Antique rocking horses - Repairs to heads

New noses and ears

Antique rocking horse heads are often damaged. Ears crash into walls and lower jaws or even whole noses break off with too much pulling on the reins over many years.
The grain of the wood may be in line with the stress applied and this is a built-in weakness with many makes of horse. Ayres horses usually have the wood grain horizontally across the head and the lower jaws often break at the narrow chin groove position.

Similarly the ears of most horses just split off if knocked from the front. It the breaks are clean, a good quality wood glue can be used to repair the damage and old horses are often found with such repairs.
Broken ears which have been re-attached with large nails are not so good as the nails tend to do more damage to the wood.
If the broken part is lost a new one must be carved. This is done by roughing out a block, attaching it carefully and firmly to the horse ( the most difficult and critical part of the job ) and recarving the new block to fit the style of the horse. A template made from a similar model and size is helpful.

Eyes can also fall out or be broken in which case they have to be replaced with new antique style eyes. These eyes are made from clear glass with a black pupil. The back of the eye is painted to give it the traditional brown colour. Modern eyes of brown glass with a black pupil do not look right on an old horse.

The top picture shows Pommers' new nose, the lower photos are of Jim's broken and repaired ears.

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