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Checkers the Breyer Horse

Sir Rugged Chex—known as Checkers—is headed to Kentucky for BreyerFest 2022! Checkers was given the honor of becoming the first mountain trail horse to be turned into a Breyer Model Horse in 2020.



Due to COVID, BreyerFest went virtual that year, so special guests have been invited to attend this year’s in-person event at the Kentucky Horse Park, July 15-17, 2022. Both Checkers and Mark Bolender, founder of the International Mountain Trail Challenge Association (IMTCA) and creator of the Bolender Method™ will be in attendance.

Photo courtesy Breyer Model Horses

Born and raised in Silver Creek, Washington, Checkers gained fame as an amazing all-around athlete, but especially when it came to Mark Bolender’s chosen discipline: mountain trail. Checkers was the National High Point winner in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

What really sets Checker’s apart is that he does it all bridleless! He takes after his grandsire, Rugged Lark, who was known for bridleless dressage. “I was told once by the people that bred Rugged Lark that Checkers is more like him than any of his offspring,” shares Mark.

Checkers was just four years old when he started his bridleless work. Mark even rode him in a veteran’s day parade while carrying a flag bridleless that same year! Since then, Checkers has done most things bridleless, and people have noticed. His videos on YouTube have over 10 million views.

Meet Checkers the Breyer Horse

At Breyerfest, get a chance to watch Mark and Checkers demonstrate their skills. Mark will talk about the IMTCA and the Bolender Method™, which creates calm, trusting equines that will go over any obstacle they are pointed at by their handler…whether in-hand or mounted. Stop by and visit with them, purchase your Checkers Breyer horse model and have it autographed by Mark Bolender.

Photo courtesy Breyer Model Horses

“We are excited to finally go to BreyerFest, meet our lovely fans and share Checkers with everyone,” says Mark. “We hope those in attendance enjoy our show and take an interest in mountain trail. It really is a sport that anyone can do with any breed of equine, whether it’s a mini, mule, draft, or anything in between. And you can do it any discipline: English, western, Peruvian, doesn’t matter. It really is the only equestrian sport that everyone can do.”

Can’t attend? Purchase virtual tickets and meet all the guest horses, including Checkers the Breyer horse, see all the action and even purchase limited run Breyer horses from the comfort of your own home.

Horse Illustrated

Horse Illustrated is the magazine for people who are passionate about horses. Each issue offers advice on horse health and care, plus user-friendly training tips for both English and western riders and engaging lifestyle features for horse lovers.

View Comments

  • Love Checkers! I am so happy to of had the experience and lesson with Mark Bolender last summer with my lets say not so in tune 5 year old mare Symphony. Mark is so knowledgeable and really helped me understand how to better work with my mare before she turned into a very dangerous situation to have to deal with. After our lesson, which turned into blessed long lesson due to the act of her turning and kicking me with both hind legs, luckily just grazing my hip, both her and I were taught a valued lesson on how things needed to go in order for anything to work out, especially where safety is concerned. The following day was the trail competition. I entered Symphony in just one class, just for the experience and to see if her and I had truly learned from our lesson from the day before. We did just the one novice In Hand course and although we placed I believe it was 13th place lol we managed to complete the course without any dangerous events and actually completed each obstacle without too much fuss from my girl Symphony! Truly was amazed at how much we gained from Mark Bolender's wisdom and abilities! Symphony and I are still learning a lot daily on working together and I look forward to bringing her back to Bolender Horse Park this season to show Mark and the gang just how much Symphony and I have improved and are becoming truly a much much better horse and rider team!

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