LSQ Guidelines









Reserved Rights:

It’s important to understand and accept that certain artists reserve specific legal artistic rights that protect their creative endeavors, whether finished or as blank bodies (either blank Resins or blank Customs). Such rights are usually based on the intellectual property laws of Copyright Law and the Visual Artists Rights Act (or “VARA”). These reserved rights need to be researched and taken into account on a per artist basis before making any purchase, for any reason. You certainly do not want to get “stuck” with a model you’re inevitably unhappy with, but unable to change. So only work on models or patronage artists that are aligned to your own sensibilities and goals in order to have a happier experience.

Remember: Choose LSQ pieces based on artistic parameters you can




A Healthier Philosophy:

It must be said that the state of our judging practices is chaos. Unfortunately, at this time, there is little consensus on judging standards or expectations, meaning that each judge uses a random and individual set of requirements with little, or no, accountability to any governing body. Until this situation changes, live showing can be unpredictable, even with an LSQ model. Therefore, I recommend only purchasing models you love 100%, rather than desperately trying to find models that will win because, otherwise, you may find your experience to be continually frustrating and stressful. Honestly, even if your beloved model never wins, you’ll still enjoy it, which is the whole point, isn’t it?

Remember: LSQ is no guarantee of live show success, so be sure you

love your models for what they are, not what they’ll do for you in the ring.


The Optionals

The common denominator of The Optionals is individual taste, perspectives and goals and therefore, necessitates more latitude than The Essentials. Topics presented are, as follows:

  • Conformation and Type

  • Artistic Style vs. Caricature

  • Hairing

Conformation and Type:

I recommend individual research of this subject, with an objective and skeptical mind. And while it has been argued that a successful LSQ model must be a good representation of its intended breed or type, that is an ambiguous expectation at best and, therefore, should be considered optional. Why? Well, for six primary reasons, as follows:

  • Conformation and type are not necessarily tenants of realism since plenty of living horses have poor conformation or type, yet are still characterized by equine anatomy. They may be flawed, but are still “realistic”. And when we judge model horses, we are judging realism made by the work of human hands, and not nature. And so, predictably, there are plenty of models with ideal conformation and type that are flawed anatomically (i.e. not realistic). And remember,

    conformation and type are the lengths, angles and characteristics

    instituted by humans that supposedly qualify an animal as “superior” or “inferior” for human use or enjoyment, whereas anatomy qualifies the animal as part of the genus Equus for survival, which vastly predates domestication by humans. This doesn’t mean the model can be off-type or pathological, but that conformation and type must be regarded in balance with equine evolution, physiology and the history of domestication by humans.

  • Yes, there is a basis of functional conformation that protects against

    pathologies that cause pain and injury to the animal. But most conformation and type dogma is theory at best and marketing gimmickry and propaganda at worst. Both are also notoriously prone to frivolous fashion, bias, misinformation and exaggeration, much to the detriment of the living animal. The truth is that plenty of “poorly conformed” or “ugly” horses perform beautifully and stay sound whereas plenty of “ideal” specimens perform poorly or are chronically lame. And there’s nothing “ugly” or “inferior” about a happy, useful horse.

  • By which standard of conformation and type are we supposed to evaluate a model? Are we stuck with only those current representatives deemed “ideal” right now or may we also include those phenotypes found throughout the breed’s history? Of note, this speaks directly to the underlying contradiction in model horse showing that plagues it, specifically the clash between “historical” judging and “now” judging. Historical judging (which I favor) acknowledges all possible representatives within a gene pool, throughout history, whether or not they’re favored by modern times or standards. In short, historical judging evaluates the gene pool only, and all the possibilities that can occur in it. For example, historical desert Arabians can compete equally against modern show ring Arabians; old foundation Quarter Horses can compete

    equally against modern halter Quarter Horses. Even chestnut Friesians can compete equally against black Friesians (given the shower provides documentation) since it’s genetically possible to produce a chestnut Friesian even though the registry disfavors the color in the breed. In contrast, “now” judging (which I disfavor) only acknowledges current, modern representatives of any given gene pool, strictly according to current registry dogma. This type of judging is most like showing a real horse today, only recognizing current forms and presentation of the breed and shutting out much of what was, and is still, possible. For example, in its extreme form, such judges favor those models in the textbook modern halter pose, with grooming, coloration and phenotypes currently fashionable and fault all others, regardless of LSQ. So it’s important to understand from which perspective you wish to focus your showstring, and to carefully choose which judges you show under, otherwise your perfectly LSQ model may not show well through no fault of its


  • Can it be said that there is only one conformational and type standard for each breed? Hardly. In fact, most breeds can be typified as having several acceptable variations, historical and present, due to bloodlines, uses or tradition.

  • Conformation and type are too open to interpretation or differing taste. Indeed, everyone seems to have a different idea about what is “ideal” type or structure for any given discipline, bloodline or breed,

    so, which is correct?

  • The concept of “breed” or “pure bloodline”, as we know it today, is a rather contemporary western notion adamantly perpetuated by registries and the industries they support, and can rely heavily on mythologies, misinformation and rhetoric. Originally, horses were bred for a specific use, with rather open gene pools, shaping their bodies for narrowly focused disciplines. In fact, the original application of “type” was to discern between a riding horse, a racehorse, a carriage horse, a warhorse, a workhorse, etc. Also, “type” could apply to a region or culture a kind of horse could be found. In other words, horses were classified and bred according to their job or regional isolation, not according to their bloodlines (with some historic exceptions) or rigid points of breediness. However,

    when the idea of “purebred” became ingrained in a status-hungry modern culture, gene pools were sealed with “closed” registry books, which meant that these closed populations now had to operate outside of their original uses while also exalting specific and rigid points of type to set them apart from all the other newly established “purebreds” to compete in the horse market, which still has unfortunate consequences today. We all know what happens when people try to “one up” each other for status, money and power. Indeed, the conceit can be so extreme that you can hear people refer to non-purebreds as mutts, mongrels or other derogatory terms. And also consider that much of modern conformation and type dogma is based on westernized ideals of “perfection” and so is actually a form of snobbery towards non-western cultures, breeds, types or colors. Indeed, the distain for feral, wild or non-western phenotypes or colors is rampant and overt, despite the inherent natural hardiness and usefulness of such animals, typically more so than the “ideal” westernized ones!

Remember: A good rule of thumb is to know the basics of functional

conformation for an LSQ piece, and regard everything else with a hefty grain of salt.



Artistic Style vs. Caricature:

This is another source of contradiction in model horse showing, and one that may never find resolution (but should it?). And because it relies entirely on your own tastes, it’s an optional quality to consider. Truly, we are  indeed an activity based on creativity, which naturally involves a level of individual expression and unique vision. In fact, many participants find great delight in the variety of interpretations of the realistic equine form, and one

could say it’s one of our strengths as a community. But it also speaks to the

paradox between a desire for “clinical” realism and an appreciation for

individual artistic style, even to the extreme of an enduring proclivity for

caricature. But let’s be honest, there’s no getting around a level of artistic

style in any type of creative product, no matter how technically realistic it may be. We are humans and not DNA. However, it can be said that some artists are more successful at finding a balance between style and technical realism and it’s these artists that tend to dominate the show ring. Nevertheless, those pieces that are heavily stylized can find success too, so there is some leeway in what our activity demands. So, boiled down, it’s important to understand what your tastes are, and what to expect when you purchase models aligned to them.

Remember: An LSQ piece typically has a reasonable balance between artistic style and clinical realism, rather than relying on artistic style alone.



Hairing was commonplace in the past, but is now quite rare, making it more of an option than a necessity. Nevertheless, a quality hair job still has the same high standards now as it did in the past. For starters, the hair must be of high quality material, such as ramie or viscose, and be of realistic tones, texture and appearance. It must also be applied with skill to best mimic the look and lay of real hair and be trimmed and groomed to duplicate the look of real manes, tails or feathers. It must also be styled to be consistent to the representative specifics or the movement depicted by the model. Issues that would compromise a LSQ hair job would be, as follows:

  • An excess of glue along the crest or dock

  • Glue that has yellowed or discolored

  • Glue infused throughout the hair

  • If rooted, if the slot along the crest is too wide

  • If the hair is dirty, matted or discolored

  • Puffy, uncombed and knotted hair

  • Hair the wrong tone for the coat color

  • Hair improperly trimmed, groomed or styled

  • If the hair at the dock forms a sloppy border or is improperly trimmed straight across, rather than forming a crescent, protruding towards the tailbone

  • If the hairing is too sparse as to show bald patches

  • If the hairing is too profuse and excessive

  • If the end of the tailbone unnaturally protrudes through the hair

  • If styling mousse or gel can be seen on the body surface of the model

Remember: LSQ hairing must be precise, neat and realistically done with quality materials.


Closing Thoughts

Despite confusion and differing opinions, LSQ is certainly a tangible and discernable quality. But it takes time and experience to create or identify LSQ, so study, practice, ask questions and observe to hone your eye. And it’s always a good idea to attend many shows and study the work of others up close, and compare them against each other and to your own sensibilities. Undeniably, it’s very important to study truly great work in person to build a mental library of goals and insights. And if in doubt, always seek advice from knowledgeable, experienced people. Also, try to purchase models you’re able to inspect in person first or are able to return for a full refund. Absolutely, the ability to objectively identify LSQ is the single most important skill to learn, as an artist, judge and collector, and the most potent ingredient for enjoying model horse showing.


Recommended Resources



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LSQ Guidelines by Sarah Minkiewicz-Breunig

Monya Resin