This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn an affiliate commission if you click on a link and purchase an item at no additional cost to you. All opinions are my own.
I have always loved horses. Real ones, toy ones, stick ones. I knew that I wanted to find a vintage rocking horse for my daughter so she could start her own horse collection. I had looked at different patterns online for building my own, but was so excited when I found a vintage one at Junk Jaunt!
Junk Jaunt is basically a (almost) 500 mile garage sale full of antiques, garage sale items. You can pretty much find anything you are looking for there, although it may be covered in rust or a layer of dust! This is the same place I found the rocking chair that I ended up refinishing. This little horse had seen lots of love in its day.
The New Horse
The back of this vintage rocking horse was almost completely void of any pattern, it had been rubbed off by little bottoms riding off chasing imaginary cows. It must have spent some time in a barn or garage as there were fly spots on it. It was missing the little bell that goes under the belly…how did I know it was supposed to have a little bell? I’ll get to that in a second. Needless to say, it needed a complete makeover before I’d let my daughter climb on its back.
I found the horse at the very last Junk Jaunt stop I made that day. My daughter and I were both getting tired, and I was getting hungry. It’s usually all downhill from there. We walked into the building and there it was! I only paid $5 for it. I was pretty excited when I loaded it in the pickup and off we went.
A couple days later I was down visiting my Mother-in-law, and I mentioned the horse I had found so cheap. She told me of the little rocking horse that my Father-in-law had when he was a child. It was down in the basement, so she brought it up for my daughter to ride. You can imagine the look on my face when she brought up the EXACT SAME HORSE I had found. Red and blue legs, printed face and back, although hers was in much better condition. And it had a little bell under its tummy.
I began by scrubbing the horse down with disinfectant. Who knows what it had seen in its life, but I could guess it had bunked with mice at some point.
I scrubbed off any leftover design on the back piece. Rinse and let dry.
After it was all dry, I took it completely apart. Thankfully it was all screwed together, not glued. I used my Ryobi Palm Sander to sand the back, and some of the paint along the mane and sides. (In hindsight, I probably just should have left it and painted over it, since it could have had lead in the paint.)The head was a challenge because I didn’t want to ruin the print on it, so I removed it and lightly washed with soapy water.
I laid all of my pieces out on a piece of cardboard and began the painting process. I used two different brands of chalk paint that I had on hand from Hobby Lobby.
The white was DecoArt Chalk Acrylic in “Lace.” The grey was FolkArt Home Decor Chalk in “Castle.”
After the paint was dry I put everything back together and my, my, did she look pretty! I decided to use some acrylic paints I had on hand to touch up the face in the areas where it had faded. I toned down some of the really bright red and blue colors since that was nowhere else on the horse now.
Attach the Fur
I had bought a yard of faux fur at Hobby Lobby. I cut it to fit the horse’s back, and then a strip for the mane. The fur doesn’t give much cushion, and I didn’t want a little chin hitting the hard wood under the mane if her horse were to buck, so I cut a strip of foam cushion to put in between. Worked great! I used Elmer’s glue to attach the fur and foam. Make sure you add enough to keep it in place!
My daughter and her little horse have traveled many miles together now, and the little pony still looks just as cheerful as ever (although she does need a few paint touch ups). I had to replace the wooden dowel handles after they completely snapped off (and still need to paint them)! I am very happy with how well the chalk paint has held up. This was such a fun and inexpensive project. I love finding antiques and bringing them back to life.
Maybe you’ll find a little red and blue little vintage rocking horse somewhere…