I want to make one solid point: The Model Horse Hobby is what has made me the (real) horsewoman I am today.
The hobby has opened my world, my way of thinking, sated my thirst for knowledge in all things equine, and is responsible for teaching me on so many levels. It started with custoimizing the Breyers. I would do portraits of famous horses. But I began to realize I wasn't doing them justice. I found my skills, both in sculpting and painting, needed serious work.
Practice aside, having good reference materiel seemed logical. So I researched for hours on my computer, googling images for ideas I had, eventually opening doors to other disciplines, birthed my interest in color and it's genetics. That in turn encouraged me to perfect my eye for breeds, their standards, their flaws, their uses. Yes, it was all self-taught book smarts, so I saught advice from those who knew first-hand more than I. With my files and folders growing (currently at around 20 GBs), I studied photos, videos, blogs, books, the horses at the barn I hung out at, taking lessons in exhange for cleaning their stalls. All in the grand effort to understand the animal I held so dear.
Every day is still a learning challenge. As I've ventured out in the world and rubbed elbows with some of the best, the quest continues. I feel I have a solid general overview on which to build and it has no doubt help me get my foot in the door. In fact, it's what has landed me my latest job... impressed by my knowledge and affinity for sharing it with people, I was one of the lucky few to get a position as a seasonal in the Kid's Barn. To say I absolutely love it is an understatement.
So they can laugh, they can cringe, they can think what they want. My knowledge will continue to expand, my experiences will take me places one can only dream of. Granted, knowledge alone isn't enough, hands-on is the true teacher, and I've had my share of that as well, despite my financial and geographical status growing up.
"Figuring out" a horse can both be done, and yet, impossible. Horses are the ultimate teachers, and with each being an individual with their own personality, quirks, preferences, abilities, and heart, one can never truly stop learning. And there's nothing quite like bonding, communicating, and achieving with someone who doesn't speak the same language originally. Trust and friendship must be earned, never given outright. With so impartial a judge as the horse, I think that's part of the attraction for a lot of horsepeople. A horse sees the truth, and rewards us accordingly.