Not all people who love horses can ever hope to own one. Horses are expensive, need lots of attention and lots of space. For many horseless horse lovers, collecting or showing horse figurines is the next best thing to owning a horse.
Showing model horses make a huge hobby in the United States. Models are exhibited in classes to make them look like the real thing. There are live shows where owners bring their models and exhibits in person and photo shows where only photos of the model, tack and riders need to be sent to the show area. Here are the most popular brands of horse figurines in North America and the UK.
9 All-Time Brands of Horse Figurines with Highly Collected Iems
1. Breyer Model Horses
Breyer Animal Creations is one of the oldest and most easily available model horse brands on both sides of the Atlantic. The first horse model was made for a clock in 1950. Demand for the horse clock was so great that the company stopped molding other items and concentrated on model animals.
They are made of cellulose acetate, a kind of tough plastic. The models are airbrushed and detailed by hand. Mostly they are realistic, but some are made in fantasy colors.
The next most popular collectable brand of horse figurines is Hagen-Renakers or HRs. Like Breyer, this is an American company. It produces a wide variety of collectable items in ceramic, including horses of many sizes. Breyer even paid to use some HR molds until the 1990s.
Horses and ponies come also vary in realism as well as size. Horses the size of Breyers are much harder to find and are extremely expensive. The smaller models have their own quirky charm and can be shown in live and photo model horse shows.
3. Stone Horses
Peter Stone worked for Breyer for many years and then decided about 1994 to start his own model horse company. His horse figurines are also made of cellulose acetate and airbrushed with hand-painted details. Peter Stone hired top artist in the model horse hobby to make sure the models are realistic as possible.
They are harder to find than Breyers and more expensive. Specific colors are only available for a limited time to ensure their collectability and value. Since recently, customers can pay to have a model done to order. Customers choose from Stone Horse molds and ask for specific colors, patterns and details for a one-of-a-kind model.
4. Royal Doulton
These are sometimes known as Beswicks, since the best of the horse figurines put out by Royal Daulton are in the Beswick line. Beswick is a venerable English company that began in 1894. They made their name with stunningly beautiful vases and china ware. They branched into figurines, including horses and ponies, in 1939.
Beswick was then bought in the 1960s by an even more prestigious ceramic and china company, Royal Daulton. They are fragile but exquisite. They are also very expensive.
This American company used to also use cellulose acetate for their horse models. They also made a range of horses with riders which are highly collectable and nearly impossible to find. The detail of Hartland horses ranged from stunning to adequate.
The company could never compete against Breyer, Hagen-Renaker and later Stone Horses. It went out of business in 1994 due to damage from flooding. An attempt to restart the company was made in 2001 but in 2008 they gave up.
6. North Light
These beautiful pony and horse figurines are made of resin and so are fragile. Some bronzes were made as well. The company started in England in 1978 with dog models. When they added horses to their line-up, they become very popular with model horse collectors and the more serious showers.
Sadly, the company went out of business in 2009. North Lights can only be purchased from other collectors or from websites like eBay.
7. Julip Horses
These make a line of horse figurines originally meant to be toys. This means they are very sturdy but are lacking in realistic detail or coloring. They are often more affordable than other model horse brands, including Breyer.
The first sculptor, Lavender Dower, began in 1945 making horses from leather and lead. Later, all models were made of much lighter but still sturdy latex when lead toys were banned. Although latex makes them tough, they are prone to melting in high heat. In 1989, plastic horses were introduced although latex toy models are still made.
8. Artist Resins
These are not a specific brand but are made by the artists themselves. They became popular in the 1990s with the rise of the Internet. When North Light went out of business, their customers went to find specific artists to purchase more resin horse figurines. These are extremely detailed pieces of artwork.
They can be hand-painted to specification, sold unpainted or painted using the artist’s choice of colors. Usually, they have only a limited run. They also clean up the ribbons and trophies in model horse shows. These are the most expensive of the kinds of collectable horse figurines available. Some artist resins became so popular that the artists were hired by Breyer or Sam Stone to make molds for their companies.
9. Border Fine Arts
Also known as BFA, this highly esteemed Scottish ceramic and porcelain company did a wide variety of pieces of which horses only made up a small portion. Horses were sold as single pieces without any tack or riders but also made up complicated figurines such as a horse pulling a wagon through the countryside.
The English company began in 1974 and went out of business in 2016. This makes the highly detailed and fragile pieces of equine art very expensive to purchase. Their prices are expected to continue to rise.
So, now you’ve learned more of 9 of the most popular brands of horse figurines. You can decide to buy a new one, or decide to purchase a rare item from a collector. Either way, you will enjoy a tiny piece of art.
Do you own a horse figurine? Tell us the story of your tiny horse, and characteristics.
The images are from pixabay.com.