The modern rocking horse, made mobile by curved wood runners or springs, has been a fixture of childhood for most of the 20th Century. The swing and sway of riding an animal undoubtedly has primordial appeal, dating to the time when animals were first domesticated by humans.
This chapter presents detailed instructions for building three different, but equally delightful, rocking horses. The first version, shown in the photo at left and beginning on page 64, comes closest to duplicating the shape, coloring, and appearance of a horse. This horse is attached to a sturdy stand by means of metal rods fixed to the animal’s hooves.
The rods enable the horse to swing pendulum-like without any danger of the toy falling over.
Among the most useful features of this horse are the footrests positioned outside the stirrups. By fastening wood blocks to the rests, you can fit the horse to the size of the child using it.
Despite its elegance and realistic appearance, the horse is relatively easy to assemble from either solid wood or plywood. Can ing the lifelike details of the head and tail, and the shaping of the body will provide an opportunity to expand—or display—your woodworking skills.
The swinging horse shown beginning on page 78 relies on a more stylized rendering of the equine form, but it has several ingenious features. First, it is easy and inexpensive to build from 2- by-4 stock. Second, some of the parts pivot, enabling the horse to be folded and stored. Third, the horse has two seats, a small one for a young child and a larger one behind for an older child or adult. Finally, as shown in the photo at left, the head fits onto the framework with a glueless mortise-and-tenon, allowing different heads to be used.
The final project, featured starting on page 82, is a more traditional rocking horse for a toddler. Easy to build, this horse sits on bent-laminated runners and has a saddle seat supported by a cross beam. This horse stands close to the ground, making it ideal for the small child who is not quite ready for a swinging or stand-mounted animal.
Fart of the allure of a rocking horse is a lifelike finish. Refer to the Toy and Crafts Basics chapter starting on page 12 for information on choosing and applying child-safe paints and finishing products. To protect the young users of these horses, round over all contours and edges, sand all surfaces smooth, and avoid any sharp corners or pinch points.
The stand-mounted horse shown at left, built by Don Bidder of Swan River, Manitoba, is designed to adapt to its rider’s growth spurts. For a child whose legs do not reach the footrests, wood blocb can be fastened to the rests. As the child grows, smaller blocks can be used or removed altogether. The horse features a hand-carved head and tail, a leather halter, and a suede saddle.