On Main Street, in the heart of Edmond, stands a store with a beautiful rocking horse in the window. It is the very first rocking horse the store’s owner Jackie Wilson made before her love for horses turned into a hobby and eventually became a business.
Wilson always wanted to have a horse. When she was 12 years old her father bought Chiquita and soon the graceful pinto was Wilson’s best friend. “I remember every spare moment I was out there brushing her, I just thought that was wonderful,” she said. “I used to ride her in the forest preserves, the farmers’ fields and the gravel pits.”
Wilson got the idea of making rocking horses while she was pregnant with her first child. She saw an article in a magazine with instructions on how to make one. “I just immediately thought, oh, I have to do that for this baby.” Wilson drew horses while she was growing up and did some woodworking. “I’ve always had a flare for artistic stuff.” She changed the pattern of the horse a little, added a western saddle that a friend gave her and the first Wilson rocking horse whinnied into the world. “It will always have a special place in my heart. It was my first one. I love the face and I’ve been trying to duplicate it, but haven’t made another face quite like it.” She started making rocking horses for fun and in May, 2011 opened her business, Wilson Rocking Horses.
The horses are built using the same process but each one has its unique characteristics. The faces are all different, because the finishing work is done by hand. “I find myself talking to them when I come in the morning, I pet them. I think each of them has an individual personality. I love them and I really hope they bless the family they go to, because they are special to me.”
Wilson uses conventional lumber that she buys from the store – pine for the bodies and red oak for the legs and the rockers. She glues the pieces together in a pattern for the particular model. Then she shapes the body, chisels the eyes, the mouth and the ears, paints it, puts on the saddle and sometimes adds real horsehair for the tail. The horses are different shapes and sizes. Some are to be ridden and some are simply for decoration. “If somebody has a particular request, I would love to accommodate them.” Wilson can also make a wooden horse from the photo of a real one.
“I like the thought of the rocking horses being heirlooms that somebody would want to pass on.” She believes what makes them special is the feeling of nostalgia that they evoke, “the feel of days gone by when time was a bit slower, when kids weren’t playing computer games all the time, but had rocking horses that their grandfather or dad made out of whatever he had around the barn,” she added.
Currently Wilson Rocking Horses is a one-person business. Wilson has a volunteer who helps her cut the legs and the rockers a few times per month. She hopes her business will grow in the future but wants to make sure the quality and the special touch remain unchanged. “I want the name Wilson Rocking Horses to be associated with well-built, nice, rocking horses that people want to have in their family. I am not looking for fame or fortune. I just want to be a successful business that is well known for good rocking horses.”
And if you decide to stop by her store, Wilson might let your children ride some of the horses on the floor. She said she loves to see the pleasure from riding horses in children’s eyes. It is the same pleasure that she experienced while growing up and feels every time she looks at one of her wooden beauties. For more information you can call 227-6417 or visit www.wilsonrockinghorses.com.