I build rocking horses for the joy it gives me and the kids

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Blog entry by benchbuilder posted 01-29-2014 11:32 PM 1392 reads 0 times favorited 0 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A toy to set around the house and becomes a treasure, this is the rocking horse. I don’t know of any other toy that has the charm and appeal the rocking horse has, it seems only to get better with age. The memories your kids had with it. Then the grand kids dragging it out whenever they come over for the overnighter witbuilh grandma and grandpa, it never loses its charm and attraction to create wonder and adventure for kids. To build this wonderful charmer is a pure labor of love. To build the rocking horse is an experience you will carry for many years. I have built over 200 or so rocking horses and each one is a whole new experience, I love it. Picking a rocking horse design to build is a matter of finding plans or maybe even drawing up your own plans. Look around and check out the Internet, there are about a million or so ideas out there to look at, maybe a combination of rocking horses to form a design of your own. I have designed and built my own style rocking horses for about 25 years now. I have two different styles and each has its own back ground and reason for existing. Each rocking horse I build is a part of me and no two are the same, but still from the same design. To build a different style rocking horse, I had to decide what a rocking horse was to a child. What I found was that it’s mostly a head and tail and everything in between doesn’t matter, the rest is pure imagination, it’s the only thing you can’t design or plan as each child that rides the rocking horse will do that themselves. Oh yes, you can make a fancy body with graceful legs and mane, but a child doesn’t see all the details or how well the construction was done, they see the head with its big shiny eyes that says “jump on and let’s go for a ride”. How can you not love that feeling you get when you give a child a rocking horse of their own with all the wander and adventure it creates in them. So you see, you can’t really build or design the perfect rocking horse, you can only build what you see as a loving toy and give it away, I have sold but few rocking horses. Don’t build with the idea of selling it, build with the idea of how the child will ride and love it. The giving of a rocking horse has more value than any amount of money. I am rich by the simple act of a giving a rocking horse to many children, I know they love it and use it the way it was meant to be. I decided that I could build about any style and it would be the right one, if it’s a labor of love, and it will be, than it’s the best rocking horse I can build. As I said I have two styles, these are my personal favorites, one is with bent bow rockers with bent uprights (legs), and fully carved head and tail. The other has parallel rockers with a swan leg boards that support the seat and a carved head. This swan leg board rocking horse style was one my father made for a cousin on mine more than 80 years ago. This rocking horse found its way back to our home and I rode it across many a mountains and deserts while chasing bad guys and Indians. This rocking horse didn’t have bow rockers, just swan rockers. It has been in the family and rode by most every child in the family. The paint on the horse is worn and faded, the head was just a cutout silhouette of a horse head without ears, but that just didn’t matter, it was a golden stallion to all who rode and loved it. The first rocking horse I built was a copy of the one my father had made; it was a gift for my niece on her 5th birthday. I never realized it would be the beginning of many rocking horses and a wealth of pleasure. I built this style of rocking horse for more than 10 years, I still build this rocking horse, but with a fully carved head and slightly different seat. I had seen many styles of rocking horse in books and wandered if I could build anything that beautifull. I began to look at different designs and found the “The Rocking Horse Maker” a book by Anthony Dew of The Rocking Horse Shop in England. This book is full of wonderful photos and how to’s, a real must read if you’re going to make one or a hundred rocking horses. I thought about carving the complete rocking horse until I seen another book on the History of Rocking Horses called “The Rocking Horse ” by Patricia Mullins, this book is no longer in print, but availible from amazon used . It has photos of rocking horses that were built over the past 400 years. In this book is a rocking horse that I just could not stop thinking about. It was by Ernst Krish, built about the 1870’s in San Fransico, Ca. The rockers, legs and seat, were of solid steam bent wood, with a semi carved head. The more I looked at and thought about it the more I had to build one. But I had never done steam bending at that point, I had done a bit of the glue laminated bending method, so I decided to use this method. I did change a bit of the design to fit the materials and conditions at hand and to give this rocking horse my own impression. This is where I decided what a rocking horse was to a child. The rocking horse I built from this method is the second style I now build, simple but a very good looking and a strong structure. The whole idea of the bent wood rocking horse was such an over whelming idea that I just kept building this style, although I do build the swan leg board style for smaller rocking horses onec in a while.
It just doesnt matter what you build as long as it brings you joy!!!

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