I have a high level of experience restoring rocking horses, and can also identify most makes from F. H. Ayers, G & J Lines, Lines bros, Leeway and Collinsons etc.
When restoring rocking horses they can be returned to their original finish and style, or finished in a more modern style, I offer a sympathetic restoration service ensuring you will have a beautiful, safe, and usable rocking horse for the next generation to enjoy.
The restoration process is as follows
After the removal of all the old tack and hair the horse is stripped back to bare wood removing all the old paint and gesso, then after making any repairs all cracks are filled, after which numerous coats of gesso are applied, (I will explain the technique of gesso later on this page).
The horse then has to rest and dry out for about a week at which time I sand, sand some more, and sand again to a lovely smooth finish, I then apply six or seven coats of a pale grey paint, then follows the tricky technique of dappling giving that lovely light to dark dappling effect, followed by the painting of the ears, nostrils, mouth and hoofs.
Then after two or three thin coats of varnish I am ready to fit the tack, real leather saddle, martingale, girth, saddle flaps, saddle cloths, stirrup irons etc then after fitting the real horse hair mane and tail the crupper and bridle and reigns are fitted (all this tack would be in the style of whichever make of rocking horse I would be working on).
With safety in mind, all paints, varnishes and stains are water based.
I will now explain what gesso is, gesso is a very old method going back to the early days of rocking horse construction, if the paintwork on your old horse is peeling off you will see a white powder substance underneath it, that is gesso, and it is made using a mixture of rabbit skin glue, water and a white powder called whiting, this is heated in a glue pot and several coats are applied to the horse whilst hot, after a few days when it has dried it sands down to a very smooth, slightly flexible finish, ready to take paint.
Now for the safety stand.
Again the safety stand is stripped back to bare wood where appropriate, made safe and secure for the new rider, sanded smooth re stained and varnished, all metal parts are stripped and re painted or replaced with new then re fitted, the horse can then be fitted onto the safety stand and its ready to rock, the horse is then delivered back to the client where it can test the imagination of the new rider.
A brass plaque can be placed on the stand stating who commissioned the restoration and who the horse is for and the date, it is also worth mentioning here that if you like I can place something under the new saddle as a sort of time capsule, something in paper form, say, a family tree or photographs etc.
I hope the above helps, but if you have any questions please ask. Ring me on 07802 669346