Arts & Culture

A Big Party for Tiny Horses

BreyerFest at Lexington, Kentucky’s Horse Park celebrates the famous model horses—and the real ones that inspire them

In 1950, the plastics manufacturer Breyer created its first model horse as part of a mantelpiece clock commissioned by the F.W. Woolworth Company. The figurine became so popular that Breyer decided to specialize, crafting inches-tall mares and stallions that now have a loyal fan base— and an annual party, which includes real horses, too.

Photo: James Shambu, KHP

Breyerfest in 2018.

BreyerFest at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington celebrates its thirtieth anniversary July 12–14. 

“Many of the attendees own real horses, others collect model horses, and many don’t have the space to own a horse, so they come to this event and meet horses,” says Lisa Rakes, the mounted police captain at the park, whose equine partner, an eleven-year-old black-and-white Shire cross named Oliver, is this year’s horse of honor. Weekend ticket holders will receive a miniature Oliver, created in his image down to the white spots on his black coat. 

Photo: James Shambu, KHP

Oliver with his miniature likeness.

The theme salutes horse heroes—animals that work with police forces and the military, and as rescuers. Browse collection displays, attend workshops, and watch cavalry-drill performances by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Look for Oliver working security all weekend, except when he stops to meet his fans, pose for pictures with his Breyer mini-me, and accept treats. “Most horses love peppermints,” Rakes says, “and Oliver is no exception.”

Photo: James Shambu, KHP

Oliver in a demonstration with Lisa Rakes.