What is live showing?

Judge hard at work.Live showing is just as the name suggests – showing your model in person. At these shows, model horses are usually assessed in two ways: one, as if it were a real horse, and two, as an art piece or collectable. Live shows follow a class list similar to a real horse show, with classes that look at breed, colour, gender, and finish. Realism is strongly preferred by most hobbyists; a model that looks as though it will begin to trot across the table at any point will usually be quite successful in the show ring.

Larger live shows are held in venues such as a rented hall, while smaller shows might be held in a lounge room or garage. Live model horse shows are a great way to meet fellow collectors and make new friends. Depending on the size of the class list, they are usually all-day events, often beginning at around 8am and finishing anywhere between 2pm and 6pm. At these events, competitors gather together under one roof and place their models on a show ring table for judging, similar to a real horse show situation where horses compete in front of judges. The models can be viewed from all angles by the judge, so the showing standard is considered much higher than photo showing.

A judge then spends some time assessing all angles of the models in the show ring, and then places ribbons on the table for their placings. The show ring is then cleared for the next class, and the model that came first is then usually eligible for a Champion or other superior placing.

Prizes at live shows include ribbons (paper and satin), rosettes, sashes, trophies and other prizes, like model horses, chocolate or gift certificates. A model that has won a Supreme Champion or similar placing is considered to be an exceptional model of a very high standard.

The host, judge and entrants at Ultimate Gold Live Show, 2011The best part of live shows is the chance to catch up and meet with friends you might know from online (like a forum). There`s also a chance for gossip in between classes, and there are always gorgeous models in the collections of other hobbyists to see. Live shows can have upwards of 20 people in attendance, although specialty shows (such as just for one finish or size) often have lower numbers of entrants.

In Australia, live shows are increasing in frequency. Excitingly, 2011 saw the very first national event, the Down Under Nationals Championship Live Show, held by the Down Under Model Horse Society. Models who place first or second at a qualifying live show can then go on to show at the Nationals (DUN), where they can compete with other models from around Australia and New Zealand for titles like Grand National Champion.

Halter, Non-Halter and Performance

At a live show, classes can generally be broken up into three broad categories: halter, non-halter and performance.


This section looks at the model as if it were a real horse. It`s here you will find classes that judge the model on its breed and colour. Some shows may go further, and have classes based on gender or other real horseMelbourne Live Show, 2010 aspects. In a real horse show, these are the classes where the horse is lead around the ring by a handler, and its conformation is examined, as well as its fit against the breed standard (if a breed class).


This category is where the model is examined as a collectable or as an art piece. There are two major sections, which are split depending on the model`s finish: collectability (for original finishes), and workmanship (for customs and artist resins).

Collectability looks at the model as a collectable, and assesses the model on a few different factors: age, rarity, desirability and condition. A model that is deemed collectable will be something that has some significance attached to it; it is an extremely old piece, or was from a very limited run, or is a very popular model. For an extremely well-written piece on collectability classes, read this article by Kirsten Wellman: What is collectability and why should we care?

Workmanship, for customs and artist resins, looks at the model as a piece of art, rather than a real horse. Here, the judge looks at the quality of work on the model. Classes are often split by the amount or type of work done on a model.

Repaint-only classes are for models that have just been painted a new colour. Here, the judge will be looking at the quality of the new paint job and the prepping done beforehand: is the model smooth and free from defects, such as pinholes, seams, extra pieces of plastic/resin/epoxy etc; is the shading realistic and correct; has the new paint been applied in thin coats; are brush strokes present, etc.

Repositioning classes are for models that have had some part of them repositioned, from an ear to a leg or the entire body. The judge will be looking for repositioning that was done in respect to anatomy (for example, legs that bend at the joint rather than at some other point), and correctness of any muscling or skeletal changes. The new work needs to complement the existing model and attach smoothly. The model will also be assessed on its new paint job as well.

Models that have been haired also have their own classes. Depending on the show rules, hairing may only include mohair-style manes and tails, or it may include new sculpted manes and tails as well. Again, the judge is looking for new work that was applied with expertise; for example, if the mane/tail was sculpted, then there should be as much detail of the actual hairs as possible, rather than thick `snakes` of epoxy.

PerformanceHarness entry at Performance Extravaganza Live Show, 2011.

Performance is a catch-all term for events where the horse is performing something. Common examples include dressage, showjumping, calf roping, horse racing, etc. Here the judge is looking at a number of different factors:

  • the horse
  • the tack
  • the props
  • the doll (if used)
  • the setup as a whole

A performance entry is meant to be a three-dimensional moment frozen in time. Your setup could be a horse flying over a jump, a roping horse chasing a calf in a roping setup, a dressage horse completing a pirouette in dressage or a pony club rider snatching the mug off a pole in a gymkhana game – your opportunities for performance entries are almost endless!

Though it is mostly reserved for actual, judged events found in the real world, many shows will also have a `Scene` class, where you can recreate day-to-day activities and other interesting setups.