09 May 2020 by Suyen Hu
A long time ago there was a rocking horse. He was a very special rocking horse. He was very big; about as big as a rocking horse could be. But that wasn’t why he was special. He wasn’t painted dapple-grey like most rocking horses. He was covered in the real skin of a young foal, so he looked as though he was alive. That’s why he was special.
He lived in a corner of my aunt’s kitchen. When I visited my cousin I always hoped my aunt would pull out the rocking horse so I could ride him. But My aunt was quite grumpy. She didn’t like to disturb her tidy kitchen, so I didn’t get to ride him very often.
Some years later the rocking horse was given to my aunt’s grandchildren. He was too big for their little house, so he was left in the garden. The sun and the rain spoiled the lovely skin and melted the glue that held him together. His wooden legs rotted. One day a strong wind blew the rocking horse over and his head broke off. And that’s how I found him forty years ago. No one wanted the rocking horse then, so I took him to my home.
I made new legs for the rocking horse and glued him back together. I fixed his head back on and filled the holes. I mended his stand. Then I painted him red after a children’s story about a rocking horse, called Rocky Red. I made a saddle. I painted some eyes too. Horses have lovely soft brown eyes with long eyelashes, but I’m not an artist and the eyes I painted look rather fierce I’m afraid; a bit like a dragon (western). Rocky Red didn’t have a mane or a tail either. Real horse hair was very expensive so I made a mane and tail of string.
Now, after another forty years, all that string has fallen out and I’ve decided to give Rocky Red a real mane. These are taken from horses when they die. They still have bit of skin attached. If you think that’s not very nice, it’s only the same as the leather in your shoes or belt or handbag, though it’s not as pretty. Some people just tack the bit of leather onto the horse, but it looks rather untidy, so I’ve glued and sewed the hair together and cut off the skin. This was quite easy with the tail, but very tricky with the mane to keep its shape and prevent it all falling apart. Yesterday I cramped two pieces of wood to hold the mane together while I cut off the skin, and then I glued and stapled two strips of canvas to hold it permanently.
Two days ago I took off the cramps that were holding the mane and I was pleased to see that the canvas that I’d glued and stapled seemed to be holding all the hair in place. Now I had to cut a slot in Rocky Red’s neck and glue the mane in.
Everyone thinks Rocky Red must be very valuable, but really he’s not. There are too many repairs and new paint. Valuable rocking horses are either brand new or authentic antiques.