When something bad happens
something good comes out of it
...even if we don't see it right away.
By Marilyn Hazen

Collection of model horses

Collecting model horses started at a young age for Cheryl Johnson of Lytton Springs, Texas. Cheryl's parents raised Paint horses in the late 50s and early 60s in Hutchinson, Kansas when the Paint Horse registry was being developed. So naturally, Paints and Pintos were her favorite breed as a child. During her childhood Cheryl's parents collected model horses, passing their love for the hobby on to her. She collected many kinds, Breyer, Hartland, Marx and Hong Kong knockoffs are the first ones she collected as a kid.

"I stopped collecting model horses while I was attending college," Cheryl said. "Then the collecting bug took hold again around 1988 when I started having my own kids."

During a visit to her parents in Wisconsin in the early 90s, she packed up the hundreds of Breyer and Hartland Horse and Riders sets to bring them back to Texas. A few years later, she started collecting newer models, mostly Breyer and Stone Model Horses.

"In the mid-2000s I had to sell nearly half of my collection," said Cheryl. "I was diagnosed with cancer and also going through a divorce. It was a very tough part of my life."

Cheryl had no idea she had any artistic talent or worth this time. Since many of the models she had left were childhood treasures and showed the "love", she started trying to learn to fix them by fixing breaks and learning to use shaved pastel dust to make them look better.

The most extensive repair Cheryl has accomplished was on one of her favorite models. "I have a dearly loved model of mine from the early 60's," said Cheryl. "I let my kids play with it in the early 90's and they lost it. About 6 years ago we found it buried near our driveway. It had obviously been run over multiple times, 2 legs and an ear were broken and lost. His face was crushed and cracked. I was so happy for him to be back with me, but so sad at how broken he was. He reminded me of me. I was determined to learn what I needed to make this beloved model whole again. He is now a beautiful black Paint with a new, longer tail."

"At this same time, I started to draw," said Cheryl. "My first drawing was of my German Shepherd that my ex-husband had taken with him when we split up. I saw that the simple drawing wasn't too bad. I started watching YouTube tutorials on drawing and also tutorials on fixing model horses."

Cheryl uses a 2-part epoxy to sculpt new ears, legs, tails or whatever parts need to be fixed or changed. She can also make a resin cast of a part to affix to the main model. She uses her Dremel to drill holes to insert metal rods/wires into the pieces and the body of the model. From there she uses super glue and/or more Epoxy Sculpt. When the piece is completely dried, Cheryl sands until smooth and the model is ready for painting.

Cheryl has done consignment repair work on model horses for other people, along with some custom models painted like client's horses. She mainly fixes the ones she acquires. She gets models as gifts or trades, but she also buys bulk loads of bodies for few dollars each. She hasn't counted in a while, but Cheryl thinks she may have approximately 1,500 model horses.

"Recently I have starting to learn to sculpt and carve," said Cheryl. "I've been drawing for 10 years, mainly using pencil and charcoal for portraits. Lately, I have really felt the urge to learn to use more color, with colored pencils, pastels and watercolor paints."

Drawing of dogs
photos of her models and wrestlers with props
Cheryl has also taken on drawing portraits of animals and people...and is also talented in this realm.

"A while back I came across some old JAKS wrestler dolls that made me laugh", said Cheryl. "They were close enough to scale of my model horses, so I bought a few of them. I started photographing silly equine scenes with the dolls, horse models and props."

"Fixing the model horses and learning to draw has helped me heal myself," said Cheryl.

If you'd like to view more of Cheryl's work or would like to contact her, you can email her at or visit her Facebook page,