During BreyeFest I was asked, more than once, why I hadn't entered the Best Customs Contest. After all, this was as close as the hobby had got to a Master Tack Class! It might never happen again! My immediate answer, fear of Covid, while true and 79% of my excuse, was not the complete story. There were other reasons, echoing like aftershocks, which more fully explained my stance. I pondered and puzzled and finally wrote them all up deep in the night after I got back home. That entry, dated July 17, is in quotes below; all else is afterwards.
Knowing this conflict would arise (you're a king tackmaker famous for harness in a Driving Theme year!), I planned a harness display from my personal collection for my room at the CHIN (612). Of course, showing off to the public was not exactly Covid-avoidance; but I was hoping, hoping, I could dare to find a middle ground, and be more open than last year. The numbers were favorable. In the event, I did find a middle ground (which boosted my ego as much as the hitch). My ego has been thoroughly boosted by all the reactions. You'd a-thought no one had ever seen a model draft horse hitch before!
These display photos were taken by my cell phone. Above: a heavily-customized-by-me sleigh that started life as a green bobsleigh by Dick Eighmey. Below: My Grand Champion of Show horse and harness (circa 2000) put to a Dave Blenkey Draft Cart (1999). Doll by Anne Field.
A Michelle Huskins Wood Wiz Meadowbrook Cart Kit I made and customized (different wheels, leather on the shafts), circa late 1990s. Doll by Kris Gallegher.
If you still haven't seen enough TSII harness displays, here's a link to my website's own page on the Canadian 8-Horse-Hitch, my "other" 8-hitch, created from 1991 to 2002 for Ivy Olensky. The Olensky Canadian 8-Hitch
"2307.17 5 in the morning There are more reasons than fear of Covid, which kept me from entering the contest. Behind No.2, pride,[*] lies No. 3, Time. The last fantastically detailed piece of tack I made (one that would be worthy of such attention -- ahah ANOTHER reason, the Artist would choose the MOST incredibly challenging & difficult piece) -- took me eleven (11) months: Eleanor's copy of the Clyde Goehring saddle [next 2 pix]. And I just don't have that kind of time anymore. George [my husband], Mom, Dad [age 89] and our very lifestyle has evolved to where large chunks of free time don't exist.
[Ed. where large chunks of free time are expensive and hard to get.]
[*Pride here meaning I didn't need the recognition or fame or advertising. I've already made my mark,... proven my case.]
"Not anymore, not like they did when the 8 was made. Remember the record hours-per-day (12) was set on the 8-Hitch itself, back in 1991,...??!
"...The Pandemic was so stressful for us, so crushing and restraining and hard -- so emphasizing of isolation -- that we're still figuring out its legacy. George & I have always been slow-burning private people, and that just made it worse. To draw attention to myself in such a public way, after so long (3 1/3 years!) of wholesale ducking & dodging --!! My 2 reasons of fear & pride are blending here -- becoming one. How strong a braid they make.
"The more I think about the question the more it appears that ABAFT [my next book] was/is my entry. Here's the 4th reason: I chose braidwork over harness. I saw the choice coming. How I squirmed --!! What rotten timing you had, o Breyer!! But the hobby always does this, always forces you to ruthlessly choose only your uttermost favorite. Years of surviving BreyerFest itself has taught me this. I chose what truly was worthy of me. Braidwork is just as lifelong as harness for me, and more important, it still has mysteries and challenges for me. Harness does not. Harness I'd already done, back in the Guide (1998). In a large way, harness was a closed book.
[Ed. harness was dormant,... yeah, like a volcano.]
"But the greatest of these was pride. // Or was it? I look at both Dani Boiko's and Sarah's entries and I see the boundless promise of youth: the future generations. ...[...]... These brightly shining stars are the best cure & vaccine & protection we could have. I am coming late to such motherhood as I can manage but I am coming. The next book represents my sacrifice, the child who takes all my gifts and secrets,... as it should be.
|Dani Boiko's Costume entry. photo used by permission|
|Dani Boiko's Costume entry. photo used by permission|
|Sarah Hartman's Parade entry. photo used by permission|
|Close up of Sarah's. photo used by permission|
"My answer to pandemic, and indeed life, was to do my utmost. It ill becomes you, Breyer, to ask for what I cannot give, because I'm already giving it. ... [...] ... Y'didn't realize what you were asking. You've made it harder, not easier, to finish this book. But it will be a masterpiece."
Nothing like painting oneself into a corner! Surely such statements will jinx the book!! Not to praise until it's finished, --- and it's taking forever!! But there y'go, lots of late-night ponderings and confessions. Here's hoping that some day, somewhere and some way, there will be tack classes again.
I would have liked for Dani's fabulous costume to've taken second place, at least.
I have the dimmest memory of meeting with somebody named Sarah Hartman at NAN some years ago, talking with her and being impressed by her braidwork... ... Er-muh-gard, I actually found it: July 22, 2016 (seven years ago!!) when I was photographer for North American Nationals. What a memory --!!
Going back through those thousands of NAN pictures (2016, 2018) is discovering an ore-vein of vast riches.