‘Horsin’ Around’ series (2) -Rocking Horses
May 25th is Horse Day. I never knew such a day existed until I started blogging and planning out the themes for my weekly posts. So I thought this week would be a perfect opportunity to explore the horse theme.
Today I feature the world of Rocking Horses. My interest in this art form was sparked by the two photos below. The first one is of my 2 year old son trying out one of the rocking horses for sale in Tegalalang (a craft manufacturing area in Bali, Indonesia). The second one was taken from a play school in Cebu, Philippines.
|‘Rocking Horses for Sale’
Photo by Michael Wortman
History of Rocking Horses
The history of rocking horses can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when a popular children’s toy was the hobby horse – a fake horse’s head attached to a long stick. Children would place the stick between their legs and “ride” the horse around. These toys can still be found today.
The hobby horse was replaced in the 16th century by the barrel horse, which consisted of a circular log supported by four legs and adorned with a fake horse head. Crude in nature, this toy mimicked the back of a horse better than a hobby horse.
The rocking horse in its current form is widely believed to have first appeared in the early 17th century. It was around this time that bow rockers were invented, introducing rocking to the world of toy horses. There were, however, improvements to be made to the first rocking horses. Being made from solid wood, they were heavy and their centre of gravity was high, so they could easily topple over.
It was in the Victorian age that the ‘safety stand’ was introduced and the idea of making the horses hollow was conceived. This made the horses lighter and more stable, and gave birth to the idea of a secret compartment being fitted into the horse’s underbelly.
The family heirloom horse could store photographs, mint coins, locks of baby hair and other such trinkets for future generations to find. During this era the style of choice was the dappled grey rocking horse, which was a favourite of Queen Victoria. Her love of rocking horses was instrumental in increasing the popularity of the toys.
The 20th century saw a decline in rocking horse makers, partly due to the outbreak of the World Wars and the Great Depression. By the 1960s it looked as if the art was disappearing for good. A few craftsmen, however, began returning to the rocking horse art, restoring old pieces and creating new ones. It is thanks to the work of craftsmen (such as those working at Stevenson Brothers) that these beautiful and magical toys continue to inspire children and adults alike all around the world.
| “In honor of Queen Elizabeth II‘s 80th birthday, Stevenson brothers built “Tinkerbell” as a replica of the monarch’s favorite horse of the same name and colour. Only 100 Tinkerbells will be made, each retailing for about $8,600.”Info Source
View the gallery of Stevenson Brothers