HALL OF FAME - Vintage Customs

RUBY HEART (1986) - Owned by Chris Nandell

This piece is extra-special to me because of the story and circumstances behind her creation and my possession of her. "Ruby Heart" was commissioned by my dear friend and mentor, the late Mr. Rich Rudisch. Rich is probably best known in the model horse community for sculpting the "Sham" and "Lady Roxanna" models for Breyer Animal Creations.

Rich was a life-long horseman, AHSA Judge and breeder and exhibitor of Arabian Horses. But most importantly , he was my friend and he was very instrumental in my career as an equine artsit. You see, I had NO support from my family. They all thought that my love for horses, especially MODEL horses was a "stupid waste of time", and I suffered a LOT of ridicule from them all of my young life. Rich came into my life when no one else believed in me, he shared my love for horses, validated my talent, and love for equine art and and encouraged me to continue to grow and develop as an artist. When he commissioned me to create "Ruby Heart" for him, I was just 26 years old. It was the highest honor of my artistic career!

Rich sent me illustrated notes, which I still have and cherish, as inspiration for the piece. But the most wonderful part about her was her NAME. I put my whole heart into creating this piece for Rich, and, unbeknownst to him, I had inserted a little red crystal heart inside of her hollow body to symbolize that. When she was finished, I called Rich on the telephone and told him that he needed to come up with great name for his new horse - that I had done with all of my heart. And we both said the name, "Ruby Heart" at the same time! It was almost scary!!!

Rich LOVED this little model and even showed her himself at the 1988 Western Regional Congress in Southern California! It was his intention to participate in the model horse hobby and to promote it to "real horse people" and the equine art community as a serious art form. However, this was not to be. Rich passed away in 1989 and I lost my dearest friend and "soul-mate" in this world. But because his family knew how much he wanted to be a part of the hobby, they insisted that "Ruby Heart", (and another piece he had purchased from me: "Classic Design"), be returned to me so that I could continue showing them *for* him, and keep his memory alive in the model horse community.

So Rich, my dear friend, know that I will always love you! And also know how proud and happy I am that I am still here, and still able to share the story of our "Ruby Heart" with the model horse community!

Panhandle Live, 2006 - 1980's CM's - Winner of Sarah M-B Medallion - NQ
Pinto World Model Horse Show, 2008 - 2nd CM/AR Hunter Type Mares - NQ

CLASSIC DESIGN (1987) - Owned by Chris Nandell

This little beauty is the body of a Breyer "Phar-Lap" that had the raised hind leg shortened in the gaskin. The head is from a Breyer "Buckshot". I originally did her for my personal show string, but my dear friend, Rich Rudish, grabbed her and insisted that I let him trade me something for her! I got her back along with "Ruby Heart" after Rich passsed away in 1989. She was a versitile show model, competing equally well under western or english tack.

Panhandle Live, 2006 - 1980's CM's - Winner of Sarah M-B Medallion - NQ
Pinto World Model Horse Show, 2008 - 1st CM/AR Hunter Type Mares - NQ
Pinto World Model Horse Show, 2008 - * Res. CHAMPION CM/AR Hunter Type Division!!!

TOBY-SHON (1986) - Owned by Chris Nandell

AKA: "Shawn", this model is a portrait of my *real* horse, a registered Appaloosa, by the same name. He was a grand-son of TOBY II - Foundation sire of the breed. I had known "Shawn" all of his life. Born dark GRULLA blanketed Appaloosa, he spent the first half of his life as a show horse. Then he was purchased by a man for a pleasure horse and when he was 18 years old, I finally got my hands on him! He was the most fun horse to ride I ever owned! Full of fire and always up for an adventure, I must have ridden him thousands of miles on trails - usually bareback. Those were some of the happiest days of my life! He had that wonderful "Indian Jog-trot" and a way of going that was both extremely comfortable and kept you right in his center of balance. It was like he had a built-in saddle!

This model looks *exactly* like him! From his almond shaped eyes, little "rat-tail" and sparse little mane, to his way of going - this model captures his very essence. "Shawn" had the most wonderful, funny personality and he enjoyed life! He lived to the ripe, old age of 28. Having the model keeps his memory alive and with me every day.

Panhandle Live, 2006 - 1980's CM's - Winner of Sarah M-B Medallion - NQ

COWBOY (1992) - Owned by Chris Nandell

"Cowboy" - aka: "Da-Fuzz", was my *first* pony! OK - so what if I was 30 years old at the time!? I saw him being led into the auction house andhe just had "the look". I knew I HAD to have him. I sat there until 2:00A.M. before they finally brought him through the ring. A few minutes later, he was MINE! This model looks *exactly* like my wonderful friend!

"Cowboy" (the model), was one of the best models on my show string. He is made from Breyer Classic "Merrylegs" body with a Classic "Swaps" head. One of these days, I hope to do an original sculpture, based on this little custom, and add it to my line of Artist Resins.

Panhandle Live, 2006 - 1980's CM's - Winner of Sarah M-B Medallion - NQ
Pinto World Model Horse Show, 2008 - 2nd CM/AR Pony Stallions/Geldings - NQ
Pinto World Model Horse Show, 2008 - Res. CHAMPION CM/AR Pony Division!!!
Buccaneer Live, 2008 - 2nd CM Other American Breed Ponies - NQ
Nebraska Model Horse Expo, 2009 - 1st CM Shetlands - NQ

POCO DOT (1991) - Owned by Irene Lynn Conrad

I'm afraid I can't submit any information regarding her champs/reserve winnings since I don't keep records anymore. I've got a halter photo of her that I switch periodically since I online show her with TOPSA an IMEHA. As for the history....she was owned at one time by Wenday Galbreth and then by my dearest friend Ann Bilon and she wound up giving her to me for my birthday present a few years ago. Then the year after that Ann gave me a Okie Rio resin done by Lisa Rivera as my birthday present that kind of matches the mare.

She was done in May of 1991 under your name of Chris Lapp. She's the CM LP into a chestnut leopard Appaloosa an I show her under the name of Poco Dot. She's also listed in the Model Horse Gallery under your name.

FORTUNE COOKIE (1995) - Owned by Chris Wallbrunch

Here is another vintage guy that you did...he is marked 1995 and I bought him from you at a live show. (I believe it was in Iowa) His name is "Fortune Cookie" and he is shown as a Walkaloosa.

BE SERIOUS (1992) Owned by Tara Oliver

Be Serious was one of my very first customs (my third, I think). I bought him in 1993 (the year I entered the hobby) from Brenda Metcalf, possibly at a live show. Be Serious was done in 1992 from a Breyer Secretariat and painted by Chris to a scrumptious grey with subtle dapples and an expressive face. I wish I had more pictures of Be Serious from his show days with his numerous winnings. He has won many first-second place ribbons as well as several halter championships. For a long time, I called Be Serious a her, since I somehow thought her a mare during my younger days. But now I am finally adjusting to calling her a him, as he is a fine little gelding.

I still show Be Serious occasionally, though since college, live-shows have been sparse. He holds his own in whatever classes I put him in, and still enjoys the occasional photo shows that I enter. I have gotten many compliments on him over the years. He is still in great condition and will be living with me for a long long time to come as one of my very favorite models!

CANDY (1977) Owned by Chris Nandell

I get a lot of eMail from a lot of beginners who tell me that they think they will never learn how to paint as well as I do. Well, I was a beginner once myself and recently, I purchased one of my OLD pieces, just to show everyone what my work looked like when I was just getting started. (Trust me - most people paint better than this in their first year!)

I was 17 years old, and still Chris FORDHAM at the time this piece was created. I had been painting models for TEN YEARS at this point in time! Please note the lack of any shading or highlights, the ROUGH texture and what's with those eyes??? I also painted her in vertical lines (top to bottom instead of following any sense of hair growth direction), and you can see through the paint *everywhere* on the body. To top it all off, I think the oil paint I used was straight out of the tube!

This was considered a *nice* piece in 1977 too!

Many thanks to Alicia Strayer-Mangan for taking such wonderful care of Candy for all of the many years she had her. And for giving me the opportunity to buy her back! If it had not been for all of her loving care, this piece of my history would have been lost!

MARQUIS (3/1984) Owned by Diane Keiter

I have one of your older customs from the 80's. A buckskin paint Yellow Mount mold that I showed under the name Marquis. He is signed Chris Cook.

I went to Mom's today and found Marquis' liberty halter photo. I pulled him out, and he is still in perfect condition, and he is dated 3/84!! 26 years old!!

INDIAN MUSIC (1992) Owned by Sabine Nusch

A simple Customized "Adios" in Bay Tobiano Pinto with a haired mane and tail that I did in the 1980's. He was a cherished part of my show string way back "in the day" and is now a cherished part of Sabines' show string and lives in Germany.

CAT BAR (9/24/83) - Owned by Sue Young

I got Cat Bar just after college in the early 80s, back when custom model horses were bought off sales pages that arrived by mail. She was my finest show horse and won many times during the years that I showed (1983-- c.1995), including a Grand Champion of Show. She is my only, and one of the few, open-mouth model horses; and she's the star of a page on my website about the creation of her bridle. I added leather shoes. For a bit of model trivia: this horse was present at my wedding in 1988. She was featured in a model horse calendar in the 1990s. I have loved her all this time, marvelling at the durability of the coat and the artistry of the markings. In the 2000s I showed her a few times in MAR's Vintage Custom classes, and always got remarks on how well she had stood up. I will always treasure her.

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Vintage Customs 

©2015 Chris Nandell