Last spring I was busy helping Nikki, my daughter-in-law, make birthday party favors for her daughter (my granddaughter) Emery. The party theme was “My Little Pony” and instead of buying a whole bunch of candy or cheap little trinkets that would be thrown away and forgotten, it was decided to make a stick horse for each child.
Nikki found a wonderful tutorial online and it’s called the “strapping stick horse”, click here to see it. This is where you get the pattern and a full tutorial with instructions and great pictures on how to make a “strapping stick horse”, or hobby horse, as I call it!
I am showing how we modified the horse a bit from the original, as you will see in the pictures, to make it easier to put together. In our version, the mouth is not open, and we didn’t take the time to embroidery the eyes and nostrils (too much embroidery, too little time, too many hobby horses!), but instead used buttons and googly eyes. If you are making only one or two of these you will have plenty of time to embroidery!
After I sewed the first one together, I realized that I could make them faster using an assembly line: all the ears first, then all the gussets, etc.. I also realized that it was easier for me to change around the order (from the original tutorial) each part of the face was sewn together. I found that if I sewed the ears together first, next sewed the gusset in, next sewed the ears into the slits, then lastly sewing in the mane while closing up the back of the head – this was the easiest way to make sure the ears were even.
The first one I made in the order of the original tutorial, and I found that it was really hard to get the ears even on the forehead. Once you have the sewing done, you can follow the tutorial for embroidering the eyes and nose (or using buttons like I did) and then stuffing the head, inserting and securing the stick. Probably the easiest way to secure the wad of stuffing and fabric on the end of the stick is to drill a hole (or two) through the stick as well as the groove around the stick, Use thick quilting thread and once you have secured the fabric in the groove, pass the thread through the hole once or twice also. I have found that after a short amount of use, unless you drill the hole and pass the thread through it, the stick may come out of the head.
You can make the horse’s gusset a different color so it looks like a Palomino, and you can even use a pinkish color for the inside of the ears! I think the horses “mane” looks best when two or more colors are used. As far as customizing these, another thought would be to buy fabric and yarn to match your child’s favorite “My Little Pony”!
After having made several of these, I can tell you that it is hard working with very “stretchy” fabric, unless you are a sewing pro. Also, when you are finished sewing the head together and are stuffing the head, try to stuff with as big a wad as possible at a time.
Little wads make the head look a bit lumpy and bumpy. 😉 When sewing on the halter, again, we went the easy route. You can see in the pictures below that we did a simplified version of a halter.
Let me tell you – those things were a hit and when all was said and done cost less than most party favors! They also make great Christmas presents! You don’t have to buy any batteries for it (your kids are the batteries), it doesn’t make any noise (but your kids certainly will), you don’t have to feed it and you can “park” it behind the door!
- Caden My grandson, Caden, all smiles with his stick horse. He picked out one with a curly blonde mane and a red halter. Yes, that is a jump house in the background. No, we didn't allow them in the jump house with their horses! 🙂
- Mia Mia, my wonderful first grandchild, with her yellow haltered stick horse. Each child got to pick out their own horse and I don't think there were any that were exactly the same! Looks like there some ridin' going on in the background
- Amanda Amanda, my beautiful grand-niece, enjoying her stick horse. I loved that the horses had different colored halters and manes. Some of the manes were curly and some were straight. Some were only one color of yarn and some had multiple colors.
- Group shot Here are some of the kids with their stick horse party favors! That's my little granddaughter, Emery (the birthday girl), in the front wearing pink (what else?)
- My sister This is my sister, Machell, trying out one of the horses! Sometimes I claim her, sometimes I don't, but I love her anyway!
But here’s the funny part – the whole time I was sewing these horse heads together, I had a song stuck in my head. Don’t they call that an “ear worm”? Anyway, let me explain. Any of you who have seen the series of “The Godfather” movies will remember the scene when the guy wakes up in the morning, throws back his bed covers and discovers the head of his very expensive racehorse. Remember? (eeewwwww) Well, as I was making these horse heads the theme song for “The Godfather” was on a continuous loop through my head! So, if you’ll forgive me, I just HAD to reenact that scene:
For any of you who would like to have a stick horse similar to this one but don’t want to bother making one, I am going to make several and place them in my Etsy store soon, so stay tuned!
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