A stick horse is a child’s toy that consists of a wooden stick with a model of a horse’s head attached at one end. Children typically play with it by straddling it and pretending to ride it. It may be carved, painted or stuffed with fabric. It was also known as a cock horse (as in the nursery rhyme Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross) or a hobby-horse. It is a toy that dates back to the 16th Century.
This toy is sometimes used as a prop in role play, such as in stories about knights or medieval fairies, and by kids who want to act out their favourite childhood adventures. It can be used to teach children about the different parts of a horse and how it moves, as well as nurture their motor skills. It’s also a great way to develop a sense of balance and coordination.
There are many different types of hobby horses available in stores, some of which are made of wood and others are crafted from other materials, such as felt. They are often painted in bright, colourful designs and can be bought individually or as part of a set of toys. They are also available in a variety of sizes and can be personalised with the name of the child who is using it.
Some hobby horses are shaped like an actual horse, while others are more stylised with just a horse’s head. Those shaped like an actual horse are usually heavier and more durable. Some have a saddle and reins, while others are plain. Some have a tail and are designed to be ridden, while others are just for decoration. The latter are normally smaller and can be used to decorate a room or as part of a table centerpiece.
A stick horse can be seen in a number of cartoons, including the classic Looney Tunes cartoon Buckaroo Bugs, where Bugs Bunny is riding a hobby horse while shooting a gun. It is also used as a prop by cowboys in Western movies.
The stick horse is a popular toy in Finland, where it inspired an organized sport called hobbyhorsing. The sport involves young girls practising on stick horses with plush heads attached. Some of the horses have elaborate bridles and flowing manes. The sport has become so popular that it is even a feature on some television shows.
The hobby horse has also been used in other folk rituals and celebrations, such as the May Day festival. In Cornwall, for example, it was referred to as the Penglaz and appeared on May Eve (called Show Night) and 23 June (St John’s Eve). It was a type of mask horse or mast horse, carved from wood or made from a skull, and was accompanied by a group of dancers dressed in costumes of traditional colours. It was sometimes led or ridden by Old Penglaze, who had a blackened face and wore a tall straw hat.