British Equine Collectors' Forum

For All British Model Horse Collectors

Going to a Live Show

Attending Live shows is one of the most enjoyable aspects of our hobby, and if you have never been to one, we recommend that you give it a try!  

Meeting other collectors and seeing their models will give you a much broader view of the hobby and could be the start of some long lasting friendships. 

However, going to your first live show can be a little frightening if you don't know what to expect, and so this guide sheet is designed to ease you through the trauma as gently as possible!

Entering the show

There you are -the live show schedule has appeared in the latest edition of your magazine, and you're itching to go.  But do stop and ask yourself  'can I really make it'? Both you and the show-holder will be very disappointed if you enter, only to pull out at the last minute because you haven't thought out the details properly.  The main point to consider is transport: do you have the means of getting there?  Car travel is probably the most convenient, and if you don't drive perhaps an obliging friend, relation or nearby collector will take you there, but do ask in good time. Bear in mind that if several of you are travelling together there will be limited space for each of you to pack your models in, so don't hog it all.  Also remember that you will be expected to pay your share of petrol costs - so take enough spare cash!

Travelling by bus or train is possible, but again you will need to limit your entries to what you can comfortably carry.  Check out the timetables to see that you can arrive/leave at suitable times, and if necessary confirm with the show-holder that it will be all right for you to be picked up from the station, don't just assume it!

When writing out your entries, take note of all the regulations on the show schedule, and send your entries in in good time (if required), together with the entry fee. Try not to enter too many ridden/performance classes, especially if some of your models share tack and riders, as you'll only get flustered trying to change tack over in a hurry.  Do remember to make notes for yourself of all the horses you've entered, their classes and what tack/riders/equipment they will each need for each one.

Going to the Show

The weekend before the show is a good time to check your models over for scratches, cracks, etc., (leave any broken or marked models at home, they will probable not do very well at the show and just be extra  items you'll have to carry!!) and also give them a good 'grooming'.  China horses always benefit from one careful wash a year in warm water (not hot) to spruce up their colour and gloss, but certainly you should dust all the models you intend to take to the show.  A dusty, neglected looking model - just like a muddy, ungroomed real horse - will not place so well as a smartly turned-out rival.  Dust can be removed from hair mane and tails by careful use of a feather or filament duster, or alternatively by a hairdryer set to its coolest setting.  Hair manes may also need to be laid flat by wrapping against the neck with damp tissue or kitchen paper, which is left to dry hard and then carefully peeled off.  This will ensure a flat and tidy mane, but check first to make sure damp will not damage the model's paintwork, and only use plain white tissue - never use coloured or patterned ones.  An extra strip of damp tissue placed between the mane and the neck will also guard against dye from the hair marking the model. A good mane & tail 'brush' is a old clean toothbrush, but use gently or all the hair will come un-glued!

Pack up all your models a day or two before the show, giving yourself plenty of time.  Do take care when packing models - there's nothing worse than arriving only to find that your favourite horse has been broken or scratched in transit.  Use more packing rather than less if in doubt.  The best way to pack is to place each model first in a clean plastic bag; this will help to prevent its finish being scratched, and is necessary for most things except OF Chinas. After this, Breyers etc. can be packed into boxes (Breyer boxes are fine for this although not for sending models through the post), use plenty of bubblewrap, pony pouches, tissue paper, (or newspaper if you're desperate and the models are well wrapped in plastic first - newspaper is not recommended for use directly next to a model, as the print may mark paintwork).  If you don't have boxes big enough for your Traditional size models they can stand up in a plastic or cardboard box, provided they're well covered in bubblewrap.  China models travel very well in large boxes full of polystyrene chips, just don't put too many models in one box or too close to the sides. Foam is by far the best way to transport china or fragile models. Leave at least 2"-3" around the sides and 1"-2" between the models.

Most shows hold the Ridden classes first so that you can transport your models tacked up and save time on the day, so do take advantage of this if possible.  If your stirrup irons may scratch the model, run them up the leathers as you would on a real saddle, or else leave the saddle off: they generally don't take as much time to put on as bridles anyway.  Make sure you have packed all the necessary tack, riders, obstacles, etc., plus Blu-tak or sticky wax for attaching bits and a comb or brush so you can spruce up manes and tails before your model goes in the ring. 

It is also useful to take a notepad and pen to write down your results if there isn't to be a catalogue, a cloth for your table, and money, in case you want to buy raffle tickets or models for sale. You may also need to take a packed lunch: some shows do provide food, or will have shops and takeaways nearby.  Hot and cold drinks are usually provided, although it can be as well to bring your own, just in case.  (It's no fun arriving at a show after an early start and a long drive, only to find there are no coffee or tea making facilities!)  Don't forget to bring a cup and any cutlery you may need, just to be on the safe side!  When you're all ready, retire to bed early as you'll need to allow yourself plenty of time to get there in the morning.  It's better not to be in a rush if you can avoid it.

When you get there

Always say hello to other showers - even if you're dreadfully shy - but do so quickly, so that you have time to find your table and get yourself sorted out.  When unpacking your models, try to use only the space allocated to you by the show-holder, don't spread into someone else's area if you can help it.  If there isn't much room you may prefer to leave some models in their packing until it's time for their class, provided the boxes aren't in the way; you might also prefer to do this with the precious ones rather than trusting them to what may be a wobbly table!  If you are a little late, try to get your models ready for the first couple of classes so that you don't hold the show up.


Keep your ears open to the show-holder or steward so that your models are in the right ring at the right time, wearing the right tag if tags are being used.  While the judging is going on, you can chat with your friends, prepare models for later classes, or if you're really nervous, wait outside!
Whatever you do, don't sit and stare at the person judging the class, as it can be extremely off-putting! Try to be prompt in removing your models from the ring once the class has ended, -  and don't forget to write the name of any of your models that placed onto the results sheet - there is nothing more annoying to a showholder than trying to find out what came 2nd in a class when they are trying to write up the results to send out after the show, when the results are not written down on the day !!

Now, how have you actually done in the class?  If you've won or placed there's no harm in looking pleased - if you don't people might wonder why you bother showing!  However, loud gloating will only get people's backs up, so show a little discretion.  If you don't place, try to accept it gracefully, difficult though it may be.  Either your model was placed as it deserved, in which case complaining will only make you look foolish, or it did deserve better, in which case it will certainly get its recognition another day.  Arguments or whinges will only make things unpleasant for the show-holder and other exhibitors.  Most judges don't mind explaining how they placed a class, as long as you phrase your question so it doesn't sound like a complaint.  This can be especially useful in ridden, performance or turn-out classes, as you may pick up some valuable tips which will help you do better next time.  However, don't approach them if they are obviously busy judging another class, or preparing so show their own models - judges are only human and may be impatient with you.


This is one of the best things about going to a live show, so try not to sit shrinking in your corner all day, but do go round and meet people.  This can be a bit intimidating, especially at shows in hired halls where everyone tends to stay behind their well-spread-out tables, but do take the plunge!  Don't be afraid to ask people's names, and to ask again if you forget!  The easiest way to get into conversation is probably to look at and ask about other people's models; most will be only too happy to talk about them, and the great thing about live shows is that you  get to see so many different models.  However, never pick up someone else's model without asking them first: just think how you would feel if you dropped or damaged it. 
This applies when you're judging as well as just looking round.

If asked to judge?

Nowadays many show-holders try to get experienced judges, so if it's your first show you probably won't be asked to judge. If you are, and you don't know much about the breed or class involved, don't be afraid to say so and ask if someone else could do it instead or if you could do it jointly with someone more experienced (this is a good way to learn).  If there really is no one else, go ahead and do your best; people will be tolerant if they know it's your first time, and no one will actually eat you!


If there's enough space, it can help to start packing your models away before the end of the show, as you won't have such a rush at the last minute.  Remember though, any which have been placed first or second could well be needed for championships at the end, so keep them accessible.

When you're leaving, don't forget to thank the show-holder, and anyone else who's helped (e.g. stewards, anyone who's prepared food, etc.) for their hard work. It is particularly important to thank the show-holder, even if you feel some of your models might have been hard done by - good manners cost nothing, and you can always have a private moan to your friend about it one the way home!  Remember to make sure you've taken all your belongings with you and left everything tidy. Show Holders will also be very grateful of any help you can offer in clearing and tidying the hall away after the show.

Whatever else you may forget, there's one thing above all to remember about live shows - they're great fun!

Here is a list of 'Live Show Essentials' to take with you when going to a Live Show:  

  • Comfy Shoes ... it's going to be a long day!
  • Pens/Pencils
  • Notebook/Paper/Clipboard
  • Scissors/Pliers/Sellotape/Glue
  • Black/white and brown paint, and paint brush for emergency 'touch ups'
  • Tacky Wax (or Blue Tack)
  • Extra Bubble Wrap
  • A copy of the Live Show Schedule and Map if needed
  • Soft Duster or Large Blusher Brush (to flick away any stray dust once your model is on the table prior to judging)
  • Table cloth or cover for your 'stable' table
  • Lunch/DrinksSnacks (unless provided)
  • Money/cheque book
  • Camera and spare batteries. Phone and charger.
  • Any sales items you have (plus any BMECs cards and any other items (eg Photos) to go with the sales models)
  • Documentation for unusual breeds/colours (no large than 1 side of A4 is standard)
  • A Good Breed book in case you need to check any details