Custom Dress Formal Walking Cane Horse Head hand carved Handle Walnut Cocobolo Maple Malachite Carve

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Project by Mark A. DeCou posted 11-03-2011 03:00 PM 10306 views 4 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This custom walking cane features Cocobolo, walnut, maple, burled walnut, stabilized malachite, and a hand carved walnut Horse’s Head on the handle.

Horse Head Walking Cane
Serial Number #2011-03
Height: 38” tall.

This custom walking cane has been SOLD.
If you would like to custom order something similar, email for more information at:
email: [email protected]

I couldn’t get any decent light today for photos (cloudy days work the best), and this sunset light makes everything look a little more red than normal, but it did bring out the grain in the beautiful cocobolo wood.


5bemail P1070343

Project Story:
I built this cane and carved the Horse Head Handle for a “commission”, but then I needed to find another buyer once it was finished.
You see…..I messed up.

A lady contacted me about ordering a new cane for a Priest that she works for, since he broke the cane he was using….the one that had a Horse’s Head on it.

She has waited patiently for many, many, months, and I finally got around to carving the new cane with a “Horse’s Head” on the handle….just like I remembered that she wanted.

When I was finished with the cane, I sent her an internet link to the photos, and waited for her response.

She responded that it was a beautiful Horse Cane, but that she wanted a “Bear Cane.”


I apparently didn’t read her email well enough…..she wanted a Bear Head carved on this new replacement cane for the Priest. Ugh, I just messed it up. I went back through the correspondence and sure enough, in her first email, she clearly says that she wants a “Bear”.

Hit this link if you would like to see the Completed Bear Cane

Click for details

I would have kept the Horse Cane for myself…...but I have bills to pay, you know how that is? So I put the walking cane in Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works shop in Wichita, and in 2-3 weeks someone bought the Horse out of the hat shop.

So, all ends well that sells well I guess.


Horse Carving
I’ve never tried to carve a horse’s head before.
I actually underestimated it a little.
I’m not much of a carver, I struggle at times to get what I want from the wood.
It’s not the wood, it’s me and my hands, and my inability to see details I want.
So, this horse was quite a task for me.
Carving comes so easily to some…..I’m jealous, in the sense that I recognize their God-given ability, and purpose to try harder on my own work.
But, horse heads have a lot of details that have to be just right.
If you don’t get the details just right, there are a lot of other animals it may look like….

Frank Family Feedback (FFF):
After the first two days of work, I took the handle into the wife to get some input.
I knew something was wrong with it, but after staring at it for so many hours, I just couldn’t see it.
My wife looks at it for about 5 seconds and says, ”I’m sorry to say, but it looks like a hippo.” Then, she turns back to the TV, something important is happening….it’s another FoxNews Alert. That’s my cue…..back to the shop.

“A Hippo, Really?”, I question myself.
Maybe a skinny hippo if you squint your eyes really hard, but she was right, my horse needed some more work.

I remember back about a dozen years to some family feedback, when my Mom held up a scrimshaw powderhorn I had just finished…... upside down and declared, ”This is a nice looking beaver picture.

Mom, turn it over, it’s supposed to be a Bugling Elk,” I said then.

Ouch, that one hurt, but sure enough, upside down it did look sort of like a Beaver. Mom was right then. Wife was right this time.
Seriously, doesn’t feedback like that make us better? I think so.
Still hurts though, doesn’t it?

I fixed that “Elk” artwork then, and this time I went back to work on the horse some more.
The nice thing about scrimshaw artwork, if you don’t like it, sand it off and start over.
The nice thing about doing the “wrong” cane is that I have something to sell just in time for Christmas.

See, there’s a bright side to every valley…... sometimes you have to look for it, and it can be humbling.
Someone once wrote, “Pride cometh before a Fall.” I need the humbling, I don’t like Falls.

Ok, back to the Horse….....
I didn’t have the nose, nostrils, ears, eyes, and under-jaw right at all. The Wife was right, it did have sort of a skinny hippo-esqu-ness (spell check hates me) about it.

So, back to the shop, and a couple more days of work and I had it ready for The Wife review again.

Oh, much better, looks like a horse now,” she tells me, and stares back at FoxNews on the TV.
That’s my cue…..she’s busy…. take the compliment and get back to the shop to finish up the walking cane.

Not completely sure of myself, I ask my daughter, ”What does this look like Rachel?
Oh, that’s a horse, what else could it be?” she assures me.
I respond, ”Your mother said it looked like a hippo before I fixed it.”
MOM! You hurt dad’s feelings, this doesn’t look like a hippo,” she calls out through the house, “It looks just like a horse dad, very nice work…”, she assures me.

Gotta love a daughter like that. Makes you wonder if she’ll always be like this to me? I hope.
“Lord, please don’t let me do something boneheaded that destroys this little girl’s heart…” I pray.

But my daughter can be a little too complimentary, so I go to find my son.

Playing with Action Figures?
I find my son playing on the floor in his bedroom.
Son, what animal does this look like?”, I inquire as he looks up from playing with Star Wars figures.
It’s a horse, of course…..wanna play Star Wars with me?”, he asks.

I wish I could say that I took a short break from the shop to play Star Wars, but I didn’t.

As I write this, I wonder how a dad could turn down an invitation like that?
But, I did.

Remember that old Harry Chapin song? ”And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy …
That song haunts me from time to time as I struggle to juggle all of the balls I have in the air.
Know what I mean?
Makes a tear come to my eye, as I ponder how short a span of time I have with this boy in my home…..

“Oh Lord, Help me to handle the priorities in my life, help me see what’s really important…and do it,” I pray.

So, with all the input, and self-conviction, I hope you agree it looks like a horse now, at least a little like a horse.

With all of our calls to each other “to get in the shop”, who do you need to stop and play with first?

Another day in the life of a home craftsperson…..
Thanks for reading along and looking at my project,
Mark DeCou


Cane Sample Slideshow: To hear Music, click the Speaker Icon


More Walking Sticks & Canes:
If you go to my Mark DeCou Website you won’t find very many canes pictured there. I do realize that I need to invest in improving my website, but until that is accomplished, here are few more of my canes posted at lumberjocks, thanks for your patience.

Handmade Finished Canes For Sale, Ready to Ship Now: Online Shop Inventory: Click Here to Visit my Cane Inventory Page

- List of Other Canes I’ve built:-

Folk Art & Pop-Art Carved Canes
  1. Horse Head Dressy Cane
  2. African Safari and Elephant Cane
  3. 50th Wedding Anniversary Staff
  4. Carved Face Life-Story Cane
  5. Motorcycle Biker's Walking Cane, Carved Flames
  6. Elk Antler Handle, Carved Twisting Oak Leaves
  7. Bishop’s Carved Walnut Crosier
  8. Nascar’s Jimmie Johnson Themed Walking Cane
  9. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Stick
  10. Folk-Art Smiling Wood Spirit Face Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle
  11. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  12. Folk-Art Pirate Carved Face Cane w/ Deer Antler Handle
  13. Cartoon Character Taz, Folk Art One-of-a-kind Art Cane
  14. Sculpted Wood Spirit Face Cane
  15. Folk-Art Wood Spirit Cane w/ Elk Antler Handle & Scrimshaw
  16. Folk Art Mountain Man Face Cane
  17. Shamrock Wood Spirit Irish-Theme Face Cane
  18. Walnut Wood Spirit Face Cane with Antler & Turquoise
  19. Collection of Face Carved Canes
  20. Moses-Inspired Face Carved Cane w/ Antler & Turquoise
  21. Shepherd's Stick, Carved Border Collie Welsh-Style Dog Show Trial Stick
  22. Carved Oak Leaf Walking Cane with Scrimshaw Artwork
  23. Amazing Grace Music Notes Carved Cane
  24. A Lady’s Elegant Red Long-Stem Rose Carved Cane
  25. Prairie Fire Hand-Carved Hiking Thumb Sticks
  26. A Folk-Art Carved Albatross Head & Snake Walnut Cane
  27. Carved Folk-Art Walking Cane; 'The Greatest Story Ever Told' Story Stick with Scrimshaw Artwork-
Native American Indian Theme Folk-Art Canes
  1. Apache Chief Geronimo Folk-Art Face Cane
  2. Folk Art Native American Face Cane Set
  3. Apache Chief Cochise Folk-Art Face Cane
  4. Folk Art Carved Cane of Shoshone Chief
  5. Indian Guides Chief Big-Red-Cloud Hiking Stick
  6. Apache Chief Cochise #2 Folk-Art Face Cane
Scrimshaw Artwork Canes
  1. Scrimshaw Art Trophy Buck Deer Head
  2. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Praying Mantis Insect
  3. Scrimshaw Art Walking Cane: Floppy Eared Bunny Face & Walnut Barley Twist
  4. Big & Tall Barley Twisted Oak with Scrimshawn Handle
  5. Walnut & Curly Maple Cane with Scrimshaw
  6. Scrimshaw Art Walnut Cane
  7. Fancy Barley Twist with Scrimshaw Cane
  8. Lady's Dress Cane, Red Oak, Walnut, Black Lacquer, & Scrimshaw Artwork of a Purple Cone Flower
Natural Sapling/Limb Canes/Sticks
  1. Ash Sapling with Elk Antler and Inlays of Crushed Turquoise
  2. Knarly Cedar Driftwood Topped Sapling Stick
  3. Folk-Art Carved Wood Spirit Hiking Stick
  4. Nanny McPhee Movie-Inspired Crooked Walking Stick
  5. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Cane
  6. Naturally Twisted Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  7. Shepherd's Crook Hiking Stick
  8. Black Locust Tree Sapling Walking Stick
  9. Red BirchTree Sapling Hiking Stick
Fancy Barley-Twist Style Dress Canes
  1. Fancy Barley Twisted Ebonized Oak & Elk Antler Cane, Serial No. 2009-05
  2. Big & Tall Walnut & Maple Barley Twist Custom Cane
  3. Big & Tall Red Oak and Antler with Scrimshaw Monogram
  4. White Oak Barley Twist Cane
  5. Osage Orange Barley Twist Cane
  6. Walnut & Figured Maple Barley Twist cane
  7. Black Walnut and Spalted Sycamore Barley Twist
  8. Red Oak Barley Twist with Black Lacquer
  9. Red Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Handle
  10. Dress Cane, Oak Barley Twist with Walnut Ring
  11. Bryan's Cane, The Start of my Cane Journey
Fancy Dress Style Canes
  1. Ribbed Walnut Cane with Camphor Burl Derby Handle
  2. African Blackwood and Lapis Lazuli Ball Walking Stick
  3. Pink Ivory and Elk Antler Dress Walking Stick
  4. Coiled Ribbon Twisted Spalted White Oak with Walnut Handle
  5. Polished Black Steer Horn Upright Walking Stick
  6. Mexican Bocote Wood, Elk Antler Handle with Hand-Wrought Fine Silver End Caps
  7. Fancy Walking Cane, Camphor Burl, Maple, Bubinga, Whitetail Deer Antler, Inlays & Silver End Caps
  8. Custom Dress-Up Walking Cane, Walnut shaft with a Camphor Burl Handle
  9. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  10. White Birch & Buffalo Horn Twisted Cane
  11. Walnut Bamboo-Style Cane with Chrome Ball Top
  12. Walnut & Buffalo Horn Dress Cane
  13. Bird's Eye Maple Cane
  14. Spalted Sycamore Walking Cane
  15. Walnut Tall Knob Top Opera Cane
  16. Zebrawood & Walnut Knob Top Opera Cane
  17. Dress Cane Set, with several Material Options Shown

What is Scrimshaw Artwork?:
A Scrimshaw Art Journey: What it is & How to Do it; Five Simple Steps to Success
Click here to go to My Website page with Walking Canes

I usually have a few canes in stock at:
  1. Hatman Jack’s Wichita Hat Works in Wichita, Kansas
  2. Prairie Past Times Antiques & Crafts in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas

You can contact these gallery stores directly and see what they still have in stock. They will ship to you if you buy something. If you prefer, you can also email me, as I keep fairly current on what is “unsold.”

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

Background: My Cane Making Story:

I enjoy sculpting walking canes. Some folks call them Folk-Art Canes, while others call them Artisan Canes, some call them Carved Canes, while others call them Walking Sticks. There is quite a bit of argument about whether something should be called Sculpture or Carving. They could be considered Functional-Art, which is the type of work that I am usually drawn to. No matter what these canes are called, they seem to bring joy to the owners, and I have been asked to make quite a few of them in the past 5-6 years.

I started making canes on the request of a nice married couple I met on a church-building short-term mission trip to Mexico City in the early 1990’s. Several years after our trip, their son-in-law was diagnosed with bone cancer, and so they wanted to get him a specially made cane that he would enjoy using. They had heard from others that I had quit my corporate office job and started doing woodworking full-time. So, they contacted me to make his cane.

Click for details

Sadly, I also built him a casket, another first for me, about a year later

Click for details

Since the time I did that first Cane for Bryan, I have enjoyed the work on the canes that I have been able to make, but more importantly, the people that I have been able to meet and help along the journey. I do make a bunch of unique items and furniture, but without a doubt, I receive more correspondence and thank-you cards from cane customers than any of the other items I make, combined. So, they are fun for me to build, and I look forward to each new person and situation.

To keep a handle on all of the memories, I engrave a small serial number on each brass cane tip, and then I keep a detailed database log of each cane, customer, and situation. The list always brings me warm memories each time I scan it and remember the folks that have supported my work over the years, and vice versa.


Still Want to See more of my work?

Start with each of these links, and they will take you to other organized lists of my other niche products:

  1. Custom Knives
  2. Custom Art-Furniture I've Built
  3. Artisan Hat Making Tools


(This text, all photos, project design, are protected by copyright 2007-2011, M.A.DeCou, all rights reserved and protected, ask permission first! Weblinks to this page are permitted)

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

16 comments so far

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5039 days

#1 posted 11-03-2011 03:32 PM

Hi Mark!

I think it’s a perfect Horse head. I wish I could do one that good!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View jcsterling's profile


476 posts in 4325 days

#2 posted 11-03-2011 03:32 PM

great work Mark, excellent detail. keep up the good work.

-- John , Central PA , on facebook:!/pages/JC-Sterling-fine-furniture/104430802928776

View knottysticks's profile


296 posts in 3769 days

#3 posted 11-03-2011 03:33 PM

You did an outstanging carving job Mark – very nice cane.

-- Everyday above ground is a good day.

View Bertha's profile


13588 posts in 3433 days

#4 posted 11-03-2011 03:44 PM

Man! That cocobolo is pretty. This is an outstanding cane. If you don’t already make pool cues, you might start. Some of those cue makers are making a fortune. Great work!

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 4986 days

#5 posted 11-03-2011 03:57 PM

Beautiful horse head and cane Mark.

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View Woodwrecker's profile


4239 posts in 4315 days

#6 posted 11-03-2011 04:04 PM

Any man would be proud to stroll the avenue with such a fine cane.
The horses head is beautiful.

View mmh's profile


3679 posts in 4462 days

#7 posted 11-03-2011 04:28 PM

Hey! It’s a HORSE of Course! I understand the issues with carving the horse, as I had similar problems doing my first horse head cane. The books I referred to and online photos made things even more complicated, as there are dozens of breeds of horses and each has their own unique flair. My problem was not making the horse look like a dog or a cow. Hippos can be trimmed down, take too much off and you’ve got a giraffe.

Nice job!

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4043 days

#8 posted 11-03-2011 05:44 PM

yep for sure it is one beautiful horse head…..but, as you know you need a bear…so now lets see you do a bear as good as you did the horse, which im sure you will be able to do…bears head are sorta like a pigs, but a lot more hair, bigger teeth and a broader forehead…but you know that also..i know you will do well with the bear, you do beautiful work, we all make mistakes…i hope the lady who ordered it will now wait for the right one…cant wait to see it… and learn huh…...its all ok…when it comes down to what is really important in life, this is just not one of them…so no sweat…...grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View cathyb's profile


843 posts in 3984 days

#9 posted 11-03-2011 05:53 PM


-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3727 days

#10 posted 11-03-2011 08:05 PM

Wonderful carving.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4719 days

#11 posted 11-03-2011 09:19 PM

Hi Mark;

Looks just like a horse to me. That’s the good news.

A sea horse, that is… That’s the bad news. LOL

Nice job, Mark.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View scrollingmom's profile


1202 posts in 3204 days

#12 posted 11-03-2011 09:25 PM

Looks good. You are so talented in everything you do. Nice job.

-- Kelly, Allen,KS

View Karson's profile


35221 posts in 5140 days

#13 posted 11-04-2011 03:58 AM

Mark: A great job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View scott shangraw's profile

scott shangraw

513 posts in 4809 days

#14 posted 11-04-2011 06:29 AM

Nice cane Mark Too bad it’s the Wrong animal !!!!Sounds like some thing I would do. I always have Steph double check what I’m suppose to be making I’ve found the old memory it’s not what is used to be.Now get to work on the BEAR!!!!!

-- Scott NM,

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5145 days

#15 posted 11-04-2011 02:27 PM

Oh thanks buddies for encouraging me.
And yes Lee, if you turn the handle upwards, I can see the Seahorse you see.

Thanks everyone… on to the Bear.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

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