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Types of Hobby Horses
 By Winniefield Park   •   12th Jun 2018   •   532 views   •   0 comments


How many of us, dreaming of riding a real horse, rode a hobby horse instead? Hobby horses have evolved, perhaps not so profoundly as real horses. But clearly, from very early on, hobby horses have satisfied some sort of need to horse and pony-less children. They’ve been called cock horses or stick horses, and they’ve been a part of childhood for centuries.

Perhaps that first hobby horse was a simple stick. Maybe you would have been lucky enough to find a stick with a crook in it so you’d have a head. If you were really lucky, you could find a bit of twine or a strip of old leather to tie on for reins. Woodcuts show that even adults used these toys at one time. There are probably kids somewhere still making these today.

Perhaps though, you did have someone in your life handy at carving wood. Many of these earliest hobby horse toys were made of wood with carved heads and long carved sticks over which the ‘rider’ straddled. At the end of the stick might be a wheel, or a pair of wheels that would bump along the ground as you rode your horse. Or, the stick might have a wisp of real horse tail attached to it

A picture of Don Diego from 1577 shows the child holding a hobby horse with an intricate horse head and front legs on it along with a small saddle and reins. Another painting from the era also show what appears to be a stuffed toy with a fuzzy mane.

Don Diego Hobby Horse
Don Diego Hobby Horse c.1577

Hobby horses have been made of many materials. There are ones of metal and papier mâché. Many work socks have been turned into horse heads by loving grandmas. They may be knitted, sewn or crocheted. My earliest memories of a hobby horse was an orange plastic horse head, attached to a white plastic stick that terminated in a springy puck shaped thing that went beep, beep if you popped it off of the ground. I think there might have been a whole herd of these plastic wonders in my past, all of different colors. These crushed easily, but they were also very light—perfect for attaching to a tricycle or bicycle.



These plastic hobby horses were primitive compared to the type my own kids played with. Simple electronics allowed hobby horses to produce repetitive metallic whinnies and snorts. And, hobby horses weren’t made of colorful plastic, at least not on the outside. While the stick may still have been of plastic, the furry coverings of the horse head were more realistic. You could buy plush bays with black or white fuzzy manes. Or you could get white hobby horses, with black or grey manes. Eventually, you could even get hobby unicorns, with glitter woven through their manes, and iridescent bridles.

A quick search of Amazon.com proves that the hobby horse or stick horse continues to be popular, propelled partially by the growing sport of hobby horsing. Breyer makes a model, and if space is a problem, you can buy inflatable hobby horses. And of course, you can buy any color combination, with or without realistic sounds. If you don’t want to buy one, there are lots of patterns online that you can use to sew or craft one. Which means while stick horses may be evolving, they don’t seem to be endangered in any way.
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