husband, Hoby—reads much the
same, with three ROMs, three Superiors and world championships in Amateur
heading and heeling.
People noticed Fancy’s talent in the cattle pen, but they
sometimes missed a key fact.
“I did have people ride up and ask me what the stud
fee was on her,” Horn recalled with a laugh. The unofficial rule was that nobody
takes a mare into the cattle pen.
Horn says she thinks Fancy’s talent and her
unusual buckskin tobiano coloring are what caught Breyer’s attention.
contacted me [about doing a model],” she said.
She couldn’t have predicted what
would unfold, but Horn didn’t question it.
“When you’re fortunate enough to have
a horse of that caliber, things just happen,” Horn explained, “and you just go
along with it.”
The enthusiasm with which model horse fans welcomed Fancy at the
2000 BreyerFest, though, did surprise her. That weekend was rainy, she says, but
people stood under umbrellas for hours waiting to get their models signed.
Accompanying Fancy to BreyerFest was her 3-month-old filly.
“Everyone was amazed
by how quiet, how gentle they were,” said Horn.
BreyerFest participants were
invited to name Fancy’s filly, who shared her famous dam’s buckskin tobiano
coloring; Breyer introduced a special limited-run model of the filly.
daughters and I chose the final name, Leahs Fancy Breyer,” Horn said.
enthusiastic were the fans, Horn says, that it was hard to leave the Kentucky
Horse Park when BreyerFest ended.
“People kept coming up and asking, ‘Please,
could you sign just one more?’ “ said Horn.
Fancy returned to the Horns’ ranch
and retired to broodmare duties. Of her five foals, two have APHA show records.
Horn says the Breyer experience, and Fancy’s achievements, have been amazing.
“We’ve met so many wonderful people,” she said. “There’s so much camaraderie in
the show pen; even your competitors recognize a great horse.”
Today, the mare
lives what Horn calls a grand life. It’s a good thing no one told Fancy that
mares aren’t cut out for cattle work. She wouldn’t have believed them anyhow.
She’s that kind of girl.
When Karen Banister of Brighton,
Colorado, picked a colt out of a Texas horse herd in 1986, she wasn’t thinking
about legends or legacies. She wasn’t even thinking about Paint Horses. She was
looking for hunter/jumper prospects.
But one all-white colt with a distinctive
black medicine hat marking stood out—in part because he was at the front of the
other horses as they raced up to her. Although other people tried to talk her
out of buying the colt, she refused to listen.
Two fast years later, the 1985
bay tovero stallion—registered as Sacred Indian but nicknamed “Hatter” after Dr.
Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat character—earned ROMs in hunter under saddle and
Over the next seven years, he added nine more ROMs in events that
ranged from Western pleasure to working hunter. By the time he retired, he had
amassed 11 ROMs, three Superiors, three world championships, two reserve
championships and one national championship. He tied for the High-Point English
Horse title at the 1990 World Show and was named Reserve All-Around Horse at the
1992 World Show.
Showing wasn’t enough for Hatter, though. He raced, too.
months after he won a national championship, he was racing against Quarter
Horses,” Banister said. “He had 30 days of race conditioning, and we had three
weeks of the race season left.”
Hatter raced three times during those three
weeks, placing third once and winning one race.
Even more impressive is the
little-known fact that Hatter earned his accolades with vision in only one eye.
“When he was 18 months old he had an eye infection,” Banister explained. “The
medication he was on cleared up the eye infection, but it left him blind in his
Hatter’s adventure as a Breyer horse started when Banister received a
letter from Breyer letting her know that someone had suggested him as a model.
She signed the paperwork and didn’t think much about it, she says. A couple
months later, a local toy store called.
“They wanted to set an appointment for
Hatter to come and sign some models,” said Banister. When she told the caller
she wasn’t sure whether Hatter would be made into a model, they said, “ ‘No, we
have a book and you’re in it.’ “
Hatter attended BreyerFest 1998, an event
Banister says could unnerve even a seasoned show horse. For model signing
sessions, the (live) horses and their owners are positioned at designated spots.
Then, “someone blows a whistle and everyone comes stampeding to the horses,”
waving their models in rattling plastic bags. Banister laughs at the memory.
Hatter, who died in 2006 at age 20, sired 335 Paint foals. More than 100 of
those foals have show records, and they include the earners of 33 world
championships and 39 reserve world championships.
But beyond her stallion’s
breeding record, beyond his talent and versatility, Banister says, were his
friendship, his heart and his mind.
“Hatter was a horse ahead of his time,” she
Sometimes a horse is more than a horse.
That’s the case with
Sherry Carr in Winder, Georgia. In 1991, she bought a weanling black overo filly
named Silky Keno. Something about “Keno’s” blue eyes, serene expression and
striking presence, on top of flashy overo coloring, caught her eye and touched
her heart at the same time.
Carr needed that energy and inspiration. She was
recovering from advanced ovarian cancer, and the filly offered her a respite
from her fight.
That close relationship didn’t keep Keno out of the show ring.
In APHA’s Paint Alternative Competition program, she earned a Certificates of
Recognition and Certificate of Achievement for in-hand events in 1991 and 1992,
followed by a Certificate of Recognition in Western pleasure in 1994. In the
APHA show arena, Keno earned ROMs in Western pleasure, barrel racing and pole
bending. She also competed in hunter under saddle, reining, trail and Western
riding. Video footage of Keno shows the same relaxed look and smooth
athleticism, whether she’s jogging down the rail in a Western pleasure class or
blazing around a set of barrels.
But Keno wasn’t done yet. The mare who had
buoyed her owner’s spirits during cancer treatments grew up to offer something
“When Keno was a baby, I sent Breyer a letter about her being an
ambassador for the American Cancer Society,” Carr explained. “I loved being able
to give something back.”
Partial proceeds from that model, introduced in 2001,
were donated to the American Cancer Society. That same year, Keno attended
BreyerFest with her colt, Shadow Of Blue, at her side. A special edition
BreyerFest model of the colt was created just for participants.
the Breyer experience as a rich one.
“I’ve met so many great people who are
still great friends today,” she said.
After the Breyer models were crafted, the
Peter Stone Company® made its own model of Keno. That model holds special
meaning for Carr. It commemorates her late husband, John Tuvell, who was killed
in a 2003 car accident.
More Stone models followed. Legend Of Atahri, a 2002
medicine hat overo stallion Carr bred to Keno, was one of the models; he is now
a police horse with the Los Angeles Police Department. Other models paid tribute
to some of Keno’s foals—Shadow Of Blue, Echo In The Night and Ruby Keno.
Keno is retired from work and breeding. The mare’s greatest joy, Carr says, is
“babysitting” children at family gatherings. Although her bloodlines and
show-ring record would create a brisk market for foals, Carr has been
conservative about how often the mare is bred.
She’s so much more than a
broodmare to me,” said Carr.
Carr’s life today is simpler, too; she recently
celebrated 20 years of being cancer-free, but she has not forgotten her fight
with the deadly disease. By increasing awareness and generating income for
research, she hopes a cure will one day be discovered.