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Cleaning Your Champions!

I'm sure every one of us has found a horse that would be *just beautiful* - if only it didn't have huge black mark on its back, or the rub on its nose, or that poofy hair! While you can't turn a pig's ear into a silk purse, you certainly don't have to give up on your favorite horse; here are a collection of tips and tricks to help get your GCs back to former glory, and help make them truly the most beautiful horses in the world!

Note: Please be aware that all the tips on this page are meant to be used as a helpful aid, but must be executed with an air of caution. Some of the treatments can seriously damage a horse if done carelessly; proceed at your own risk.

That Wild Hair!

Like most synthetic hair, GC hair is particularly prone to frizzing. The plastic strands become pulled and damaged with regular use like brushing, braiding, or exposure to deteriorating agents like sunlight, heat, or solvents. To help prevent frizz, do not excessively brush your GC's hair, and keep him out of direct sunlight.

Taming Tail Frizz

For a mildly poofy tail, wet the tail thoroughly with warm water (the warmer the better, but remember hot water can stress the plastic!). If it is hard to brush, some regular hair conditioner can be worked in and allowed to sit for several minuets; rinse thoroughly. While the hair is still wet, very gently brush the hairs smooth and straight. Allow to dry this way, generally overnight. Once hair is completely dry, gently brush again to loosen the stiff hairs.

Alternatively, for *really* wild hair, try using hair gel first. Follow the steps above, but use the gel, and let sit untouched for several days. Rinse thoroughly, then let wet hair dry again over night.

Another method is to use a curling iron or blow dryer. WARNING! Both of these interments are hot enough to melt hair, burn fingers, damage plastic; use extreme caution! Clamp WET hair at the base with the curling iron and pull through to the end. Repeat if needed, then let dry as normal. A blow dryer is especially useful for tails that are tightly crimped from being braided. Hold the tail over the blower on a warm setting, and brush gently in as it dries. This will straighten the crimp, but the tail will still be very poofy, and will need to be wet and let to dry again.

Remember, a tail that is too poofy to even brush can still look very nice in a braid!

Fly-away Manes

The mane poses a different problem because the hair is so short and tends to act on its own accord. Some early horses, like Foxcroft, actually came in a "flipped mane" version, where the mane, instead of lying flat, is tossed up at the ends. It is *very* difficult to get hair that has been sticking out for so long to lie flat.

For a mane that is still silky, but just won't fall into a neat roll, wet thoroughly with warm water, and, if needed, a bit of hair gel. While the hair is wet, with fingers or a pencil, roll small strands into place. Continue until the mane is done, then let dry complete (overnight). Doll hair-curlers can be used too, and left in while drying.

For more stubborn hair, use a small curling iron. WARNING! A curling iron can get hot enough to melt the plastic of both hair and horse, so use caution! Thoroughly WET hair, and slip the warm iron in to form a curl. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if necessary. When hair is rolled properly, allow to dry as before.

For stiff or frizzy hair that just won't lie down wet, condition, rinse, gel, and wrap! The wrapping part can be done with cloth or even toilet paper; lie the hair flat against the neck, and start wrapping the length in the direction of the hair. If you use cloth, you will have to pin it in place. Toilet paper will actually hold its place by itself. Allow to dry and sit for several days. A repeat treatment might be needed it the strands just don't look the part.

Still have a mane that won't behave? Try braiding into little section like a show horses, tying in place with embroidery thread. It looks very smart indeed!

Body Blues!

There are two chief complaints when it comes to the body either there is a mark on the horse that shouldn't be their, or the horse has lost some of it's own markings. Because the surface of a GC is very smooth, it is VERY easy for the natural paint colour to rub off. The matte surface is also very prone to scuffing. Cleaning the bodies requires patience, and a careful hand, so as not to damage the original paint.

Spots & Scuffs

First wash the horse all over with plain soap and a soft washcloth. Be very careful not to SCRUB, as this will remove paint and shading! Some horses are much easy to rub off then others, so you might want to test a hidden part, like the underbelly, before you begin. With luck, many spots will come out just like this.

Spots that remain after the initial wash can then be focused on. Using a q-tip with a bit of soap, gently rub the spot in a wide motion. Too much pressure on any one place with lift the original paint, so watch carefully. If you *do* rub the paint away and leave an obvious bare spot, it can be evened out slightly by artistically widening the area of the rub, blending it into the body.

For those stuborn black marks that won't come out with just soap and water, the next solution is baking soda on a q-tip or soft cloth. Gently rub the mark, taking care that you're not rubbing through the paint. This is an ESPECIALLY good method for white or pinto horses, just be careful of natural shading.

Alternitively, a house hold cleaner like Comet can be used instead of baking soda; I have found that sometimes, this will even remove yellowing from a sun-bleached horse, and clean up that nasty overspray on appys and pintos!

Spots that simply won't lift with soap or soda, or are caused by paint (even splatter from the original paint job) can be cleaned away with nail polish remover. WARNING! Nail polish remover is a solvent, and will remove the paint from a GC VERY EASILY! It will also MELT the PLASTIC. Protect your horse from spills, and use very sparingly. Dip a q-tip into the polish remover, making sure there are no excess drips. It is a VERY good idea to test on a hidden part of the horse first! Gently rub/dab the spot directly, using as little contact as possible. As your q-tip becomes dirty, use a new one, as a dirty tip will smear the spot, making it *much* worse. With luck, most spots will come off before the paint, or, you might be lucky enough to work on an area without paint in the first place. Wash your horse with soap afterwards, as the nail polish remover is actually harmful to the plastic as well.

Touch-ups

Touching up of a GC is not only for the artistically inclined a simply rub here and there can be easily fixed by anyone with patience and attention to detail. However, if you are unsure about this, it is best to leave the horse untouched after all, a few small rubs don't hurt the appearance or value of a horse!

To begin, use HIGH QUALITY ACRYLIC PAINTS. The cheaper kinds you buy at a lot of craft stores are not well suited to this kind of work; they tend to be chunky, can crack when dry, and don't leave and even surface texture. You won't be ahead by skimping on the paints in the long run!

Next step is mixing your colours correctly. Remember that acrylic dries half a shade darker then when wet, so you might want to do some test runs on paper first. Add colours in small amounts, using the lightest colour as the base.

Applying colour can be done in a number of ways. One great, easy way that works *amazingly* well is your trusty old fingertip! It works best for the kind of small rubs you see on noses, knees. Dab your finger in the paint, then dab in on a piece of paper until most of the paint is gone. Lightly dab the area. Less is more! It is much, much better to apply several thin coats of paint, then one thick one that will tend to wrinkle when it dries. Let coats dry before re-applying. For small details, like eyes, stars, snips, a fine paintbrush is the best. Once again, remember to use thin coats. For eyes that have lost their "sparkle", a small dab of clear nail polish or varnish will do the trick!

Since GCs are originally painted with airbrushing, if you happen to have an airbrush, this is an *amazing* way to work on your GCs!

Did you know that by now you are only a few steps away from *customizing*? Customizing is a GREAT way to bring new life to old horses who are simply too far gone to restore. Check out all the great horses people have created in the Creation Gallery!

If you have any great GC Cleaining tips you'd like to share, send me an e-mail and I'll post your comments here!

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