Fur­ther In­for­ma­tion

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horses I work on are mostly of wood,” says Beatrice, “but I also re­store those of fi­bre-glass or metal, or of fur-fab­ric or cowhide on a frame­work. If they ar­rive in very poor con­di­tion, they may need to be re­con­structed. When in that state they are not re­ally worth any­thing, but back to the con­di­tion in which they should be, as they were in their hey­day, they will def­i­nitely in­crease in value, and do so even more over time.

“Peo­ple may have had rock­ing horses stored away, then sud­denly hap­pen to no­tice them and won­der whether they might be of some value,” she ob­serves. The an­swer is that they cer­tainly can be.

This is when the con­di­tions in which they had been stored comes into play. They need to be “re-ac­cli­mated” by be­ing moved from out­doors to back in­doors — re­turned from a damp at­mos­phere to a drier one. “This stage will need to be for at least six months,” says Beatrice. “The horses will need to be re­ally dry be­fore I start work on them.”

The cost of restora­tion de­pends of course on the con­di­tion in which the rock­ing horses ar­rive; prices start from around £850 to £1,200. If the cus­tomer would like to com­mis­sion Beatrice to make them a brand-new rock­ing horse, this cost will be within a range of £1,600 to £3,500 de­pend­ing on the size and other fea­tures.

“I make the body and head of my rock­ing horses in Que­bec pine, a tim­ber that is quite light, shiny and doesn’t move in at­mo­spheric con­di­tions,” she says. “For the legs I use beech­wood, for strength. But this wood has to be treated im­me­di­ately with pro­tec­tion from wood­worm, to which beech is par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble. I find that the pine is nice to carve, and for de­vel­op­ing the shape.

“As re­gards size, they can be from 30 to 60 inches high, that is on the stand to the high­est point of the horse, the tips of its ears.”

The manes and tails are made from real horse hair, the colour ton­ing with that of the coat as closely as pos­si­ble.

“The colours are ac­cord­ing to com­mis­sion,” says Beatrice. “But my horses are mainly dap­ple-grey, although I also have a beau­ti­ful brown that looks so nat­u­ral that you seem al­most to feel the tex­ture of the horse’s coat.”

In her show­room Beatrice might have six or seven rock­ing horses that she has made out on dis­play. With those in need of restora­tion she can have a “sta­ble” of more than 20 at Tet­bury Rock­ing Horse Works. She man­ages to ac­com­mo­date them all, how­ever, de­spite some of her ma­te­ri­als hav­ing taken over hous­es­pace.

“My liv­ing-room is now my tack­room and my con­ser­va­tory my room for paint­ing,” she ex­plains. “I have a great big shed that is my ma­chine-room, a small room off this for stor­age, and my show­room is a sep­a­rate room at­tached.”

Although most of Beatrice’s clients are from this coun­try, one of her re­stored rock­ing horses has now gone to a new home in Aus­tralia.

“It be­longed to a fam­ily over here who didn’t have enough space for this enor­mous horse, so their daugh­ter who lives in Syd­ney of­fered to have it for her own fam­ily to en­joy,” she re­lates. “The cost was al­most as great as that for the restora­tion, with it hav­ing to travel in a spe­cial crate and the tran­sit hav­ing to con­form to all the reg­u­la­tions.”

Doubt­less, how­ever, when this rock­ing horse, like those which go back to a United King­dom home, joins its fam­ily it will re­ceive a wel­come that makes that cost well worth­while.

The show­room in Tet­bury.

Beatrice at work.

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