How To Choose A Rocking Horse

Rocking horses have long been around as the favorite kids toys. As a matter of fact, they arenot just for entertainmnet. Ride-on toys allow children to improve their basic coordination skills and develop their imagination.

Table of Contents Hide

What's the history of a rocking horse?

Rocking horses have been treasured toys for youngsters since the 17th century. It is believed that the idea of rocking horses originated with the hobby horse, a stick with a horse’s head.

Children would place the stick between their legs and pretend to ride. Eventually, someone got the idea of putting rockers on a log and making it into a horse. However, this design had an unfortunate tendency to topple over.

Soon, however, someone had the idea of making the horse’s body hollow, more like a small barrel. This led to adding a secret compartment in the horse’s belly where family treasures could be hidden.

Victorian Rocking Horses

Queen Victoria loved rocking horses. By the time of her reign, the horses had been placed on bow rockers because these were considered to be the safest.

The longbows helped prevent rocking forward or back too far, and the curved rockers could be reinforced with stabilizing bracers. The carved horses in the Buckingham Palace collection include several dapple grays because these were the queen’s favorite horses.

Brown Polyester Plush Toy Rocking Horse
Brown Traditional Metal Wooden Rocking Horse
Traditional Birch Plywood Rocker Horse
White Traditional Wooden Rocking Horse
Pink Classic Wooden Rocking Horse
Wooden Grey White Stars Rocking Horse

Spring Rocking Horses

By the 19th century, someone got the idea of putting wheels on the horses, and as bicycles took off as alternative transportation, pedals instead of just foot power. In 1858, Philip Marqua developed a design for a spring rocking horse and registered the patent.

Toy manufacturing was set aside during the two world wars, but resumed during the 1950s. Wonder Toy Company developed a horse made of molded plastic to use with the spring platforms. These horses provided many children with hours of fun.

Kids Plush Toy Spring Horse With Realistic Sounds
Large White Gold Mechanical Pony Horse
Elephant Baby Rocking Horse Wooden
Black White Child Rocking Horse Toy
Princess Hand Painted Wooden Rocking Horse
Motorcycle Wooden Kids Rocking Horse

Modern Toy Steeds

Today, you can buy a wide variety of rocking horses. Some will have long wooden rockers, just like a traditional rocking chair. Others are mounted on springs, using variations of Marqua’s original design.

Designs for younger children are smaller and are set up for toddlers to be able to mount the horse and ride with only a minimal distance to fall.

The steeds themselves have developed some changes. They might be elephants, giraffes, lions or even unicorns. Or they might not be horses at all, but instead a variation of the Russian swan sleighs or even a rocking airplane!

Instead of being plain wood, they are often plush fabric on a framework, creating a cuddlier, friendlier toy for little ones. You can still get the molded horses on springs.

White Swan Princess Wooden Rocking Horse
Zebra Animal Rocker Plush Rocking Horse
White Pink Traditional Unicorn Rocking Horse
Red Wood Polyester Ladybug Rocker
Zebra Sheep Rocking Horse For Toddlers And Babies

What type of rocking horse stand should you choose?

The most common types of rocking horse stands are the swing stand and the bow stand.

  • The bow stand has two curved pieces attached to the toys' legs, which allows it to rock when it’s being moved.

  • Swing stands have turn poles for stability and take less room than a bow stand. However, they consist of moveable parts and as such, they are more prone to breaking.

  • Toy horses come on wheels, too. In fact, the horse on wheels design dates back to before the Romans. It is a user-friendly design that helps youngsters begin to develop leg muscles and coordination. These little guys now come in plush, too, which helps save on furniture and adult care-giver’s shins.

  • For slightly older children, there is the step-boat rocker. Turn it one way, and it is a rocking boat that can encourage imaginative play for young pirates. Arrrrgh, Mateys! Turn it over the other way, and it becomes a step exerciser to get some of that excess energy out.

Plush Rocking Horse Pink Ride Elephant
Pony Cycle Chocolate Brown Horse Riding
Yellow Giraffe Rocker With Wheel
White Gold Toy Rocking Horse With Wheels
Purple White Pink Learning Unicorn
Multi Function Kids Rocking Horse

How to get the best rocking horse for your child?

When buying for any child, of any age, think about what the child likes. Consider your child's favorite things. If your kid loves stories about horses, old westerns or even knights in shining armor, then a rocking horse might be perfect. But if your youngster thinks more of African safaris or journeys into fantasy worlds, then an elephant, giraffe or unicorn might be preferred.

Pirates Island Rocker Boat With Accessories
Wooden Pirate Theme Rocking Chair Boat
Rocking Hammock Wood Frame And Cotton Fabric
Wood Balance Rocker Board Kid Size

How to make sure a rocking horse is safe for your child?

As with all children’s toys or furnishings, safety is a consideration. No one wants their little ones to wind up in the emergency room because of an injury resulting from play with their favorite amusement. One would think that someone in the business of making toys would focus on child safety, but such is not always the case.

Even when it is, there is also age appropriateness to factor in. A toy that is wonderful for a six-year-old, might be dangerous for a toddler.

With that in mind, here are some things to watch for when buying for youngsters:

  • Stability. If your child is playing on a rocking horse, the last thing you want is for the child to be able to rock hard enough to turn the toy over or to have it fall over on its side.

  • Height. More than one youngster has broken a bone from falling off a rocking horse. Match the toy size to the child’s height. The youngster will have more fun with it, and will be less likely to get hurt if he or she does tumble off. If you're getting a rocking horse for a toddler aged 10 months to 5 years old, buy a toy that ranges between 17" to 27" high. For children who are between 3 and 8 years of age, purchase one ranging between 29.5" and 43" high.

  • Hand Grips or Safety Belts. If the rocking horse has hand grips or a safety belt, your child is less likely to topple off.

  • Clear the Area. Older children can rock hard enough on a spring horse to make it literally hop up and down. While this usually indicates a need for a bigger horse, it is a signal to keep chairs, hard object d’art, and breakables well away from the rocking horse.

  • Choking Hazards. Make sure that eyes, ears, and ornaments are either a molded part of the horse, woven in, or too large to be swallowed. While it might seem odd for a child to use his or her rocking horse as a teether, better safe than sorry.

  • Paint or Other Covering. Lead based paint has no place in your child’s nursery or toy box. Read the labels carefully. Check toys for paint that is chipped or peeling. Paint of any kind is not usually considered digestible.

  • Check Riding Toys Frequently for Broken or Overly Worn Parts. Children do wear out their favorite things. While stories like the Velveteen Rabbit might invoke a tear, and removing a favorite because it has developed a sharp edge or is no longer stable could produce a few wails, your child will survive the removal of a toy that has become a hazard. No one wants the alternative.