Rocking horses

A rocking horse is a child's toy, usually shaped like a horse and mounted on rockers similar to a rocking chair.

Jousting practice

Precedessors of the rocking horse may be seen in the rocking cradle, the tilting seats used during the middle ages for jousting practice as well as the wheeled hobby horse. The toy in its current form did not appear before the 17th century, though some conflicting sources note medieval manuscripts including references to carved rocking horses, presumably of the toy kind.

antique rocking horse

From the 1800s onward rocking horses became more commonly considered as children's toys. Mostly the domain of hobby woodcrafters, and ranging from relatively crude to finely ornamented and the toys of future kings, it was not until the late 19th century that the production became industrialised.

In 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records certified Cindy and Les Hartness of California as having the largest hand-carved wooden rocking horse on record. This rocking horse was built in 2000 and is 7 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 1,200 pounds. It can be seen at renaissance faires, where up to 4 adults can ride it together at one time.

Hobby horses

The most famous traditional British hobby horses are probably those of the May Day 'Obby 'Oss festival in Padstow, Cornwall. They are made from a circular framework, tightly covered with shiny black material, carried on the shoulders of a dancer whose face is hidden by a grotesque mask attached to a tall, pointed hat. A skirt (made from the same material) hangs down from the edge of the frame to around knee-height. There is a small, wooden, horse's head with snapping jaws, attached to a long, straight neck, with a long mane, which sticks out from the front of the frame. On the opposite side there is a small tail of horsehair.

There are two rival horses and their fiercely loyal bands of supporters at Padstow: the 'Old 'Oss is decorated with white and red, and its supporters wear red scarves to show their allegiance; the Blue Ribbon 'Oss (or "Peace 'Oss") is decorated with white and blue and its supporters follow suit. A "Teaser" waving a padded club dances in front of each 'Oss, accompanied, as they dance through the narrow streets, by a lively band of melodeons, accordions and drums playing Padstow's traditional May Song. The 'Osses sometimes capture young women beneath the skirt of the hobby horse; often they emerge smeared with black.

Children sometimes make "Colt" 'Osses and hold their own May Day parades.

At Minehead in Somerset there are also two rival hobby horses, the Sailor's Horse and the Town Horse. They appear on May Eve (called "Show Night"), on May Day morning (when they salute the sunrise at a crossroads on the ouskirts of town), 2 May and 3 May (when a ceremony called "The Bootie" takes place in the evening at part of town called Cher). Each horse is made of a boat-shaped wooden frame, pointed and built up at each end, which is carried on the dancer's shoulders. As at Padstow, his face is hidden by a mask attached to a tall, pointed hat. The top surface of the horse is covered with ribbons and strips of fabric. A long fabric skirt, painted with rows of multicoloured roundels, hangs down to the ground all round. A long tail is attached to the back of the frame. Each horse is accompanied by a small group of musicians and attendants. The Town Horse is accompanied by "Gullivers", dressed similarly to the horse but without the large frame; as at Padstow, smaller, children's horses have sometimes been constructed. The horses' visits are (or were) believed to bring good luck. In the past there was also a similar hobby horse based at the nearby village of Dunster, which would sometimes visit Minehead.

Source: Wikipedia

Rocking Horse value and price guide

What's your Rocking Horse worth? Here are some recently sold items.

Picture Title Date Price
traditional wooden rocking horse extra carved Traditional Wooden Rocking Horse Extra Carved... 07/2021 £2 295.00
collinson s classic wooden rocking horse expertly Collinson S Classic Wooden Rocking Horse Expertly... 07/2021 £1 500.00
rocking horse Rocking Horse... 04/2021 £1 000.00
f h ayres of london rocking horse lovely colour F H Ayres Of London Rocking Horse Lovely Colour... 06/2021 £999.00
toy rocking horse wheels w tooled leather saddle Toy Rocking Horse Wheels W Tooled Leather Saddle... 05/2021 £934.01
no pictureSee all sold items on eBay for more prices08/2021£-.--

Rocking Horse forum

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Comments (11)
Brandi - June 8, 2021
i have a 1960's playsckool wooden and alluminum rocking horse. I only have found one in a museum.
I am looking to value this?

thank you!
Carrie - June 1, 2021
We own a large radio flyer rocking horse metal springs and metal frame. Have any idea what it’s worth, good condition. Any advice wold be appreciated.
Hi, take a look here for some prices: Radio Flyer Rocking Horse.
Jen - November 18, 2020
rocking horse triang
I live in Ontario Canada and picked up this Tri-ang rocking horse. I would like to get him back into a bit better shape.
He is missing leather ears and his bridle.
Do you have any suggestions on where I might be able to get some ears in particular but also the bridle. Thanks
Poor thing... But I have no idea where to get ears and a bridle for her, sorry. Try Google for spare rocking horse parts, but I doubt if you'll find genuine vintage parts :-(
Michelle - November 2, 2020
rocking horse antique
I’ve had this horse for years , I’d like to know the value and history . Thank you
Sorry for the late reply. I'm not sure who made this horse so I can't help you. For value I would recommend comparing it with similar horses. Probably around 200-400 USD.
Karen - October 13, 2020
rocking horse peverel flaxman norman marcus
Peverel Flaxman Rocking Horse reg. NO. LXXVIX by Norman Marcus
Would like to know what it's worth
Beautiful, but unfortunately I can't find any info on your rocking horse.
Emily - September 16, 2020
I have a large capodimonte lamp of a horse drawn carriage with a blonde lady in a blue dress, a gentleman sat next to her and a male carriage driver. I can't find the same item anywhere - do you know roughly how much this may be worth?
I'm afraid not... You could look on Google Images to see if you can find yours: Capodimonte Horse Carriage.
Daniel - August 28, 2020
vintage rocking horse
Please help me value this as I am trying to sell it for my dad. The horse is not timber. It is either fibreglass or plastic. Good solid unit. Any ideas on the manufacturer and the approximate value.
It looks like it's from the 1960s and it could be made by 'Australian Rocking Horse Mfg.' or maybe 'Roebuck'. Can't tell you anything on value I'm afraid... Check also here: Rockinghorseshed.com.
Norma - August 2, 2020
I have a kings colt rocking horse about 1 m high in as new condition about 14 years old. Can you give me an idea of how much I could ask for it please.
Not sure, can't find anything on Kings Colt I'm afraid.
Tiffany - July 27, 2020
Does anybody have ANY information on the Playskool gliding "rocking" horse? I can only find a couple of pictures online anywhere. I bought one and am looking for an approximate era it was made and potentially a value.
Probably mid 1960s to early 70s, around 75-125 USD.
Kaye - September 18, 2017
Does anyone remember the rocking horse that was actually a tilting horse. I think it was made around the 1940's. Your weight made it tilt forward and backward and it had heavy springs that brought it back upright?
Maybe you mean the glider rocking horse?
George - June 29, 2013
We have an old rocking horse but we are missing some of the loops (or hooks) that connect to the springs. Are these available? Thank you.
Maybe you can order them or get more info through this restoration website: The Rocking Horse Shop.