By Elizabeth Kaye McCall

Image above: Sweetwater’s Marmaduke, a combined driving Fjord had no trouble making friends at BreyerFest. (He seems to recognize the model—it’s Sweetwater’s Zorah Belle, who was once his barn mate.) © Breyer

Kentucky Horse Park became the mecca for Breyer model horses, the real horses inspiring them, and horse lovers of every age, July 14-16, 2023, when 35,000 fans descended upon Lexington to attend BreyerFest®: Driving Forward, joined by virtual attendees from over 100 countries around the world online. “We had lots of first timers, like we always do,” said Breyer’s VP, Marketing Stephanie Macejko, who greeted fans pouring at the entrance gate on opening day. One family wore T-shirts proclaiming “This is Our First BreyerFest!” (that they’d printed themselves). 

Stephanie Macejko, Breyer VP, Marketing, displays one of the rare Breyer test run models that went up for bid at the Live Breyer Benefit Auction on July 15, 2023 at BreyerFest. BreyerFest has raised more than $3,000,000 in cash, to date, to benefit wide-ranging non-profits that support equine and animal welfare. These include children’s charities, therapeutic riding, environmental protection, and stewardship causes. © Breyer

“We’re making horses so accessible to a lot of people, that makes it fun and exciting,” she added. Some 300 live horses enchanted seasoned equestrians to novices at demonstrations to meet-and greets to the evening “Celebration of Horses” spectacle that filled every seat in the Alltech Arena. 

Themed “Driving Forward” as a tribute to how horses have shaped human history, there were no shortage of colorful carriages with powerful draft horses to exhibitions like Alberta, Canada’s Miniature Chuckwagons—miniature horses that race with pint-sized chuckwagons. One behind the-scenes BreyerFest livestream from the stables introduced the individual minis to viewers with entertaining commentary on personality traits and talents. 

Fans flocked to meet BreyerFest’s 2023 Celebration Horse, the bay KWPN Combined Driving superstar Bravour 54 (now a Breyer model), who helped make owner Misdee Wrigley Miller the first woman to win Gold in Combined Driving at Meet & Greets and driving exhibitions. (As part of her four-in-hand team, they earned the United States its first Gold Medal in the sport at 2018’s World Equestrian Games.) 

Three days of nonstop workshops, seminars, and contests (dioramas knew no bounds on Facebook and Instagram) added to perpetual fan-favorite: the Breyer model horse shows with classes for kids to adults. At one of booths,among the scores on site, best-selling author Robin Hutton topped off her book signings for Sgt. Reckless, America’s War Horse with a walk to where the Sgt. Reckless statue now stands at Kentucky Horse Park, recounting endless stories about the heroic mare. Yes, Sgt. Reckless is a Breyer model. 

Winston takes a pleasure drive around Kentucky Horse Park at BreyerFest, giving some fans their first look at a Drum Horse. © Breyer

Saturday’s Live Breyer Benefit Auction on July 15th, put rare Breyer Test Models up for bid in the Hall of Champions at Kentucky Horse Park. Bidders participated in the auction—in person and virtually. “We had every continent in the world represented including Antarctica!” said Macejko. Committed to giving back to horses, animals, and fans it celebrates, BreyerFest has raised over $3,000,000 in cash, to date, to benefit wide-ranging non-profits that support equine and animal welfare, including children’s charities, therapeutic riding, environmental protection, and stewardship causes.This year’s beneficiaries include PATH International, ASPCA, 4H Eastern and Western Round-Ups, The Humane Society of the United States, The Cloud Foundation, Lexington Humane Society, Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, Old Friends, and more.

Opening Day — Some 35,000 horse lovers converged on Kentucky Horse Park, July 14-16 for the 34th annual BreyerFest, while online attendees joined the fun virtually from over 100 countries. © Breyer

Friday and Saturday’s “Celebration of Horses” evening show created for BreyerFest by world-famous Sylvia Zerbini had every seat in the Alltech Arena tapping feet to the country music themed 90-minute show where 4-year-old Lottie Coughlin, made her stage debut with her Appaloosa pony Duke. Her mom, Spencer Rose, made history in the show becoming the first female to accomplish the extreme challenge rope trick, encircling the entire body of her horse with a spinning loop as she cantered the entire arena in the spotlight. Sylvia Zerbini’s star performance sparkling in a black cowboy hat while literally dancing among eight Arabians at liberty (half stallions) stood out among the memory-making moments at BreyerFest. 

For many children, an unending love and life with horses begins with that first Breyer horse model. © Breyer

Next year’s BreyerFest’s 35th anniversary will be held July 12-14, 2024, at Kentucky Horse Park featuring a theme “Against all Odds”. Stay tuned to for details. 

Meanwhile, all 2023 BreyerFest ticket holders (both in-person and virtual) can access videos and recorded content from BreyerFest—including the evening show, workshops, exhibitions and more—until July 31, 2023.