Over the course of the next few weeks, I will share a five-part series aimed at beginner model horse hobbyists (and tips for more advanced/intermediate people) covering everything about the model horse showing, organizing your collection, and documenting your collection.
Let’s Organize Those Ponies
This first post is about organizing and record keeping, which will also covers a few key bits of information you will find helpful for the next post on model horse showing. I will walk you through cataloging your model horses, what sort of information you need to keep, digital versus print records, and creating a binder that you can use to organize your collection and also to organize your show string while you are at shows.
Benefits of Record Keeping
Why do we document our models? There are a few benefits, one of those being insurance related (especially valuable to anyone with large collections or especially pricy pieces). It’s also a great way to document exactly what you have, which avoids duplicate purchases. Documenting provides handy information needed for model horse showing. If you are involved in pedigree assignment, adding some info related to that is also a great way to keep track of your pedigrees and lines.
There is no best way to record your collection. You may find one method works best, or a combination. Most common are spreadsheet records and binders full of printed paperwork, with many hobbyists preferring a combo of these two. You can also consider using an app, although apps designed specifically for model horse people are limited.
Regardless of what you choose, the information you will most likely want to keep is any of the following:
The Digital Record Method
I use a combination of print and digital record keeping. I chose Google Sheets as my method to catalogue my entire collection with all of the above listed info for each horse. This document is divided into tabs for OF, CM, AR, and China horses. It’s pretty easy to use and has both desktop and mobile capability, which I find amazing for checking what I have on the fly. If you want to be a little more tech savvy, you could create individual sheets for each model horse that records show records, photos of the models, and pedigrees, then link that sheet to that horse’s single line of info on your master sheet.
The Paper Record Method
The printed records I keep are manly for showing purposes, since I like to jot down winnings at the show. You could use a tablet for this, but I like having something that does not require battery or wifi. Something to keep in mind with print records is that it is very easy for it to grow into a massive collection in itself. If you choose this method, think about ways you can condense information or borrow from digital methods to keep from making too large and heavy of a binder(s).
What should you include in the printed binder? First off, page protectors to store all the info. Sheets for 8.5x11 inch paper are popular, but you might also want to consider recipe protectors that come in 5x7 or 4x6 inch pockets, allowing you to store multiple horses on a page. There are also specially made ribbon protectors and a great way to keep things tidier for those horses that win multiple flat ribbons. I chose the 5x7 pockets, which are great for holding smaller ribbons, NAN cards and basic horse info.
You might also want to consider tab dividers to organize OF horses from CMs, or to store your live show documentation (more on documentation in a later post). I love the pocket dividers as I also use these to store ribbons for horses that show so rarely I don’t feel they merit their own sheet protector.
Your next step in the paper method is choosing a good binder. I always look for one large enough to account for the tabs and the extra width added from using sheet protectors. I hate binders that let those pages and tabs stick out. Finally, try to get an ultra duty binder, especially if it is your show binder, so it will last a while. Get a slightly larger size than you think you need to allow for future horse purchases.
The binder method isn’t perfect. It can’t store your larger ribbons like rosettes and fails to work when horses win many NAN cards (the pages get bulky quickly and easily spill their contents at that point). If you reach this stage in your hobby adventures, you might want to consider alternative storage options like small plastic totes to store your cards and ribbons. Some people make envelopes for each horse to store all the ribbons and cards, placing that horse’s photo and info on a page glued to the envelope, and then store these in a file box.
And there you have it! Your crash course in organizing your collection, keeping records, and making a binder for collecting or showing. In my next post, I will introduce you to live and photo horse shows, how to find and enter them, how the classes are structured, and how both types of shows are run so you know what to expect as a participant. The other posts in my Model Horse 101 series will cover show tags, show documentation, and how to have fun and success at shows.
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