How To: Make a Personalized Rocking Horse

A couple of years ago, I was delighted to be invited to the 1st birthday of the daughter of one of my best friends from high school. It was my first daughter-of-a-friend birthday party, and I wanted a special gift for my honorary niece. I headed off to the craft store intending to purchase a toy box of some kind, and fell in love instead with a small unfinished wooden rocking horse...

My friend's daughter had a animal-themed nursery with monkeys and elephants on the wall, and I wanted this little horse to fit right in, so I decided to make a rocking zebra. I spray painted the whole horse white, then tried to paint on the stripes. I immediately realized that my artistic skills and tools were not up to the job for such delicate work, by my mom saved the day by suggesting I try Sharpie markers. The fine tips helped me draw precise stripes, and the broad sides allowed me to color them in.

Once the marker was dry, I used a dry brush dipped in green paint to give the impression of grass on the rockers, and gave the entire horse a coat of non-toxic spray shellac. My mom made the little saddle in the picture and the zebra was a hit at the party. My friend now has a son about to turn one, and she mentioned just the other day how happy she is that the zebra will be in use again- not bad for a project with a total cost of about $35.