The Most Famous Stuffed Horses in Country Music

IMG_1091My family and I have attended many country concerts across Southern California in the past eight years. In 2012, we began to notice stuffed horses in the front row of concerts for artists such as Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, and Keith Urban. After seeing two grown men dressed in red, white, and blue suits get on stage with Luke Bryan and perform “Country ‘Boy’ Shake it for Me” while holding stuffed animals and wearing flashing horse necklaces, I had to know the story. I learned that this was not the first time they performed with Luke Bryan on stage. In fact Luke called them out from the crowd by name at a concert in Georgia and invited them on the stage.  (Video of them begins at 1:05)

My family and I met Joshua Zeyak, 30, in October 2013 IMG_3253at a Luke Bryan Concert in San Diego, CA where he was tailgating wearing a bright green shirt with his name printed on the front, hot pink shorts, a horse belt buckle, and cowboy boots. We recognized the stuffed horses sitting on top of his truck right away and began the conversation.

One day in 2009, middle school teacher Leo VanWarmerdam, 28, used small plastic animals to reward his students for good behavior in his classroom. Later that night, at a bar in Corona Del Mar, CA, he discovered the animals were still in his pocket. Having some fun, Leo placed a small plastic horse on the rim of his drinking glass and passed the others around to his friends. Soon after, the entire bar wanted to join in the fun leaving Leo with no more animals.

The next time out country music fan, Josh, a friend of Leo’s, brought a bigger version of the plastic horse for his cup, and the obsession grew from there. Whenever the horses were brought out strangers at every bar, party, or concert wanted to get involved!

IMG_1092Eventually the horses grew in size and now are familiarly recognized at country concerts across Southern California. Men and woman of all ages are drawn to the horses and the personalities behind them.

After meeting Josh and his sister, Jenna, in San Diego our families began to plan what concerts we were going to next. Three years and over 25 country concerts later, I can say that Josh, Jenna, and the rest of the “pony” group are like family to me.

In order to capitalize on the popularity of these horses we finally decided to create a following for them on social media. As a Public Relations student I was automatically chosen to take charge of this task for “experience” as my dad said. I don’t know how promoting stuffed horses will look to future employers, but in the end it was all for fun and games.

IMG_4111We now have a Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and website for Pony Boys USA! Here is where we share our fun experiences within the country music world. Whether it’s on stage at concerts (pictured on the right with Eli Young Band) or backstage hanging out backstage with artists’ people get a kick out of the crazy fame these horses have gained.

It may be a strange connection to country music, but Pony Boys USA and all the people involved have enhanced my experience as a country music fan. Not only do I attend more country music concerts but I also get the chance to learn how to make a website and promote a new brand. I have no idea where this will go, if anywhere, but the bottom line is we have a great time and I enjoy the added benefits of watching my “brother” sing on stage with Keith Urban all because of some small horse obsession.



Filed under Blog Post 2, Concert, Country Pop, Keith Urban, Live Music

5 Responses to The Most Famous Stuffed Horses in Country Music

  1. Mae

    This is a really entertaining post! I think its so cool when performers show their appreciation to having a signature audience figure. It reminds me of random things like the San Antonio Spurs Jesus fan and Steve Aoki always throwing cake at the audience during his shows. There becomes such a better connection between the fans and the performers they have paid to go see because it brings the two together in a much more personal way, as if the performer is just as happy to be there as the fans are. It’s so cool that you’ve learned so much about the pony boys, I personally didn’t know this was a thing but i think its unique and hilarious and i’ll try to look out for this next time.

  2. Paige Hinkle

    The title of this post definitely caught my eye and sparked curiosity. This story shows how fans are just as important for creating a good (or bad) experience as the performer. Its great that these people are able to make people smile and influenced you to become even more involved in country music. Not to mention that it really was a perfect social media project for somebody studying public relations. I would have liked to know how successful your social media accounts are? It would be really cool if you tagged artists in your posts since they seem to already be aware of the ponies from the concerts. That’s definitely an easy way to get a lot of recognition and make lots of people smile!

  3. Olivia English

    I loved reading this post! I had never heard of these horses before reading this, and I really loved learning the back story of them as well. I think it’s so cool that you’ve gotten to be such a close part of this tradition, and especially with your family. The idea to create a social media following for these horses and for Josh and Leo was genius! That’ll be such a great story to tell for the rest of your life, and being an advertising student myself, I can see how great of an opportunity that will be for you in the future and career wise. Great post, Cassidy!

  4. Drew Scherger

    I thought this was a very original idea for a post. I’ve never heard about this country subculture. It’s funny how widespread this trend became if it was able to get exposure with such big artists like Eric Church, Lady Antebellum, and Keith Urban. Its cool how you’ve become involved with this group and seem to be an insider now. It would be interesting to see if other music subcultures like this started springing up around the country with social media becoming bigger and bigger. It’s great that this became an opportunity for you to see more music and travel as well.

  5. Lee Allen

    This was such an interesting post, and a very creative topic too! Reading this felt like reading a story, wanting to know what will happen next, eager to get to the next paragraph. That is so funny that this stuffed horse thing exists, I have never heard of it, and the fact that you learned the story from a primary source is pretty sweet. I’m sure you could’ve just read about it, but you actually got to meet him and now are contributing to the cause! Glad I read this, it’s a really interesting change of pace than all of the other blogs that we think of ourselves. Yours is a real story, and it’s awesome that you got this opportunity!

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