Thursday, January 08, 2015

My Cool Old Horse

Last October I bought a cool old horse at My Friends and I in Niles.

The horse caught my eye immediately.  I loved that it was a draft horse (my ranching family has a history of draft horses: my grandpa's Star that my mom drove during haying season, my uncle's Belgian mares, and a hitch and wagon owned by some cousins currently.  I loved the patina--but a bargain it wasn't. I walked past it a second time and found myself envisioning a Christmas tree being hauled home and was tempted, but the price still made me think twice.  Well, the third time I passed it...I gave in.  If an object is calling your name that insistently, what else can you do?

When I got to the register, my saleslady said she was glad someone wanted it.  She just thought it was a cool old horse so she'd obtained it for her booth.   I laughed when I saw my receipt.

(It's a bit faint, but it says "cool old horse".) Yeah, that's the price too.

Getting a Christmas tree for my draft horse to pull was easy--Walmart has bottle brush trees in various sizes and guises every year. 

You might notice that the tree it has a very realistic trunk.  I just pulled off the white plastic base, used my pruning shears to cut a branch the appropriate length, drilled a hole in said branch and glued the tree wire into it.  Easy upgrade!

Next project was giving the horse a harness.  I Googled "horse collar harness images", then grabbed some Sculpey and shaped my own version.

 After baking it, I painted it and then rubbed it with dark shoe polish--it looks just like leather!  All of the sudden you can see my cool old horse leaning into her load.

For the holidays I used doubled-over brown binding tape as traces (the straps that attach to the load being pulled) to let my cool old horse haul the tree home from the woods.

I plan to find some leather shoelaces to create traces as well as attach a swingle tree for a bit more authenticity.  Don't you love the evocative sound of "swingle tree?"  You can almost tell what it is from its name:  a wood piece between the traces and the tree   There would actually be several more pieces to a working harness but a harness, traces and swingle tree will do the job.

I'd been on the lookout for a vintage pickup that needed a Christmas tree on top but obviously the Universe thought I should use a horse instead. Good call, 'Verse.

 Stay shiny,


  1. He is GREAT! I would have purchased him in a minute. Is he plaster or Gutta percha? He looks like he's from the 30's? Love what you did with him, who woulda thought of that?!

    1. Not plaster. Not gutta percha (had to Google that one, knew the term, not the substance). Not wood. Not composition. Guess we'll call it Substance Unknown--but now you have me wondering!

      The horse has an odd rectangular cut out underneath although it doesn't look like anything was ever mounted there. I think she (from the anatomy or lack of it thereof) was just a kids' toy that's held up remarkably well. The 30's or thereabouts is probably a good guess. I think I need to ask my mom what she thinks!.

  2. Well, She is the mystery horse then. In the 30's they made a lot of toys from really hard rubber, often times they were hollow inside. I have a set of old farm animals made this way, but because they were hollow, they flattened out like pancakes Yours looks pretty solid though.