As usual, click any photo to bring up a larger version.
There are many different types of rocking horses to be built. Some are very plain, some are so ornate that you may not even want them used. I opted to go more for a simpler design, in hopes of it going quicker, and with the understanding that I'm making a toy and not an heirloom. (Repeat after me: It's just a toy, it's just a toy :-)
My design was primarily inspired by a plan in the book Classic toys in wood (or maybe Making Timeless Toys in Wood, I forget. Both their books are worth browsing) by Janet and Richard Strombeck, c1994. I didn't precisely follow the plans. I had different thicknesses of wood, and that affected a number of the dimensions. Also, I redesigned the runners to be longer, with a downward curve at each end. I had read elsewhere that this was a safety feature.
I cut the curves with a hand held jigsaw (or sabre saw, if you prefer that term). Next time I'd definitely prefer a bandsaw, which I think would give smoother, straighter cuts. I found that the blade on the jigsaw would, probably due to the thickness (1.75") of the runners, frequently flex such that I did not get a plumb cut.
Usually I can visualize quite well what I'm going to end up with. I found that hard to do with this project. Perhaps that was due to all the odd shaped curves -- I'm used to rectilinear projects I guess. I've also never designed something to fit the human form before. In any case, not until I started assembly did I really get a good feel for what the project would look like.
The mane, tail, and eyes are walnut and walnut veneer. The body is aspen, the runners are poplar.
Notes for next time: make the seat longer, from front to back. I have this sinking feeling that my son will (physically) outgrow this horse long before he outgrows his interest in rocking. Here's one place where I wish I had not followed the plans (7" long seat, by the way). To give you an idea of the size, the runners are approximately 48" long.
For a finish I first applied a coat of shellac -- two coats in a few places where it seemed to need an extra bit of colour. Then I gentle sanded the raised grain with 220 grit paper. Then I applied several coats of Flecto Varathane diamond (water based) finish.