Kings Lynn
01553 670500.


Hand crafted to your exact requirements by Chris Ward

Restoring your Rocking Horse, how I approach it.
  If possible it is best to bring your horse enabling me to complete a full appraisal, probably identify the maker and age. Then we can discuss whether its possible to restore it to as near original condition as possible, keeping and using as many original parts and features as possible. Hopefully the original paint is ok to touch up and reseal, If not and the base gesso is stable I may be able to just sand the existing gesso, fill and improve the base while retaining the bumps, blemishes and character it has earned over the years.
  There could be problems hidden under paint such as woodworm which apparently prefers just certain timbers and it seems to be beech on the pillars and legs which is often attacked so new parts will be made as required.
  I’m always very keen to retain as much of the original finish and patina as feasible to maintain authenticity.
  However it may need a complete strip and we can then discuss the finish required and the amount of antiquing required.
  If you are unable to bring your horse for an onsite appraisal you can email me with details and pictures (see below) and it can all be discussed by phone or email.  Or of course it could be done by post!!!!      
  Following the assessment I can then give you an estimate of restoration costs.

My Procedure.
  For a full strip the first job is to remove the old paint and gesso with rasps, sanders, sandpaper etc. taking great care around the eyes if they can be retained.
  Then repairs to leg joints, maybe new legs or anything else needed to give a strong, stable body. Gaps and holes in the body have timber put in where possible rather than just filler as the finished result has more chance of expanding and contracting with the seasons and central heating, without too many minor cracks.
  Its then sealed and new gesso applied. This is rabbit skin glue and gilder’s whiting, applied hot with a brush and then after a considerable time drying it is then sanded smooth which gives a porcelain like finish.
  Then I reseal, paint multiple base coats followed by the familiar traditional dappling all done by hand and eye. This is followed by subtle antiquing if required and final sealing coats.
  The tack is then made using your original tack as patterns if available or from authentic patterns and using top quality leather and materials.
  After this of course the hair is attached which comes from horse tails which are fully cured and cleaned.
  Turning to the stand, invariably there is serious wear in the pivot joints which are remade with new bearing strips.
  The joints are remade or renewed if new parts are required.
  A lot of stands were originally lacquered but have often been painted subsequently. It may be possible to strip back to bare timber then re-polish but sometimes the old paint is so engrained it is too deep to remove. In which case it is repainted in traditional colours which were sometimes originally used, probably a nice green.




This lovely Lines horse from the 1860’s needed a very carefull light restoration. As can be seen above new ears were made then the ears gessoed followed by painting. The rest of the paint was then touched in and resealed. Followed by new hair and tack, The chairs either end of the rocker (for a 3 seater horse) weren’t replaced as my customer wanted it as he remembered it.

Chris Ward Rocking Horse Logo-opt02


This horse when it was stripped had a metal and fibreglass leg you can see here. It must have been woodworm attacked as you can see in the other leg. I made a new leg, the other one was still strong enough to allow me to just treat the woodworm.


This is the same horse with leg replaced and ready to be gessoed.


Horses are sometimes left in damp sheds and can arrive in kit form as seen here.


This one needed new timber infill for missing pieces during reassembly.


Here is the same horse assembled ready for stripping then gessoing.

To send me details and pictures of your horse to be restored please click here

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