Historically Accurate Model Horse Carriages

  • 01 of 09

    Examples of Realistic Miniature Vehicles for Breyer and Other Model Horses

    One of a kind hand made model horse carriage.
    Bill Duncan

    Model horse vehicle maker Bill Duncan has made historically accurate Breyer scale model horses and vehicles for many years. His work appears in private collections worldwide and has been featured in both the WEG 2010 Breyer display and the Concord Coach Society, Inc. museum. Bill's uncanny ability to recreate tiny replicates of historical vehicles in wood makes his work highly sought-after for prize-winning model horse show entries. Whether it's a simple farmer's cart or a replicate of the Queen of England's royal coach, Bill recreates it in perfect detail.

    Many people contact me with photos of old vehicles owned by their families, Bill said in a recent interview. I also find inspiration in reference books, online and in old photos.

    We asked Bill to share his insights into his favorite historical vehicle recreations. The following model horse and Breyer scale vehicles will take your breath away with their accuracy, realism, and attention to detail.

    Even Bill didn't start his model vehicle-making career by making the elaborate stagecoaches and royal coaches. He began by making carts and leather tack for model horses. You can make your own vehicle out of cardboard using the winter sleigh pattern scaled for Breyer traditional and classic sized model horses. Just add a great model horse and harness, and you've got the start of your own prize-winning harness class entry! Model horse collector Linda York made the sleigh pattern in wood and created her own great sleigh. You can do the same and use it for live or photo shows.

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  • 02 of 09

    Stagecoaches for Model Horses for an Old West Look

    Model horse stagecoach by Bill Duncan for a team of four.
    Bill Duncan

    Stagecoaches were used to carry passengers, mail, and goods across the vast expanses of the western United States before railroads provided faster and safer travel.  According to Bill, The first Concord stagecoach was built in 1829. It was usually pulled by four horses or four-in-hand.

    Horses used to pull stagecoaches were calm Quarter Horse-type horses. They were chosen for stamina and strength. Draft horses were not used to pull stagecoaches. The typical harnesses used on stagecoach horses were sturdy, working harnesses.

    Good model horses for a stagecoach set up include any of the Breyer Quarter Horses. Some of their Thoroughbred-type models, such as Phar Lap, might also make an interesting stagecoach horse. Candace Liddy created six Artist Resin model horses called the Wells Fargo Series, named after the famous stagecoach line, depicting the ideal stagecoach horse.

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  • 03 of 09

    Delivery and Sales Wagons for Model Horse Show Scenes

    Globe Shoe and Clothing horse drawn sales wagon in model horse scale.
    Bill Duncan

    Delivery wagons come in all shapes and sizes and were often specific to the goods being transported. All manner of goods were transported by horse-drawn vehicles. You might think of the Budweiser Clydesdale draft horses pulling a wagon piled high with beer barrels, but wine and other liquids were transported by wagons too. The milk wagon, pulled by a calm old horse who knew just which houses to stop at on the route, was a familiar sight in most American cities until the late 1930s. Coal, ice and other daily staples of life were also delivered by wagon. Use your imagination and find historical photos of horses in everyday life to develop your own scene.

    Bill Duncan went all out with this one of a kind replica of the Globe Shoe Company delivery wagon. He said about this photo; This is a replica of an 1848 Globe Clothing and Shoe Company mobile store in St. Louis, Missouri. Very, very, authentic to the original. One-fourth of the back top of the globe opens to see inside with shelves and clothes racks. One of a kind! This would be pulled by a well trained, calm horse of your choice with a working harness that could be decorated a little depending on how the wagon was decorated.

    Standing model horses make good wagon horses, or those walking or trotting with a calm disposition. You can use any heavy draft horses or medium-type horse for delivery wagons, depending on the weight and size of the wagon being pulled. Some harnesses were decked with bells, flowers and other ornaments to attract attention for the salesman selling goods. Again, a good reference photo can help you create something historically accurate.

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  • 04 of 09

    The Sjees, A Carriage Just for Friesian Model Horses

    Dutch sjees by Bill Duncan pulled by Friesian modle horses
    Bill Duncan

    Model horse collectors love Friesian model horses, and Breyer models such as Goffert and Schleich's Friesian horses look superb with historically accurate horse-drawn vehicles. Friesian horses were originally bred as carriage horses, and their combination draft and carriage horse heritage makes them ideal for all types of harness classes.

    Bill shared photos of a sjees, a special type of Dutch vehicle pulled traditionally by Friesian horses. He said, A Sjees is an elegant carriage from the Netherlands. They have been dated from the middle of the 18th century but could be older than that. The elaborately curved sides and ornamentation are in the rococo style. The body is intentionally off-set on the undercarriage for ease of entry and exit. A Sjees is pulled by one or two Friesian horses with a black harness with white reins.

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  • 05 of 09

    Sleighs for Model Horse Winter Scenes

    Horse drawn sleigh by scale model carriage maker Bill Duncan
    Bill Duncan

    Sleighs make a good starting vehicle for crafty people who love model horses and miniatures. The runners on sleighs avoid creating or buying wheels, which can be tricky to make and difficult to find in the proper scale. Breyer released several Traditional scale sleigh vehicles as part of their Holiday Horse line; at least two were released, one with a dappled gray pony and another circa 1990 with a flocked horse as a special run model.

    Bill Duncan said of sleighs; Sleighs are vehicles designed to slide on snow or ice and transport passengers or cargo. Most often drawn by well-trained horses, some are known to be pulled by reindeer, and occasionally hearty dogs. Sleighs vary in style from utilitarian to elegant. The type of horse and harness used would depend on the style of sleigh. A lighter, finer harness would be used for the most elegant sleighs. The swan sleigh pictured is one of the more elegant sleighs.

    If you collect model dogs, such as the Breyer or Schleich dogs, consider an unusual entry consisting of a dog sleigh! Another entry may be to recreate the White Witch's sleigh from the Narnia books and movies. Use your imagination and read the tips for setting up a winter diorama to create the ultimate sleigh harness scene.

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  • 06 of 09

    Competition Driving Classes with Model Horses and Marathon Carts

    Marathon cart by model horse vehicle expert Bill Duncan
    Bill Duncan

    If you've ever watched driving or harness classes on television, you've probably seen a marathon cart. These are the types of carts used in Olympic competitions. Horse models suited for dressage can be shown with marathon carts.

    Bill said of marathon carts, Marathon carts are used in equestrian sport driving trials or combined driving competitions, sponsored by the Federation Equestre International (FEI). Best known of these competitions may be the Olympics. Very well trained horses are driven in dressage, marathon, or through cone competitions. Carts may be pulled by one horse, a pair, or four horses with a working harness.

    You can use cones from many of the Breyer playsets as cones in your driving scenes using a marathon cart. It's also great for showing horses in very collected, dressage-type poses in harness classes, giving you another way to show a model horse in performance settings.

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  • 07 of 09

    Industrial Vehicles Are Great for Showing Draft Horse Models

    Richard Forrestel, Jr., Chief Financial Officer, and Steve Forrestel, President of Cold Spring Construction with a replica of an industrial horse-drawn wagon designed by their grandfather
    Bill Duncan

    Industrial vehicles were the tractor-trailers of the horse-drawn age. There were dump trucks pulled by horses and other vehicles created to make road work and other industries easier. Such vehicles were pulled by draft horses; they often carried rocks, slate, and soil, and the strong draft breeds were needed to haul such heavy loads.

    Bill's favorite industrial vehicle is one he created for a very special client.

    Industrial vehicles such as the dump wagon originally designed and patented by Eugene Forrestal to build the roads of upstate New York in the early 1900s. This wagon was designed to haul rock and soil, and upon arrival at its destination, a lever was pulled opening the bottom of the wagon delivering the contents. This replica was custom ordered by Southworth-Milton, Inc. and presented to Cold Spring Construction on their 100th Anniversary. Richard Forrestel, Jr., Chief Financial Officer, and Steve Forrestel, President of Cold Spring Construction of Akron, NY accepted the gift, a replica of the wagon designed by their grandfather. The engraved plaque reads "Your one-hundredth anniversary is testimony to a rich history of ingenuity, ethics, and hard work. Congratulations! Milton Cat".

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  • 08 of 09

    Royal Carriages and Elegant Coaches for Model Horses

    Replica of a royal carriage by Bill Duncan in traditional scale
    Bill Duncan

    With the recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and echoes of Princess Diana and Prince Charles' fairytale wedding, interest has grown in the beautiful vehicles used in the wedding procession on that festive day. The carriage used by Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, hails from the early 20th century and was used by William's great-grandmother, Queen Mary.

    Bill Duncan said of royal carriages, and fancy carriages and coaches, Carriages similar to the Royal Brougham pictured here were enclosed carriages designed to transport passengers in cities or between cities while protecting them from the weather. This particular model is one of several custom built for Jon Paul Ferrara, one of the top ten living American artists. He is best known for painting the images used on the covers of romance novels. He uses my creations as models in his paintings. A Royal Brougham would be pulled by a finely bred and extremely well cared for horses with a carriage harness. The scene for a carriage would be of a city or park.

    Carriage horses were usually well bred, gentle yet spirited horses that were beautiful to look at as well as strong. Many were driven in pairs, and pairs were matched in color, height, and even markings. If you love one particular Breyer horse, double up and buy two; you can show them as a matched pair in carriage driving.

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  • 09 of 09

    Begin Collecting Scale Vehicles for Model Horses

    World equestrian games model by Bill Duncan
    Bill Duncan

    You can begin your model horse scale vehicle collection using many of the Breyer Traditional, Classic and Stablemate vehicles. Many are sold as part of children's play sets but can be adapted to live or photo shows by adding finer details. Another option is to find commercial carts and vehicles created for displays and decorations. Many Christmas sleighs intended for centerpieces, for example, can be repainted into authentic and historically accurate colors and used in model horse dioramas. There are model railroad kits featuring miniature horse-drawn vehicles, but these are too small to be used even with micro mini scale model horses. If you just love model horses and miniature vehicles, they make a fun project and include the parts you need to assemble into the final vehicle. Some include the horse.

    Thank You to Bill Duncan of BD Wagons for the tips and photos. Visit Bill's display in Artisans Hall at Breyerfest or his website for more information and pictures of his finely crafted model horse vehicles.