'HORSE BIOS - G-O

Gem Twist, the handsome grey Thoroughbred gelding, is regarded as one the greatest show-jumping horses in history.  He is the only horse to have won the American Grand Prix Assocation Horse of the Year Award three times.  He may also be the first gelding to sire several offspring... by cloning! 

Registered originally as Icey Twist, Gem Twist was born a sorrel with a star and one front sock, but quickly greyed out into the eye-catching color we all know.  In his debut year jumping Grand Prix he won his first Horse of the Year award, and never looked back.  He also helped win Team Silver at the Pan Am Games that year, then went on to bring home two silver medals at the 1988 Olympics.  In 1990, he was named "World's Best Horse" at the World Equestrian Games in Stockholm.  He took three different riders to championships, and retired a champion in 1997.  He was inducted into the United States Show Jumping Hall of Fame in 2002.  Gem passed away in 2006, at the age of twenty-seven.

Gem Twist
[Gem Twist at WEG 1990, with Greg Best aboard; Photo Credit horsemagazine.com]

 

Despite being a gelding, his first foal arrived on September15, 2008.  The foal, and several others born since, are clones of Gem Twist.  It appears all were born sorrels with a white star and a single front sock, and have begun to grey out, true to their sire's color.  It is hoped that they will carry on his magnificent bloodlines.  The first foal, called Gemini, is owned by the Chapot family of New Jersey, owners of Gem Twist.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Chapot rode in the Olympics, with Frank campaigning on Gem Twist's sire Good Twist, so they had a sentimental reason for cloning the big grey:  "It was something I could give to my daughter," he said.  So, will Gemini become a great jumper?  He won't be competed, just stood at stud, but he definitely has the spark:  At ten months old, he escaped his pasture by jumping a 3-foot, nine-inch fence!  Two younger siblings called Anytime and Timeless, born in 2012, are being trained for the show ring, so watch for them to become future champions!

Breyer honored Gem Twist with his own portrait sculpture in 1993, depicting him cantering lightly between fences, ears pricked.

Gifted was purchased by Carol Lavell as an untrained four-year-old.  She obviously had a good eye, as under her tutelage, he quickly rose through the levels in the dressage world.  The huge, 17.1- (some say 17.3-) hand Hanoverian with the high socks and blaze was foaled in 1980, and by 1988 was named US Dressage Federation Horse of the Year for Fourth Level and Grand Prix St. Georges levels.  With the United States in a twelve-year dry spell for international Dressage medals, it is said that Gifted put the US back on the radar, helping bring home Team Bronze twice.  He remained Carol's companion his entire life.

 Gifted with Carol Lavell aboard
[Gifted with Carol Lavell aboard]
Breyer honored Gifted with this hand-numbered Limited Edition portrait model in 1994.  Only 9,000 were made.
The Gypsy King was one of those rare horses whose name starts with "The" for a reason.  Truly a king among Gypsy Vanners, this handsome black and white pinto is the reason so many of us fell in love with the breed.  He was huge, powerfully built, strikingly marked, and wore the heavy mane, tail and feathering that's the breed's trademark.  Although he passed away in 2015, he has left his indelible mark on the Gypsy Horse breed with over 90 offspring.
The Gypsy King; photo credit vannerscentral.com
[The Gypsy King; photo credit vannerscentral.com]
Breyer honored The Gypsy King with a portrait model on the Friesian mold in 2007.  This release was discontinued in 2007.

Halla, a German-bred mare from Standardbred bloodlines, holds the World Record for the most Gold Medals (five) by a single horse!  While training to be a steeplechaser, her talent caught the attention of the Olympic Team trainer, and she began her rise to stardom.  Too difficult to handle on cross-country courses, she became unbeatable as a stadium jumper.  She and her rider went on to win 125 competitions together before she was retired to become a broodmare.  Halla lived a good long life, enjoying the sunshine into her 34th year, and proving beyond a doubt that trotting-horses can compete in more than just trotting races!

Breyer had Chris Hess sculpt a tribute model to this famous athlete in 1977.  Her model was discontinued in 1985.

Halla

Halla and Winkler make this Olympic jump look easy, 1958.  [Photo credit: IOC Olympic Museum Collections]

This adorable release on the Brighty mold is a portrait of Hickory Hills Wall Street, a young champion Miniature Donkey with a bright future ahead of him! This cutie was born in 2013 and already has several championships under his belt. He displays primitive markings, including a bold Mary's Cross and leg barring all the way to his fetlocks.  Here's the real Wall Street all clipped for a show:

Hickory Hills Wall Street
[Photo Credit: http://www.hickoryhilldonkeyfarm.com]

 

Hickstead was a handsome bay Dutch Warmblood stallion who earned the title "Best Horse in the World" in Show Jumping.  The title was earned after he completed an extremely rare four clear rounds with four different riders at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games in 2010.  (In this unique format event, the four highest-scoring horses swap riders.)  With his regular rider Eric Lamaze, he brought an Individual Gold Medal home to Canada from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and led the team to a Team Silver Medal.  His was the first individual Gold Medal in Equestrian ever won by Canada, making him and Eric household names there.  Hickstead tragically passed away in 2011 of an aortic rupture as he completed the final fence in an Italian competition. 

A life-sized bronze, created by ArtWorks Foundry, is now on permanent display at Spruce Meadows in Calgary, Canada, in his memory.  A plaque on the base says "Love Always ~ Hickstead."

Hickstead
[Hickstead and Eric Lamaze. Photo credit: horse and Country TV]
Hickstead
[Hickstead and Eric Lamaze. Photo credit: Model Horse Club of Canada]

QVC honored Hickestead early in his career with a portrait model on the Big Ben mold in 2002.  It was only available for a short time through their television shopping channel.  He is a glossy bay with a blaze, and wears two hind socks.

 

Hidalgo (the name is a Spanish term for minor nobility) was the name of a Mustang owned by Frank Hopkins, who was part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and claimed to be the greatest distance-rider on Earth.  Disney's 2004 movie Hidalgo honored the legend that Frank and Hidalgo participated in a grueling long-distance race across the Saudi Arabian peninsula, facing ethnic disparagement against both him and his horse, and having many adventures along the way.  After returning to America, Hopkins became an outspoken supporter of Mustangs.  In the movie, Hopkins was portrayed by Viggo Mortensen and Hidalgo was played by the Paint horse TJ.  Viggo, well-known as a horse lover, purchased TJ after filming was complete, and even rode into movie premiers on the handsome sorrel pinto.

Paint Horse TJ with Viggo Mortensen at Hidalgo Movie Premier

[TJ and Viggo Mortensen at Hidalgo movie premier]

Breyer produced an entire Hidalgo product line for the film's release.  The Silver mold was a lovely choice for the Traditional-sized Hidalgo, and while it was only produced from 2004-2006, it remains popular today.

 

Jet Run was a Maryland-bred Thoroughbred who proved successful as a hunter-jumper from a young age.  After making quite an impression at age 6, he was purchased by Mexico and competed there, taking home Individual Gold and Team Silver for that country in the 1975 Pan-American Games before being purchased and brought back to the US to continue his career under rider Michael Matz.  With Matz's guidance, he took the Individual Gold and helped the US Team win Team Gold at the Puerto Rico Pan-American Games in 1979. Among his many other accomplishments, he also won the American Gold Cup twice, making it look effortless, as in the photo below. 

Jet Run with Michael Matz aboard
[Jet Run with Michael Matz aboard.  Photo credit: www.proequest.com]

 

The black Standardbred stallion Joe Patchen, sire of famous racehorse Dan Patch, was himself famous in his day.  He was unusually tall and long-legged for a Standardbred, but it seemed to be to his advantage.  Foaled in 1889, he won 53% of his starts and placed second in 39% more.  He set the World Record for a half-mile track in 1896 at 2:05 1/4, a record that stood for seven years until it was broken by his own son Dan Patch.

Joe Patchen
[Joe Patchen.  Photo credit: www.mi-harness.net]

 

Breyer's tribute model came out in 1991 and was discontinued in 1993.  It shows off his black coat, star and stripe, and four socks.

John Henry is a legend among racehorses.  Named for legendary steel-driving man who raced machinery and won, John Henry lived up to the hype.  Small in stature, unremarkable in breeding, and with an attitude that got him gelded at an early age, John Henry's is a Cinderella story for the ages.  He sold at auction for merely $1,100, but went on to become the richest Thoroughbred of his time.  With the right care and training, he proved that talent outweighs breeding, winning 30 stakes races, 7 Eclipse Awards, and being voted Horse of the Year twice.  Anyone who ever met him (and I count myself lucky enough to be among them) will never forget this tough little race horse.  John Henry enjoyed a long retirement at Kentucky Horse Park with lots of care and attention until he passed peacefully at age 32.  Still, his legend lives on.

There's a wonderful article about John Henry's daily adventures in retirement at Kentucky Horse Farm here:

http://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/40231/hoofing-it-with-john-henry

John Henry
[Photo Credit:  Bob Coglianese]
Breyer's tribute model, sculpted by Jeanne Mellin Herrick, depicts him at ease, enjoying a relaxing walk, with ears pricked and eyes bright.

 Size:  Traditional

Breyer Model #445

 

Justin Morgan, father of the Morgan Horse breed and star of the Marguerite Henry book of the same name, was a little bay horse that made a big impression wherever he went.  Owned by a traveling school teacher, he became locally famous for being able to work hard all day and win races at night.  He could pull more weight than horses bigger than him and his high-headed, high-stepping charisma wowed all who saw him.  Breyer honored him with this Chris Hess sculpt in 1977.  He was discontinued in 1989.

 

Keen, a handsome 17.1-hand sorrel gelding, helped the US win Team Bronze in Dressage at the Montreal Olympics, Individual Gold in the Pan-Am Games in Puerto Rico, and then Individual Silver when the Pan-Am Games came to Mexico City, along with the US National Dressage Championship an amazing four times!  he was inducted into the US Dressage Federation hall of Fame in 1997.

Dressage Chamion Ken with Linda Gurney aboard
[Keen performing with Linda Gurney aboard. Photo credit: www.usdf.org]

Kelso is one of the top-ranked US Thoroughbred race horses of all time, and beat more champions and Hall of Famers than any other horse in the 20th Century!  He was born at Claiborne Farms in Kentucky in 1957, and because of his temperment, was gelded young (didn't help, according to sources),  which is why he isn't as well-known today as he would have been if he'd gone to stud. 

At age three, Kelso broke the record for a mile race for horses of that age, and equaled Man O' War's record time for 1-5/8 mile.  He raced for an impressive 8 seasons, then took on a second career as a hunter / jumper.  His final public appearance was in the parade before the Jockey Gold Cup Race at Belmont Park in 1983, at age 26.  He passed away the next day, hopefully with the crowd's cheers still in his memory.

Breyer's mold captures a quality Kelso was known for: being light on his feet.  His trainer once said he "could wheel on a dime, spinning round in a circle and never letting his feet touch each other."  He is a coffee bay with one hind sock and a solid face. 

 

Kennebec Count was a magnificent horse.  There's a quality that a few horses have - Man O' War's owner called it "the look of eagles."  They know they're great, and seem like kings looking out over their adoring public.  Count was one of those very special horses.  He was a stunning sorrel Morgan stallion with a flaxen mane and tail, and with his son Kennebec Russel, was a three-time National Pairs Combined Driving Champion.  Eleda had the privilege of meeting Count and Russell at their home and says they were the only horses, other than Friesians, that moved her to tears just to look at them.  They were handsome beyond words, with their long, golden manes and forelocks, and even in their stalls, "You couldn't help feeling you were looking at royalty."

Kennebec Count 1993-credit morganhorseabout
[Kennebec Count, with owner Margaret Gardiner aboard; photo credit morganhorseabout.com]

 

Breyer honored Kennebec Count with this release in 2005.  It was disco'd in his color in 2007.

 

This handsome bay pinto on the Mustang mold is a portrait of Kola, owned by well-known horse trainer and clinician GaWaNi Pony Boy.  Pony Boy taught the importance of relationships when training horses, and was a special guest at Breyerfest 1998 along with Kola.  They are pictured here doing a demo at Breyerfest:

GaWaNi Pony Boy and Kola at Breyerfest 1998

[Photo credit J. Kira Hamilton, edited by Eleda Towle]

Breyer's tribute model Kola wearing the "war paint" he was often decorated with for their performances.  It was only available from 1999-2002.

 

Kripton Seni II is a star in the Andalusian world, racking up title after title, and earning fans everywhere he goes, including Breyerfest.  Born in 2000, Joe and Nancy Latta purchased him as a young stallion in Spain and brought him to the US.  In Joe's first time handling a horse in a halter class, they came away with a Reserve, and from then on, they never looked back. Not just a pretty face, Kripton performs in Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat, and Dressage Hack, showing what an all-around athlete he is.  At the 2009 International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association's Nationals, competing against horses from around the world, he came away with the Overall High-Point Andalusian title and was named Horse of the Year by the organization.

 Andalusian Stallion Kripton Seni II
[Kripton Seni II, photo credit http://www.horsestarshalloffame.org]

 

 

Lady Phase, a beautiful copper chestnut mare, was the very first AQHA World Champion in Halter.  She was bred and owned by famous country singer Lynn Anderson, who was a renowned Quarter and Paint Horse breeder, as well as being an all-around kind person.  Lynn often volunteered for charity, helped found the Special Riders Program in Tennessee that brought children with physical and mental challenges to horses, and was active in getting riding events approved for the Special Olympics.  As a matter of fact, another of her horses Skipsters Chief, was also immortalized by Breyer as a poster horse for handicapped riding programs.

From breyerhorses.com:

In 1976, Breyer asked Anderson if they could create a portrait model of her horse Lady Phase. Chris Hess and Peter Stone, then head of marketing and product development for Breyer, visited Anderson and Lady Phase for a photo shoot near Nashville. She worked very closely with our model makers to create the perfect sculpt to capture Lady Phase's character and muscle detail. When the model was complete, Lady Phase was released as a Traditional size model, which was also available in a play set. In addition, Anderson was featured in a 1976 issue of Just About Horses (JAH). She even worked with Breyer to create a "little book" called "I've Always Loved Horses," which included her journey with Lady Phase and her other horses, as well as advice about owning your own horse.

Lynn Anderson and Lady Phase from breyerhorses.com  Lynn Anderson with original Lady Phase sculpture from breyerhorses.com

[Above:  Lady Phase and Lynn Anderson pictured on the cover of the book they wrote with Breyer's backing, and Lynn appreciating the original Lady Phase sculpture created by Chris Hess.  Photo credits: breyerhorses.com]

Breyer's tribute model of Lady Phase was designed to represent "The Perfect Quarter Horse."  It was released in 1976 and ran through 1985.

 

Legionario III was one of the most influential sires in the breed in the 20th Century.  He was a pure Carthusian Andalusian and the Spanish National Champion in 1969.  With his presence, conformation, and color, he was a showstopper, and his progeny continue win championships all over the world.

Breyer produced his tribute mold in 1979 and it ran through 1990.

Champion Welsh Cob Llanarth True Briton was honored with a Breyer tribute model in 1994.  Born in 1976, the dark sorrel with three socks and a star, known around the barn as "Tubby," has become one of the breed's leading sires.  This release was discontinued in 1996.

Llanarth True Briton courtesy welshcobs.info

[Llanarth True Briton in the show ring. Photo credit welshcobs.info]

Few horse names evoke so much admiration as does the name Man O' War.  Foaled in 1917 and named for submarine that debuted for the Great War, this 16.2-hand, copper chestnut with a little round star and faint stripe became the great racehorse the world has known, according to many sources.  His owner, Samuel Riddle, who was new to racing, took great care of his star colt, not allowing him to race in the Kentucky Derby because he believed it was too early in a horse's life for him to run that distance.  He handily won the Preakness and Belmont, though, and then beat the one-year-older Triple Crown Winner Sir Barton in a match race by 7 lengths, leading the whole way.

Riddle retired Man O' War after that race, refusing to put him through carrying the huge weights handicappers insisted he'd have to carry to make the race fair to bettors.  Instead, he brought the four-year-old to stud, where he became the most prolific sire of Thoroughbred champions in history.  With the care of Mr. Riddle and the superb grooms he hired, Man O' War lived to be 30 years old.  Riddle commissioned a life-sized statue of him to stand over his grave, and after Riddle's death, the property that included Man O' War's (and his son War Admiral's) graves was donated to the city of Lexington to become a park.  In the early 1970s, the horses were re-interred at the newly developed Kentucky Horse Park, where you can visit them today.

Man O' War
There are several racing images of Man O' War, but this photo best represents his feisty personality!

 

Breyer's Chris Hess sculpted Man O' War as he appeared at stud - Rugged and heavily muscled.  This release ran from 1967-1995, showing how popular the stallion remained (and still remains) after his passing. 

 

The gorgeous Gypsy Drum Horse stallion Mariah's Boon was honored as the Celebration Model for Breyerfest 2012 with this portrait on the Othello mold.  This big guy is as lucky as he is handsome.  After a show as a youngster, he began running a fever.  His owner Laura Moon brought him to the University of Florida, where it was discovered he had developed a basketball-sized abcess in his stomach! 

He required two surgeries and a portal with catheter to be installed from his stomach out through his skin to allow the abcess to drain.  Laura tended him devotedly, flushing the catheter twice a day...  Then one day, small pieces of metal began washing out of the catheter - The cause of his illness had been discovered!  Probably bits of metal wire had gotten mixed into the hay at the show and after being ingested, had worked their way into the wall of his stomach.  Without the care of the vets at UF and his loving owner, Boon almost certainly wouldn't have made it.  But here he is today, a glorious representative of the Gypsy Drum Horse and one of the most handsome Celebration Models Breyer has produced!

Mariahs Boon Gypsy Drum Horse
[Mariah's Boon enjoying the sunshine in his paddock - Photo credit: drumhorseassociation.com]

Maynard's Miss Sheba is the gold standard of mules - Having won pretty much every championship open to her!  With skills ranging from halter to Western Pleasure, Dressage, Sidesaddle, Trail and even more, she's more than just a pretty face.

Maynards Miss Sheba w Julie Kennedy
Maynard's Miss Sheba, ridden by Julie Kennedy; photo credit birtarena.com

 

Breyer honored Sheba with a portrait model from 2003-2005.  On the Brown Sunshine mold, she wears Sheba's buckskin (or dun) coat with her Mary's Cross marking and leg barring.

Midnight Sun was a leading sire of Tennessee Walking Horses and a two-time World Champion in his own right. In fact, only four horses outside of his bloodline have become World Champions since 1949!  He was born in 1940 and stood just under 16 hands high.  He was originally called Joe Lewis Wilson, but changed to the catchier name Midnight Sun, assumably because of his solid black color and "sunny" disposition.  He was such a calm fellow that children were often given bareback rides on him so they could say they'd ridden a two-time World Grand Champion.  He enjoyed a retirement at stud until he passed away at age 25.  Even though Breyer's sculpt depicts him with a "Big Lick" stride, that is a trend that didn't develop until after his time, and Midnight Sun was actually shown in standard keg shoes.
~ Midnight Sun ~
Midnight Sun Tennessee Walking Horse

Might Tango, ridden by Bruce Davison, was a star eventer, winning Individual Gold in the World Three-Day Eventing championship.  Bruce acquired the 17-hand grey Thoroughbred as a two-year-old ex-racehorse and brought him to the top of the sport.  He was only seven, and Bruce's backup for that event, when his primary horse came up lame, thrusting the still-inexperienced Might Tango into the spotlight.  Their win, against great odds and extreme heat, was compared to "a junior high school quarterback leading USC to victory in the Rose Bowl" by Sports Illustrated.

Might Tango with Bruce Davison aboard
[Might Tango and Bruce Davison]

The most famous Chincoteague Pony ever was of course, Misty.  The epic tale Marguerite Henry wrote describing the wild herd and mysterious, un-catchable mare she was born to was an award-winning book read by every horse-loving kid.  Misty also starred in her own movie, went on tour with her filly Stormy, and performed at shows on Chincoteague to the delight of visitors from around the globe.  She pretty much put Chincoteague on the map, and now the tiny island hosts tens of thousands of tourists every year for Pony Penning Week.

Misty with her three foals; credit mistysheaven.com

[Misty on her stool, with her three foals. L to R: Wisp O' Mist, Phantom Wings, and Stormy.  Held by Ralph and Paul Beebe. Photo credit: www.mistysheaven.com]

Misty's Twilight, a great-granddaughter of famous Chincoteague Pony Stormy, was sired by a grandson of Bold Ruler.  With famous horses on both sides of her pedigree, and a book of her own by Marguerite Henry, Misty's Twilight became the most famous Chincoteague Pony of her generation.  She found her calling in Dressage, but also toured.  Fun bit of trivia:  Eleda was privileged to meet "Twi" and her first foal Twister in 1984, when Twister was only a couple of months old.  They had come to attend Breyerfest, held that year at York, PA.
Misty's Twilight; Photo credit www.mistysheaven.com - a great site for all things Misty-related!
[Misty's Twilight; Photo credit www.mistysheaven.com - a great site for all things Misty-related!]
Breyer honored Misty's Twilight with a portrait model sculpted by Jeanne Mellin Herrick in 1991.  This release was disco'd in 1995.
Native Dancer, nicknamed The Grey Ghost, was the first television star race horse.  With tv becoming popular in the early 1950s, millions watched the two-year-old go undefeated in his nine starts.  His three-year-old year was a repeat performance, except for the only loss of his career, which came in the Kentucky Derby.  His jockey was criticized for giving him a terrible ride, with one person reportedly saying, "He took that colt everywhere on the track except the ladies' room!"  He went on to win the other two legs of the Triple Crown, then was retired partway into his four-year-old year due to a recurring foot injury.  On May 31, 1954, his image graced the cover of "Time" magazine.  He became a very influential stud and passed away in 1967 following surgical removal of a tumor in his intestine.

The bay Thoroughbred Orchidee, with rider Dirk Hafemeister, representing Germany, was part of the Olympic Gold Medal Team in Jumping in the 1988 games at Seoul.  Breyer ran a tribute set to the Gold Medalists for two years: 1989 and 1990.

Orchidee

 

Size:  Classic

Breyer Model #703335

Nobel II is a handsome Andalusian stallion who is also listed as a founding sire in the Spanish Norman Horse breed registry.  This handsome dapple grey was a special guest at Breyerfest 2004 and was chosen as the event's Celebration Model. He is owned by Tracy and Roni Vale of Cortijo Val Moor of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Nobel II - Photo Credit Braymere Custom Saddlery at braymere.blogspot.com
[Nobel II; Photo Credit Braymere Custom Saddlery at braymere.blogspot.com]

 

He is a light grey with subtle dappling and body shading, and wears Nobel II's brand on his left hip.  Only 4500 were made.

 

 

 

The magnificent Desert Arabian mare OT Sara Moniet RSI is a three-time Drinkers of the Wind Cup endurance champion.  She won the cup in 2010, 2011, and again in 2012, finishing all 31 starts, ending all but one in the top ten.  Bred, trained and ridden by Crockett Dumas of Outlaw Trail Ranch Arabians, this is one pretty girl with a bright future!

OT Sara Moniet RSI w Crockett Dumas aboard
[OT Sara Moniet and Crockett Dumas on the trail]
Breyer honored Sara with a portrait model on the Make A Wish mold in 2014, wearing her  lovely coffee-colored coat and shaded mane and tail.  This release was discontinued in 2016.