When I started this blog – two years ago this month! – I promised myself that I would avoid commenting on structural issues within the model horse community. There was a time when I was very involved and very vocal on the topics of shows and particularly judging, but I decided it was time to step back and focus on the goings-on here at the pottery.
But I have been tempted several times to put in a small plug for online showing. A slowing economy (and I suspect an somewhat aging hobby population) has hit our show system pretty hard. Those that show ceramics have added issues with transporting their entries. Security procedures and new rules about carry-on luggage make it more difficult than ever to fly to shows with anything more than a minimal group of entries. Shipping entries to the show ahead of time (if you can find a show that allows this) has become cost-prohibitive for many. If someone is going to show more than a few ceramic horses, they pretty much are going to need to drive.
That’s why I think online showing could be such a boon to showing ceramic showers. There are no transport issues. And unlike the “photo shows” of old, entrants and even non-entrants can actually see the competition. (This may be a bit unlike regular shows, too, where most entrants are too busy to really look at the rest of the horses in the classes.)
Right now there are four places that have regular online shows. (Clicking the logos will take you to each show’s information site.)
Model Horse Blab is one of the largest forum sites in the model horse community, and it recently started hosting online shows. One has already been held earlier this year, and the second one is currently accepting entries until the end of July. Blab is the only one of the four that offers a separate Custom Glaze Division. It also has one of the easiest uploading interfaces, so it is a good “first show” for those new to online showing.
TOPSA (Totally Online Photo Show Association) is the oldest of the four, having been established in 1999. It’s also one of the largest in terms of entries. (The current Artist Resin Arabians, traditional-scale, has 69 entries with the gates not yet closed. As a comparison, there were 34 entries in that same class at the North American Nationals.) There is no Custom Glaze Division; custom glazes show in the Custom Division. There are separate divisions for minis, though, and these are well attended. The shows are hosted on Webshots, so mastering the uploading and labeling takes a little time, but the organization provides very detailed instructions.
MHOSS (Model Horse Online Show Series) is a newer group, set up in 2008. Like TOPSA, the shows are hosted on Webshots using the same uploading and labeling procedures. The shows are somewhat smaller, and there is no Custom Glaze Division. Instead, custom glazes show in the China Division along with the original finish chinas (and, unfortunately, the cold-painted chinas).
IPABRA (International Pedigree Assignment and Bloodline Research Association) hosts online club shows. This is the smallest of the four, but the club tends to attract judges with a really good base of knowledge. (This is not surprising given the focus of the organization.) The shows are hosted at Photobucket, so they work a great deal like TOPSA and MHOSS.
For most of these shows, there is a membership or subscription fee that entitles the member to a year of shows. The one exception is MHOSS, which currently has free entry. The highest is Model Horse Blab, which is only open to paid forum members ($18/year). But even that is lower than the entry fee to a regular show.
And as a side note, for those that own Blackberry Lane horses and would like to try out online showing, please feel to use any of the promotional photos of your horse taken here at the studio when you enter. I sure won’t mind!
Of course, this has all been on my mind as I have been thinking of those lucky enough to attend the Breakables show in Kentucky! Like most of us who couldn’t attend, I am looking forward to show reports and pictures.