A Clay Body Custom is a china horse that has been changed/modified whilst the bone china or earthenware clay is still damp. At this stage great care has to be taken not to squash the soft horse while you are working on it, and you also have to guard against it drying out too much by being extensively handled. However, it is a very rewarding process, and can really individualize a sculpture.
The first level is a simple custom, the changing of ear direction forward or back, or adding extra/different manes and tails. The next level of customizing would be a simple gender change or the transforming of a horse sculpture into a Unicorn or Pegasus.
The most complicated Clay Body Customs involve modifying leg positions, or even adding legs from a different horse. Head and neck positions can sometimes be changed and extensive feathering of legs, mane and tail can also be added. Simple tack can also be added, for example a detailed costume bridle on one of the Arabian horses.
The more customizing that is undertaken does increase the risk of failure later on through the firing processes, and that is why any successful custom is to be highly valued. Generally it is easier to make the more complicated clay bodies in Earthenware, as Bone China has a memory (it will always try to return to the original cast state) making it very difficult to make structural changes to bone china horses.
One of the main attractions of a clay body custom china horse is that it is possible to to take a horse or pony from my standard range and customize it into a portrait of your favourite horse. This makes a permanent mini replica of your friend to keep for ever. Alternatively an excellent award for a special presentation or a unique gift for a loved one.