Carve a rocking horse head

Rocking horse carving in action


These courses are aimed at those wishing to make a traditional wooden carved rocking horse. We will show you the traditional approach to rocking horse carving using hand tools.

Previous carving experience is not necessary - all skill levels are accommodated and each student will successfully complete the carving of a rocking horse's head during the course!

Three days individual tuition.

Carve-a-Head courses run 10am till 4pm on the first two days, 10am to 3pm on the final day (but we will start earlier and run later if need be!), with a maximum of 6 students on each course.

These carve-a-head course take place in our purpose built carving studio. We shall look at many aspects of traditional rocking horse making including carving techniques, gouge grinding/sharpening, the use of hand carving tools (incl. power carvers) and different makers approaches etc.

Accommodation is not included, but we can recommend several local B & Bs, pubs or hotels, and will send you a list on request. (Please note: The course does not cover the laminated designs.)

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

Use of workshop equipment and all carving tools (but you are very welcome to bring your own); a hearty lunch, usually cold meats and salads, as well as refreshments.
Head & beck timber for medium size horse, prepared ready for you to commence carving (several 'alternative' medium size heads will be offered. You may upgrade to large at an additional cost of £15); price includes VAT.


The Rocking Horse Shop at The Rocking Horse Shop

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The Rocking Horse Shop
Rocking Horse Yard
Fangfoss, York
YO41 5JH

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Christmas
  • Father's Day
  • Parking provided
  • Public transport
  • Seniors
  • Suitable for beginners
  • UK Holiday
  • Wheelchair users


3 days (10:00am to 4:00pm)

Gold Badge
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This craft course provider has been awarded Gold status for receiving 10 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.

The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.

They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.

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Mike Booth - - #5769

Its hard to find new words to describe this course after looking at all the past reviews.
Lets just say it was everything and more that I'd hoped but with great Yorkshire Hospitality thrown in. What a team they have down there. With very little carving experience I came away with a head -- and the rest of the kit to build the whole horse at home. Went on the course at the end of June and I have a completed horse sitting in my conservatory today 2 months later. Support from the Team has been great throughout. Believe me they wont leave you out there on your own if you need assistance.
One complaint -- they don't tell you that this is very very addictive.
One problem -- which horse to do next.
If you are dithering about going on this course, don't, just book it

Andrew Binnie - - #5391

A really satisfying course, executed at a steady pace, in a relaxed atmosphere. There was a perfect level of instruction, anecdotes and fun and we all learned a great deal.
Having done a little woodcarving already, I still learned a lot and it was such a luxury to be able to have three days dedicated to carving, rather than finding the odd hour here and there. Those in our group who were new to carving also learned a lot and were not scared at all as Tony taught in such a positive manner.
Thanks very much to Tony as I thoroughly enjoyed this course and might well be back for another.

Jack Stevens - - #3570

Brilliant course, a nice simple format, watch Tony do a bit then try to copy it!! Everyone on the course made an excellent carving so it must work.
Not only is Tony a gifted carver and teacher all the staff in the shop are marvellous, you couldn't meet a more friendly and helpful bunch.
If you're considering this course don't dither just book it.

Mick Lumley - - #3498

I recently attended this course having never done any carving before. The pace of the course was just right and Tony's patient relaxed style allowed me to produce a good standard of rocking horse head. It also inspired me to continue carving and I am well on the way to producing a medium sized rocking horse for my granddaughter. Good value for money with a friendly group and excellent support from all the staff at the rocking horse shop in Fangfoss. I can recommend this course to novice carvers.

Dave Smith - - #3419

I have to agree with all the positive reviews already made on the 3 day workshop on carving a rocking horse head. I experienced a very well organised course on learning the techniques for using the tools on solid wood without messing up the head right away, leading on to shaping the head as you would like. Just follow what Tony demonstrates step by step and you will end up with a very professional looking horse’s head and a good working knowledge of how to use the tools. I had already assembled the Large Rocky and carved the body but I needed some practise on a head. This was just what I needed. I am now full of enthusiasm to complete the Large Rocky. Most enjoyable, full of fun and a fabulous active holiday. There were six of us on the course and there were six good looking heads after only three days. I could not recommend this workshop more highly. The only negative is that I had to go home afterwards.

Richard Payne - - #3417

This is an excellent course - suitable even for someone like me with very limited woodworking skills indeed. Tony is not only an amazing carver himself, but has that rare gift of being able to pass on his skills with patience and care to everyone in the room. We each created our own carving having watched Tony explain exactly how to do it, from the basic handling of the tools, the working of the wood, through to the anatomy of the horse that is being imitated. He is an inspirational teacher and has left me 'hooked' on rocking horse making!
All the staff in both the shop and workshop are extremely friendly & helpful - as well as being very knowledgeable about every aspect of rocking horses and how to make them.
The museum of Victorian rocking horses is also well worth seeing.
I cannot recommend the course highly enough.

Matthew Grattan - - #2233

A great experience which I can thoroughly recommend. Everyone at the Rocking Horse Shop was so welcoming and friendly - it really feels like you're not just doing a course - more like being welcomed into a community of like-minded people. Having never 'carved' more than anything than the slot for a door hinge with a blunt chisel (!) I was curious to see how well I would fare on what seemed to be a rather daunting challenge, but Tony's teaching is first class and his approach is steady, methodical and patient - allowing you to build your skills at the right pace without ever feeling rushed or overwhelmed. For that reason I found the course not just an excellent learning experience but also a great way to relax and clear the mind. The number of students (6) is just right, and the balance of woodworking, rocking horse history, finishing tips and general banter was spot on. Now I just need to get on and finish my horse! ;-)

Jullie Keyser - - #2232

I received this course as a Christmas present and as I had never done anything like this before I was very nervous at the start of the first morning. Tony Dew and the rest of the staff really put everyone at ease right from the moment we arrived. The tuition was excellent with group demonstrations each step of the way and everyone received just the right amount of individual support. This course gave me the confidence to believe that I can carve a large rocking horse. The Rocking Horse Shop is a beautiful place to visit for anyone interested in rocking horses, they have so many on display, old and new. I would recommend this course to anyone whatever their woodworking experience.

David Hundertmark - - #1780

I received this course as an early Christmas gift from my wife. I can quite honestly say this was the best Christmas ever!! I bought Tony's book several years ago, but could never gather the courage to take the project on. It seemed out of my skill level. Tony's step by step approach, guiding hand and one on one encouragement, not only made for an absolutely delightful weekend, but I also feel like I made a new friend in the process. I left completely confident and excited about this new skill. I would recommend this course to anyone, it was a weekend I will remember for the rest of my life.

adrian doyle - - #1755

I started with a very nervous disposition and ended with something I am very proud of. The journey of how you get from one to the other is excellent and all in the calming hands of Tony. I could not fault the course which is a very good balance of being spoon fed and taking that knowledge to think for yourself to overcome problems. Highly recommended.

Roy - - #1290

I enjoyed the head-carving course enormously.
Tony Dew adjusts his teaching to the individual, with just the right amount of intervention or additional advice and, as so many reviewers above have pointed out, one does finish the course with good/excellent result. I was amazed that, after intro's, demonstration of the tools and safety-explanations, we were straight down to work and 6+hours just sped by.
And a word or two about the setting; the workshop, factory and shop are all very interesting, and the tour of Tony's rocking-horse museum (with anecdotes) is as inspiring as it fascinating.
May 2014

Leon Walker - - #896

A cracking course. Tony builds confidence in both your woodcarving skills but also your artistic interpretation - by the end your horse's head may not look exactly like one of his but it will be pretty darn good!

Paul Lattimore - - #474

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Tony Gunson - - #362

A brilliant course Tony soon turned apprehension into confidence with a relaxed teaching style that suited all abilities, putting everyone at ease. The setting for the course and all the staff were brilliant. After a truly enjoyable three days carving the head for a large rocking horse I first made the little rocky chair horse for my grandson and then went on to complete the large rocking horse. The staff were helpful throughout always willing to answer any questions I had.
Tony Gunson Did course 27th October 2012

bob hacking - - #307

For me it was a first working with sharp chisels and wood but within the first hour of the course Tony have given all of us enough confindence to begin to shape our horses heads and by the end of the three days we all came away with heads we could hold up with pride. The whole course was well planned and we never were never made to feel the beginers we were. I now have an almost complete horse getting ready for his saddle, main and tail after countless hours of fun and head scratching. Try it!

Geoff Gymer - - #304

I attended this course in January 2012, as a competent hobby woodworker, but with no woodcarving experience. Miraculously, at the end of three days, I found myself in possession of a very presentable carved head, greatly exceeding my expectations. Tony is an excellent teacher, able to give just the right level of help or advice to a pretty varied bunch of students. Everyone at the Rocking Horse Shop was very pleasant and helpful. Well worth travelling all the way from Kent to Yorkshire for the experience.

Mark Levis - - #294

Highly recommended. I'd never done any woodcarving before and managed to leave with something that looked like a rocking horse head! Very relaxed and friendly atmosphere on the course and I liked the format of Tony demonstrating each stage before letting us loose to have a go ourselves. He provided as much or as little help as requested and at no stage was I ever made to feel like I was going to fail. I am determined to complete the full horse and have in fact now purchased the materials to do so. Go on, give it a go!!!

Ian Wilson - - #263

Had an great time and learned quite a bit in the three days I was there and it was my first course on carving and I will def think of doing something else again soonish lol. Tony and the team made me very welcome and have no hesitations what so ever in recommending this course

Frank Jarvie - - #262

An excellent course! Tony is a very talented wood carver and a very good teacher with a very relaxed stile. I was amazed at how well my "head" turned out, not having carved anything at all before. I would highly recommend this course. All members of the Rocking Horse Shop staff were very friendly and extremely helpful

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