A few years ago a lovely friend of ours gave birth to a daughter. I usually knit clothes for new babies but this time I decided to do something different. I thought it would be fun to make a soft toy. The new mum has been a keen horsewoman since she was a little girl and has several horses. I thought I’d make a toy horse and make it as much like her favourite one as possible. I found a crochet pattern on Ravelry but adapted it quite a lot, changing the hooves, legs and ears significantly. That’s how I came to make a toy version of Mr Messy the chestnut cob. He’s very showy with a blonde mane and tail. I copied his white feet, crocheting them in white yarn – this worked at the second attempt. I was working from a picture of Mr Messy that had been taken after he’d been through some mud so I didn’t realise he had any white on his legs at all! I used beads for eyes, sewed on a felt patch for his white face and embroidered on his other features then attached a fringe for the mane and some longer strands for the tail.
When our friend had a second child, a boy this time, what could I do but make a version of her second favourite horse, Hettie the black mare.
Having seen the two I made for the babies, another friend ordered one of each of her two horses, a couple of hunters, both bay geldings, Roper and Toasty. I only have a picture of Roper here. but when I made these two I became aware of just how many different browns there are. At one point daughter was following a horse around holding up three balls of yarn so she could find the best match. I only make them now and again, but if I ever set up a business doing these I’d have to call it “Fifty Shades of Bay”!
Before long that baby girl I first made a horse for was big enough to be riding a pony of her own. Here she is with Tansy the Exmoor pony.
Around this time I’d learnt how to do needle felting, and this seemed like a great way to do facial details so I surface felted the little white star or Tansy’s forehead, her nostrils and the lighter colouring on her muzzle.
The other detail I always add are the horseshoes, like on the latest mini horse that I just finished last week – a nice finishing touch!
They are fun to do (though I wouldn’t want to be making them full time) and once you’ve overcome the initial colour matching challenge they come together quite quickly. They’ve always gone down really well with their new owners, a sort of cartoon miniature version of a much loved horse or pony.
Many thanks to A Heatherington and A Straughan for the photographs of their children and horses!