Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Silver Dapple Fighter


This is a long post (long overdue!), so, important stuff first!  This horse is looking for a good home, but he's not for sale.  He is, hopefully, a gift, a donation to the next generation.  Money can't buy him, (although, in a perfect world, the new owner would supply the postage, Hah!).  In that ideal world, he'd go to someone who was conga-ing unique, unusual Fighting Stallions:  those with a touch of hobby history.  In this case his claim is a name:  he was created by a famous artist who is not known for painting but for tackmaking.  😁   He's been sitting around doing nothing for about 40 years, and for many different reasons I don't want to keep him.  This post is his story.  Email me at sbytsii@verizon.net with your own story of why he might come to you.  I'll wait til Halloween, then reassess.

 Sooner or later, good things come to an end.  It was hard enough to lose my mother this spring (see May's post), but it hadn't occurred to me that meant losing the house as well.  Yet in the end, things have boiled down to that.  We have been unable to find enough helpers for Dad to go on living there in the summer, and none of his 3 children wanted the house enough to keep it.  The process of cleaning out my natal home -- think of it, 63 years! -- has begun.  (Dad's now in the winter house, in Tucson.)  And so we come to the silver stallion.

We are all familiar, I think, with the concept of a model horse as a memorial.  Often they are portraits of real horses;  sometimes they are a memory-piece for a real horse (I have one of those).  Other times, the model is a souvenir of a person or a place, or of a time with a special person(s).  I have quite a few horses that remember places and people, happy visits and vacations.  But this one embodies an entire house,... as it happens, one without me.

I owe my brother Allen for my possessing the Silver Dapple Fighter right now.  He said quite simply, "But you have to take him Sue!"  Spoken with inside knowledge of my model horse career.  Skipping over, forgetfully, the Lipizzaner Reitschule plates and embroidered pictures still hanging in the old place; certainly skipping, because I haven't told anyone yet, my own Will's dictates for a few models to go to family, i.e. my sister.  The silver stallion is pretty much outside of everything.

He has no name, no personality.  He has no registry card (almost every other one of my models does).  He's not like Thomas, the Fighter on my piano:  Tuning my piano.  He has sat on the mantle for, let's see, about 42 years.  Thirty-six of them, appx., without me.  (Note the fireplace was never used in this house.)

Blog readers may recognize this end of the basement from my BCS Winter Photo Challenge post (see January of 2015, first photo).  Of course, particularly during the 80s, the silver stallion may have been residing anywhere in the basement.  I left home permanently in the spring of 1987, and I just didn't want him.  So there he remained.  I told myself he'd stay there forever, in the place where the TSII began -- where I began.  Every other horse I've owned or wanted I've long since taken away; they have continued their story with me, accumulating memories, history and story, layering richer.  This one I deliberately left behind, a symbol of unchangingness,...  of unthinkingness.  I couldn't imagine ever losing the house itself.  How comforting, for all those years!  far longer than many other families,...

Ah but how can you refuse little brother, especially when he's right.  😲   

The horse has no photos, not being represented in the 5 shoeboxes of photographs I have covering my pre-digital hobby life, circa 1978 to 2010.  I'd done a number of repaints and customs in my early years, and many are shown here:  Thoughts on NaMoPaiMo 2017.  Somehow, my few faux-Decorators are not mentioned.   I do remember one gold-dapple FAF.  Fake Decos appears to've been a phase I went through.

"Luke I am your father!"  I was a young artist in the first full flush of her powers, in her early 20s, going to college, discovering the model hobby and setting up a mail-order business.  He is a piece that reflects my early determination and stubbornness -- my love of silver! -- which would soon be turned to leatherwork and tackmaking.  With him actually in hand, I am astonished by his power now -- the raw strength of him.  I really had forgotten that.

Take an Alabaster Fighting Stallion (they were common in those days), strip off what little grey shadings there were (nail polish remover!) and leave the pink.  These photos don't show it but the sheath is pink.  If you look closely enough you can see the remains of hoof pads!  Take a can of silver spray paint and let most of the freon out (by spraying with it upside down).  The paint then comes out in blurts and splatters, dribs and gobbets, making for a satisfactory if not authentic reproduction of those most revered model horses, the fabulous metallic Decorators.  Handpaint the places that need it and run some polishing, smoothing factor (probably sandpaper) over the areas that got too much paint.  I did not have any gloss coating back then.

It's entirely possible he was my original White Fighter and got demoted when he broke his ear (honestly I've no idea how that happened).  A replacement might've been too perfect to destroy, so I kept the newcomer (today I have a great Alabaster Fighter dating from those years) and may have used the broken one to experiment with.  But it's also possible I bought him with painting in mind from the start.  The first flush of eager experimentation was successful:  that's all that mattered.  In this case that excitement went on to form a hobby artist who has lasted 40+ years,... although it took until 2018, and NaMoPaiMo, before I seriously painted horses again!  With NMPM to guide me, today I inked initials on him:

It should be clear we don't really have a year pinned down for the Silver Dapple Fighter;  but a good educated guess is 1981.  

A logical question is how many more of these surprises are there to uncover!?  Heh!  There's the mentioned-but-long-lost gold-dapple FAF (you'd know that one by his much-worn-down off fore hoof); and there's a TSII-saddled buckskin Stock Horse Mare on the Tucson mantle, but she is seriously ugly  😄  no desires there!  Every horse from those ancient days has either been dispersed long since or is with me now.  This one was an exception, sitting in the basement of Fox Hills, unwanted, quietly absorbing, suspended.  He was present during my Mom's last times there, but it's more than her;  it's the house itself I can hardly bear to let go of.  For once, I am not strong enough to want him;  it's too painful;  I have other horses to do this job.  The house's fate is his fate.

The best thing that could happen would be for him to go to a new generation that was trying to capture hobby history yet enjoyed pieces for their own sake.  Tell me a story, make me an offer.  I can help with the postage.


  1. What a story, Sue! As someone who has cleaned out her parents' home and then sold it, I am with you every step of this journey. I hope he finds a new home with someone who will cherish the rich history he brings with him. And I hope you include the story you have written here when you send him off. Lynn

  2. Thank you all. He has found a new owner now.