Forever in Our Hearts:
Breyer Model Horses with Ocala Connections (Part 2)
Since releasing its first model horse in 1950, the Breyer Molding Company has become an icon. The demand for that first model caused the Chicago-based company to launch the Breyer Animal Creations® brand of model horses and accessories.
In 1984, the Breyer Animal Creations® brand was acquired by Reeves International, a long-standing name in the toy industry that was founded by Swiss entrepreneur Werner J. Fleischmann in 1946.
Reeves International continued to grow and expand the Breyer model line, and Breyer became known worldwide as the premier brand of model horses. Fleischmann’s son, Anthony, bought the business from his father in 1998. Breyer continues to be the company’s signature brand.
For decades, Breyer has been immortalizing famous horses–both fictional and real.
With this article, we continue our closer look at Breyer models that have Ocala connections. (For more details about how models are selected and created, look back at Part 1 in this series.)
“With our status as the Horse Capital of the World®, it really comes as no surprise that the Ocala and greater Marion County area has had so many horses recognized as Breyer models,” says Valerie Dailey, broker/owner of Showcase Properties of Central Florida.
“It’s so exciting to see them tell their stories and share the amazing horses that call Ocala home with a wider audience,” she adds.
“With our status as the Horse Capital of the World®, it really comes as no surprise that the Ocala and greater Marion County area has had so many horses recognized as Breyer models. It’s so exciting to see them tell their stories and share the amazing horses that call Ocala home with a wider audience.”
–Valerie Dailey, broker/owner of Showcase Properties of Central Florida
Vivaldi de Besilu
(Breyer model #1860)
Born in 2010, Vivaldi de Besilu has had an impressive show career, competing not only in the United States, but also in Colombia and Puerto Rico. He has been Grand National Champion Fino Stallion for five consecutive years: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020, making him the winningest Grand Champion in the history of the event.
Vivaldi capped off his accomplishments in 2020 as the first Paso Fino ever to be recognized as a National Horse of Honor by the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).
Vivaldi de Besilu was also inducted into the Spectrum International Hall of Fame.
His trainer, Eliecer Guzman, says the stallion is a true competitor and loves the excitement of the show arena.
Vivaldi became a Breyer model in 2022 and made a guest appearance at BreyerFest that summer.
Vivaldi de Besilu has the bloodlines, conformation and show record to be an outstanding stallion for the breed and is already siring foals that display great promise.
(Breyer model #1774)
Elisa Wallace of Ocala is a top American eventer and a lover of mustangs, having competed in several mustang makeovers.
For the Mustang Magic Competition held in Fort Worth in January 2015, Wallace had a dapple-gray filly chosen by random draw. She picked up the wild filly in September 2014. Something about the gray reminded her of the talking mare in the C.S. Lewis’ book, The Horse and His Boy, so Wallace named her Hwin.
After just 120 days of training, Hwin and Wallace were jumping a 4-foot wall. They placed fourth overall in the makeover.
“The public really loved her; she has a lot of fans. The fact that she was doing English made her different,” says Wallace, who fundraised at the end of the competition to win the mare at auction.
In 2016, Wallace and Hwin successfully competed at the Preliminary level. “I’ve actually jumped her up to 4’9”, says Wallace, who has trained over 20 mustangs and currently has five of her own.
When Breyer contacted Wallace about making Hwin into a model, this just underscored the popularity of mustangs that Wallace has seen grow over the years. She provided multiple photos of Hwin to help Breyer’s artists portray every last detail accurately.
“We went to BreyerFest 2017 and there were a ton of people. Hwin knows how to smile and really puts on a show. She likes the attention, but as with any princess, there comes a time when she needs her alone time,” laughs Wallace.
The charismatic little mustang mare has a happy home for life with Wallace.
(Breyer model #9108)
Bred in Holland, the Dutch partbred Hackney gelding was destined for the slaughterhouse when he was purchased by Belgian driver and FEI official Mark Wenten for use as a carriage horse in Belgium.
Jamaica had no patience for standing still—a fault in a tourist carriage horse, but an advantage for competition.
It was the proverbial “match made in heaven.”
Jamaica was named 2008 USEF Horse of the Year and in 2013 was inducted into the EQUUS Foundation Horse Hall of Fame.
He was featured in at least three books, took part in “Kiss the Horse” literary campaigns, and painted a “Moneigh” with his muzzle in a fundraiser for ReRun Thoroughbreds.
Weber retired his champion in 2011, and Jamaica lived the life of a pampered pensioner at Live Oak Stud in Ocala for many years until his passing in 2020 at the age of 29.
“Thank you, Jamaica, for being my partner and companion for the past 19 years,” said Weber at the time.
“Together, we made a name for ourselves, and you helped me achieve goals I never thought possible. From slaughter’s doorstep to World Championships, you showed the world that with a little love and nurture, animals will return the favor ten times over.”
The most decorated driver in the United States, Weber is an 18-time USEF Four-in-Hand National Champion.
(Breyer models #1757 [Traditional] and #9178 [Stablemates])
Although bred in Kentucky, American Pharoah received his early training in Ocala at McKathan Brothers Training Center. The colt is one of many young horses who went on to outstanding race careers after being started and trained by J.B. and Kevin McKathan.
The success of horses bought, sold and/or trained by the McKathan Brothers attracted client Ahmed Zayat of Zayat Stables. J.B. and Kevin trained both Pioneer of the Nile and Littleprincessemma for Zayat (the sire and dam of the 2015 Triple Crown winner).
American Pharoah arrived at their farm as a yearling in 2013, and his natural abilities were soon apparent.
“I’ve never seen a horse with a more efficient stride in my life,” said J.B. McKathan “The only thing he ever did wrong was go too fast when we worked him. The first time he outworked the other horse by 12 lengths.”
After that eye-opening workout, J.B. and Kevin were hardly surprised when American Pharoah left for trainer Bob Baffert’s barn and became a superstar.
American Pharoah won 9 of 11 races and earned $8,650,300. He was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 2021 and stands at stud at Ashford Stud in Kentucky.
Breyer’s American Pharoah collection debuted in fall 2015 and included portrait models in Traditional (1:9), Freedom Series (1:12) and Stablemates (1:32) scales, plus a holiday ornament and a special edition resin sculpture.
Simba du Pont de Tournay
(Breyer model #711216)
Representing a French breed rarely seen in the United States, Simba du Pont de Tournay is an Ardennes stallion who was the Celebration Horse at BreyerFest 2015, the same year he was made a Breyer model.
Known in Europe as Ardennais, the Ardennes is an ancient draft breed from the Ardennes region bordering France and Belgium. Respected for their strength and agility, the breed was used to pull artillery in war and as cavalry mounts and were ridden by the knights of the Middle Ages. The breed is still used today for farming, commercial forestry, driving and pleasure riding.
Ocala-based equine photographer Mark Barrett has featured Simba in his annual calendar.
Concklin and Simba showed off his driving skills at BreyerFest where fans were wowed by the massive stallion and his docile, friendly personality.
(Clover Oaks Farm was located in Brooksville at the time Simba became a Breyer model, but according to their social media profile, the farm has since relocated to North Georgia.)