Charmed: The Story of the Little Silver Charm Silk Mini Horse

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process54-Web.Med

It was finally time to dig into a project that had long been swirling around in my imagination: a new line of kids’ Derby hats to benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Kentucky named after a very special resident of the farm, Little Silver Charm!

But nothing could have prepared me for the big surprise that lay ahead as the new collection began to unfold…

LittleSilverCharm-MattWooley-headshot1-Framed-Med
Little Silver Charm, of Old Friends

Why name a collection of kids’ hats after a chocolate brown mini horse?

Little Silver Charm, a chocolate brown mini with silver mane and tail, is the official spokeshorse of Old Friends. Founded by Michael Blowen in 2003, Old Friends provides dignified retirements to over 150 racehorses whose racing and breeding careers are over.

And Little Silver Charm is the perfect Old Friends ambassador, spreading the word about the farm’s retirees in a way that only an adorable mini horse can. Blessed with good looks, Little Silver Charm exudes a quick wit and a captivating personality. Even the big horses love him!

LittleSilverCharm-MixedPleasure-BarbaraFossum1
Little Silver Charm wishing his buddy Mixed Pleasure a happy 30th birthday back in May 2015.

Children of all ages who visit the farm each year are drawn to Little Silver Charm like tiny magnets.  Like them, I was charmed as well.

LittleSilverCharm-GaryS-Family1
Little Silver Charm getting a visit from jockey Gary Stevens and his daughter.

Named after the great racehorse, Silver Charm, who recently retired to Old Friends, Little Silver Charm finally got the chance to meet his idol last year. I heard that the long-awaited meeting between the two silver-haired stallions was MAGICAL!

LittleSilverCharm-SilverCharm-Christmas2014-Framed

So who could possibly be more of an inspiration to me for a new kids’ hat collection than Little Silver Charm?

But as I got busy with the project I felt like my designs lacked something, a spark of some kind. I kept thinking, Wouldn’t it be great if Charmie could be right here with me, to inspire me?

LittleSilverCharm-RickCapone1-FramedWhen I was a little girl dreaming of having a horse of my own, I spent hours creating make-believe horses out of paper, fabric and yarn that would then come to life before my eyes. All the pretty little ponies.

Suddenly it came to me! I would do the next best thing to having Charmie here with me: I would make a silk version of him and he could then be here for inspiration!

I found two silks in mocha and chocolate to reflect Little Silver Charm’s coat coloring and spools of threads to match.

I wanted this silk horse to really look like Charmie, right down to those gorgeous dapples and of course, the HAIR!

LittleSilverCharm-RickCapone3-FramedI cut the main body sections out of the two silks, then cut circles out of cream felt and hand stitched them to the body.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process4-Web.MedOnce the sewing got underway my machine was whirring day and night as I simply couldn’t focus on anything else until my new friend was finished!

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process5-Web.MedThe ears were next…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process6-Web.MedLittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process7-Web.MedAnd then the nostrils, fashioned out of chocolate felt.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process8-Web.MedThe legs and hooves were sewn and then stuffed to shape…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process10-Web.MedThen came the torso, neck and finally, the head.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process12-Web.MedSoon my little horse was able to almost stand up on his own.

“You’re becoming more real every day!” I told him as I finished for the night…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process13-Web.MedThe next day I found my little horse staring down at the Old Friends Calendar.

“I’m not like these other horses,” he said wistfully. “You said I was going to be a real horse, like them. But something’s missing.”

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process14-Web.Med“Yes,” I told him. “You are right. We need to create your mane and tail.  But yours will not be dark brown like you see in the picture there of Star Plus.”

“Little horse, you were inspired by a very great mini horse named Little Silver Charm, and your mane and tail will be all in silver… just like his!”

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process18-Web.MedLittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process19-Web.MedNow I knew this project was going to take a LOT of yarn to achieve a mane and tail with that kind of fullness, so I made sure I had plenty of big balls of yarn on hand.

I cut the yarn into long pieces, then carefully gathered and stitched the strands together.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process23-Web.MedFinally the forelock was ready to be settled into place…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process24-Web.MedAnd I shaped the strands of the mane ’til it looked like Charmie’s billowing locks cascading down his neck.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process31-Web.MedThe tail was next, using much longer strands of yarn.

At last it was ready to be shaped and attached.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process26-Web.MedWhen I stood back to look at the little horse lying next to the photo of Charmie I just smiled.

“We’re getting there, we really are!”

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process27-Web.MedI told my little horse that Little Silver Charm has some of the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen on a mini and I had to find just the right buttons for him so his eyes would be just as beautiful. I found them at last, and stitched them into place!

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process28-29Finally, I created a halter out of dark chocolate silk, adding rings and buckles for the finishing touches…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process32-34And when I slipped that halter behind my little horse’s ears I could not believe how he came to life. “Why, it’s Charmie!” I said to myself.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process35-Web.MedI grabbed the camera as I watched him take his first look out the studio window…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process36-Web.MedAnd then he met Marmee, my other inspiration.

You could just tell these two were going to be real pals.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process47-Web.MedLittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process48-Web.MedYes, I had been charmed from the very beginning by Little Silver Charm of Old Friends. And now I have to thank him for two very important things.

He didn’t just inspire me to create the new kids’ hats to support all the retired racehorses of Old Friends; he also inspired the creation of the most adorable little studio helper and the little horse I’d dreamed about since I was a little girl…

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process53-Web.MedYou can view the “Little Silver Charm Kids’ Hat Collection” online featuring four Derby hat styles for both girls and boys; new hats will be added as we approach the Derby.

LittleSilverCharmKidsHats-MedleyPoster-LogoYou can also read more about Little Silver Charm of Old Friends at the newly created Little Silver Charm webpage at MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS®.

LittleSilverCharm-Horse-Process54-Web.Med‘Til next time, thanks for visiting us at Hats and Horses!

Sally

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Author: hatsandhorses

Sally Faith Steinmann is the owner and designer of MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS Custom Millinery. A native of Cape Cod, Sally creates couture hats for the Kentucky Derby, Royal Ascot, Saratoga, weddings, teas, and garden parties. MAGGIE MAE DESIGNS sponsors "Hats Off to the Horses", an annual online Derby hat fundraiser for the retired racehorses of Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement facility in KY.

2 thoughts on “Charmed: The Story of the Little Silver Charm Silk Mini Horse”

  1. This is the first time I have read this blog about how your little horse came to life and if this sounds silly I am sorry but I had tears through the whole post. You do the most amazing and beautiful work and I am in love with this little horse just as I am with beautiful Marmee.

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