Empres, an Arabian stallion that became the pride and joy of owner Prue Critchley of Hamiota seven years ago, has become the pride and joy of children and collectors throughout North America, after his likeness was captured by Breyer manufacturing and released at the end of January.
“The model is really beautiful and so much like him,” said Critchley. “I was so excited when mine arrived — it’s really incredible! To have him recognized in this way is beyond my wildest dreams!”
Empres came to the attention of Breyer on social media. The American company, which is the world’s largest manufacturer of plastic, porcelain and resin horse models for collecting and play, contacted Critchley about producing a traditional-size model of Empres, as it was truly impressed with his history and show career.
Now 22 years old, Empres was born at Michalow State Stud (one of the two largest state-run Arabian farms in Poland) in 1995. With many of its horses being exported worldwide, Empres was exported to the U.S. in 2007 after racing in Poland as a three-year-old, then shown in Europe and used at stud. He competed in the U.S. prior to Critchley purchasing him in 2011, not only bringing him to Canada, but to Bartongate, which she shares with husband Andrew in the Hamiota municipality.
Critchley said Empres was extensively shown in Canada and by the time he retired from the show ring in 2016, he had reached the highest level of achievement in the Arabian Horse Association — Legion of Masters & Excellence. He now has the symbols acknowledging this fact after his name, which is permanently recorded with the Arabian Horse Association: Empres++++//.
Empres was the Canadian National Champion Sport Horse Stallion in 2012. He has over 60 Regional and National titles, and has competed in everything from Stallion Breeding to Western Dressage, Dressage, Western & English Trail, Native Costume, Sport Horse Under Saddle, and Ladies Side Saddle.
“I fell in love with Empres completely when I first saw him — his fabulous type and pedigree — not to mention his history,” said Critchley. “He is the son of the legendary horse Monogramm and Polish National Champion Mare, Empressa.”
The versatile Arabian stallion is one of four horses owned by Critchley. She also has a purebred Arabian daughter of Empres, currently enjoying a successful show career, and two older retired horses — a Morgan and her Morab son.
Along with the horse immortalized as a Breyer model, Empres and Critchley have been invited to attend Breyer’s annual three-day family festival this July, at the Kentucky Horse Park at Lexington, Ky.
As a special guest, Empres will meet and greet some of the 13,000 people who attend this one-of-a-kind festival, which brings the model horse world to life with equine performances, and the opportunity to meet the horses that inspire Breyer Animal Creations.
“Empres will have autograph sessions each day when we will sign Empres models purchased at the event,” said Critchley. “It’s a huge opportunity for him to be an ambassador for the breed and for the Polish Arabian in particular.”
Siring the next generation of intelligent and versatile winners, Empres’s stellar personality, which is well known in the Arabian horse world, will be showcased not only in the real-life world, but also the make-believe world. Thanks to Breyer, his renowned qualities will be forever etched in the hearts and minds of all ages in a 1.9 scale (12 inches long by nine inches tall) replica available directly from the company and at numerous toy stores, tack shops and agricultural outlets.
Owned by Reeves International, which is located in New Jersey, Breyer has been making model horses since 1950. Each model begins as an artist’s sculpture, which is used to create a copper and steel mould. After casting, each model is finished by hand with as many as 20 artists working on each, resulting in a lifelike replica.
Like all Breyer models, Empres’s replica will be distributed throughout the world including Canada.