Whether you’re looking for a unique entry for a live model horse show or photo show, or simply a fun scene to enjoy in your home, a winter theme offers endless options! It's easy to create a chilly atmosphere for your models, even if you don't live in a part of the world where it snows.
Inspiration: Winter on the Farm
Crisp autumn air gives way to colder days. The last of the lovely golden and crimson leaves have blown away. In some parts of the country, rain ushers in winter. In others, snowflakes herald its beginning.
Life on a farm is tied closely to the seasons. As autumn rolls around, farmers and ranchers are weaning their calves and foals, storing their machinery, and preparing their land for winter. Winter is a relatively restful time on the farm, as adverse weather often prohibits much outdoor work. It’s a good time to catch up on record keeping, leather repairs and machinery maintenance.
Farmers must keep a close watch on livestock during the season. When it is cold, animals need to eat more to maintain their body heat, so providing plenty of forage is essential. Farmers must also be sure buckets and troughs aren’t iced over, and that weather conditions are not threatening the wellbeing of the animals.
Setting the Scene
When creating a snow scene, there are several options for footing. If you live in a snowy area, you can take pictures in the real thing! However, you may not wish to risk taking your models outside.
The cleanest, simplest artificial footing is cotton quilt batting. Since it’s one piece, it’s easy and quick to spread out. Some models don’t stand on it very well, but this can be remedied by cutting a tiny hole or slit in the batting for each foot of the model to pass through.
Decorative flaked snow is also a good choice. It’s easy to spread and gives a fluffy, textured look. It tends to cling to items and is easily blown around, so cleanup takes a bit longer. You may also choose to sculpt a permanent snowy diorama base.
The ponies just discovered a snowman near the frozen pond.
The next consideration for your photos is the background. Again, you may have a real snowy area to use as your studio. If not, try a photo poster or a painting. Holiday cards are good to use as inspiration. Google image searches will also turn up some great background ideas.
You may want to decorate your scene with a snowman figurine, artificial trees, fences or other in-scale props. A Breyer barn also makes a great setting for a winter scene. A wreath on each stall door and a string of tiny lights will set a festive mood in your stables!
Some scenes don’t need dolls. A frozen pond adds to the wintery feel of the above liberty scene with two ponies. They’re curious and alert as they approach a snowman they’ve just discovered.
A Time to Work... and to Play!
Many working scenes lend themselves well to “other performance” entries. A typical winter farm or ranch chore is feeding cattle in a pasture, perhaps with a draft horse pulling the hay sled. One of my setups shows the horse standing quietly as one of the men unloads hay bales. The other depicts a feeding scene where the horse is outside the frame of the picture. Other winter activities include herding animals from one pasture to another, checking fences on horseback, and rescuing stray or injured animals.
Frank unloads hay bales for the cattle while his brother holds the horse.
Not all scenes require a horse.
There’s always time for fun, too. It may be as simple as climbing on bareback for a ride through the snow, or as glamorous as a sleigh ride to Grandmother’s house.
Sledding downhill is a blast, but dragging the sled back uphill is, well, a drag. A fun alternative is to tie a rope to the sled and have a horse and rider pull you around! For safety, my sled rider wears a helmet and the rope is only wrapped around the horn – not tied – and held by the rider’s hand. The family dog runs alongside the sled.
Sledding behind a horse is especially fun!
As the holiday season nears, it’s time to go to the forest and choose the perfect tree. Using a lasso, the horse and rider drag it back through the snow to the house. The cowboy stays warm in his fur-trimmed jacket and scarf. A calm, steady Breyer model like the Indian Pony mold is well-suited to this task.
For some country folks, bringing in the Christmas tree on horseback is a tradition.
You can also capture the magic of every little girl’s dream of wanting a pony for Christmas. In my scene, Cindy is still wearing her robe on Christmas morning as she finds her new pony in the barnyard. She’s all smiles as she gets acquainted with her new friend and offers her carrots.
What better gift than a pony?
Winter snows can transform a landscape into a magical wonderland. With a little imagination, you can create your own miniature wonderland for your model horses, no matter the weather outside!