It all started when my neighbor Jim Massey, at the Holly Hill Daylily and Crinum Farm, built a weather vane with a full-size hobby horse painted gold. I wanted one. I love carousel horses and have done a bit of carving in that genre, but the limitations of grain make it impossible to carve a “real” carousel horse from a single log, and I don’t have the carpentry facilities to glue up a blank. Besides, there are only so many things I can carve, and hobby horses exist, and I am not too proud to allow plastic in my garden, particularly when said plastic is as fine an example of an art form as children’s rocking horses on springs. (So sad that the plastic flamingo company went out of business.)
Hobby Horses do not grow on trees, but I kept my eyes open. When I visited my friend’s house and saw her daughter’s Toby in the garage, I knew that the Retirement Home/Pasture concept was possible. The daughter was not yet ready to let go of Toby; he had saved her life much earlier when a dresser fell forward and landed fully on Toby rather than on her after an attempt to mountain-climb on an open drawer. There was no rush. Some time later, Mom needed more space in the garage and by then, her daughter was ready to let Toby retire to a pasture. I think this was in the spring of 2006.
Originally, Toby was a white horse with pastel fittings; not long after his diet changed to grass, his color shifted to gold and silver. Not sure what the mechanism is, but it happened to my white dog after he got rabies and dpt shots and doxycyline for ehrlichiosis; he darkened to labrador cream.
Toby was alone in the pasture for a while. Sometime much closer to Christmas, John found an ad on Craig’s list, requesting a loving home for another hobby horse, this one displaced by a move. He originally lived north of the 540 extension above Raleigh, and he has been quite happy with the shift to a warmer climate at the southern edge of the Triangle.
The third horse slipped into the herd, directed to the downtown area by the same force that sends stray dogs our way. He may have paused at one of the Transfer Stations for a nosh when I saw him first.
John and I had spent an enjoyable afternoon in Raleigh on Memorial Day, driving in the 1994 Indianapolis Pace Car Replica with the top down. We turned off the four-lane onto Old US1 to reduce the possibility of losing hats; we passed the Transfer Station and I asked him to pull in. There was horse #4, resting atop the bulky bin. We didn’t even stop to look hard (the guard wouldn’t have let us take him; no purple sticker on that car…) and went straight home to swap the Mustang for the truck. The horse was home inside 15 minutes later.
Jim’s original horse is no more; he said it simply fell apart after a while. They’re not built for outdoor use, for certain.
A year was enough time to reveal varying degrees of success with paint, so for the 2007 Penguin Party, the current herd got a thorough scrub, primer, and new coloration.I took an interim picture of the herd after they were all primed. I was thinking about a caption along the lines of “four white mice will never be four white horses; such fol dee rol and fiddle dee dee of course is, impossible” when a completely different idea hit me.
They say travel broadens one. Sometimes, it only serves to get a body into trouble. Four horses. A pond in progress. And a memory from a trip to Moscow in 2005. I want to build a hobby horse fountain.
(May 15, 2008 Update) I had some time before I planned to meet a friend for dinner in Pittsboro and stopped in at the Pittsboro PTA thrift shop on my way to the restaurant. I’m keeping an eye out for clothes that will work in the office, as well as hooping costumes. Struck out on both of those counts, but there was a lonely little hobby horse in the back of the store, just waiting to play with the herd of hobby horses in my front yard. He wasn’t expensive; nor was he at all shy about trailering into the back of my pickup. Now he’s waiting on a color refresh.