Breyer Horse Restoration: Removing Acrylic Paint Part 1

In honor of Golden Oak Stables‘ workshop day being held next weekend I wanted to do something a little special.

Today we’re going to take a look at Breyer horse restoration. Breyer horse restoration is a very complicated trade, it takes hours of time and years of skill, but done correctly it can produce beautiful results. Breyer horse restoration artists are few and far between and finding a good one is hard, for today we’ll focus on something that you can try yourself.


  • Breyer Horse that has been repainted with Acrylic
  • Bucket
  • Water
  • Acrylic Brush Cleaning soap
  • Regular toothbrush
  • Electric toothbrush
  • Toothpicks
  • Papertowels

Everyone has done it once, gotten excited about repainting and slapped some paint on a beloved model, and even if you haven’t, you’ve probably come across one in your travels that was badly repainted. Today we’ll learn part one of removing acrylic paint from an original finish Breyer Horse.


Restoration takes hours upon hours, and can be extremely frustrating. I would only suggest doing it if the horse is rare, hard to find, or sentimental. There are times when its just going to be cheaper to buy a new model.

This Breyer has been repainted using Acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is a water based and water soluble paint that is commonly used for painting Breyers. You can check if the paint is acrylic by trying to flake it lightly with a fingernail. Be VERY careful not to scratch the model. If it flakes easily, its probably acrylic.


The first step is to initially loosen the paint. Place your horse in a large bucket and fill it up with water. Its best to do this outside so that you don’t make a bit mess indoors. You may need to use something to weigh your horse down, Breyers are hallow and will float, wet rags work well for this. Start off by leaving him in there for a few hours.


After that you’ll want to work on your horse immediately. Using a clean toothbrush start scrubbing lightly. Areas of paint on the body will be easiest to get off. Manes and tails will be difficult. There are crevices that require lots of time and detail work, we’ll cover that in part two. At this time though you can start loosening it by scrubbing it too, but don’t expect it to come off on your first try.

If you still have stubborn paint on the body after scrubbing with the toothbrush, try using a bit of acrylic brush soap. Acrylic brush soap is created to remove acrylic paint from paint brushes, and it works similarly by loosening the paint.



Next week we’ll finish up with the mane and tail. Don’t give up! This takes time but at the end you’ll feel so great knowing you brought back a horse to its former beauty!


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3 Responses to Breyer Horse Restoration: Removing Acrylic Paint Part 1

  1. […] tail. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at last week’s part one, you can click here to read […]

  2. Hi — I know this is a pretty old post, but thank you! I just ran across a pretty rare early 1960s glossy model with a painted mane and tail (and a stripe down his face); I’m hoping it’s acrylic. Do you know if there are any different techniques, or any special conditions I need to watch out for when it comes to an older glossy model?

    • You’re much safer with a glossy model actually. The glossy finish really helps to protect it. You can also look for a product called Lestoil at your local grocery store in the cleaning section. It’s safe to submerge a model in, undiluted, and will remove many kinds of paint. Good luck!

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