Sign up to get your daily dose of Miss Mustard Seed:

the rocking horse – part 2


Here’s what the horse looked like when I received it from Restoration Hardware.  I loved the shape, but the wood and finish didn’t have as much character as I was hoping for.   I wanted it to look more like one of the inspiration antique horses I shared HERE.

missmustardseed-116 (427x640)

Well, that’s not a problem in these parts!  So, yesterday I took some time to apply the first coat of paint – MMSMP Trophy.  You can read about it HERE.


Yesterday, I was a good blogger and took lots of pictures of the process.  Today, I hauled the horse to the basement and started working and didn’t stop for pictures.  It’s sort of a good thing, because I was in my creative bubble, but it’s not a good thing for blogging!  I’ll try to talk you through the process, though, which was basically paint, sand, paint, sand, paint.

Now, I’ll tell you…Milk Paint can be unpredictable, but in most cases it can be controlled and you can get the look you want ultimately.  This piece broke all of the rules.  It was chipping more than I wanted, so I sanded with an orbital sander…down to the bare wood in some places and then I applied a second coat of Trophy with a lot of bonding agent added.  Anywhere I didn’t sand heavily ended up peeling off in sheets.  So, I sanded more in those places and painted on a coat of Grain Sack on the body, a mix of Grain Sack and Trophy on the hoofs, main and tail, and Shutter Gray on the runners and bridle.

Again, there was chipping, so I just decided to stop fighting it.  Obviously, there was something in the finish of this piece that the milk paint just was not going to be good friends with.  With all of the painting I’ve done with milk paint, I’ve only had one or two other pieces fight me this much.  But, sometimes the pieces are fighting for a reason.  They are going to look best chippy and that’s certainly the case with this horse.  So I waved the white flag and worked with what was happening.

So, here it is…the painting, chipping and distressing is finished, but I haven’t yet applied the waxes.









Now, that’s a horse with some character!

Related posts:


  1. Your horse has turned out fantastic! It looks perfect on the dresser, too. I love what you did…chippy and all.
    Debbie :)

  2. Gorgeous with a capital G!!! *swoon* ;D

  3. it is exactly how it is meant to be! Funny how they let you know. Looks great Marian, as usual.

  4. Tammy Sigman says:


  5. Toni ehle says:

    Thank you for not making us wait another day. Beautiful

  6. Andrea says:

    I wasn’t sure about this one, but I LOVE it! I just ordered my first MMS paint and can’t wait for it to arrive. I’m starting small with a small shelf I bought. I knew when I bought it that it would be my first mms paint project. Once I get that project complete….I have a couple larger projects to try out …..I can’t wait! I also ordered the bonding agent and wish I would have ordered some wax too……

    Love the rocking horse!

  7. Suzanne says:

    I absolutely love your rocking horse, especially your “chippy” paint. I think it’s perfect, especially how you have it displayed. I just bought a vintage carousel horse I want to redo. Now, I want a rocking horse…thanks 😉

  8. Looks great never disapointed!

  9. Molly says:

    Oh my goodness …. MUCH BETTER!! RH needs to take some notes from Miss Mustard. It has so much more personality and charm. Good for you!

  10. Debbie says:

    I adore that horse……just love what you did!

  11. brenda says:

    Great project! That horse looks great. I’ve never tried milk paint, but projects like this are convincing me to take a chance. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Laurie says:

    He is perfect! Love, love, love!

  13. Leslie Rae says:

    I love it!!! It’s perfect!!!

  14. Anita Ward says:

    Love the horse……….if you ever decide to sell him I want him!!!!!!

  15. I LOVE the way this came out!! I see your paint is now at Wood Icing in Chesterfield MO – I am stopping in tomorrow to get your paint and trying it for the first time. I am very excited to give this paint a try.

    Linda @ Hello I Live Here – DIY Home Decor Blog – Ballwin MO

  16. It’s looking great, much more character, I love the soft blue of the bridal.


  17. Sandra Haymart says:

    Looks like you have a Pinto Pony! Know it isn’t what you, or I for that matter, had in mind. But I always say, “T’is what it t’is”. Looks as if you meant for it to be chippy so that is good. You can’t change a leopard’s, or in this case a horse’s, spots. Enjoy him as he is, some things we just can’t change in life. Consider this a lesson of how little control we have. Perhaps another reminder in reference to your son’s health. Just do what you can & trust God.

  18. Nancy Genova says:

    I LOVE IT!!!
    This is the look I want for a few pieces in my bedroom. My look that I am going for is
    ‘Shabby chic’.
    Trying to build up the courage to use milk paint— you don’t know how llllong I have been
    going over this look in my head. YOU NAILED IT!

  19. Liz Thomas says:

    I think it’s perfect the way it is. Will more paint come off as you wax it? Will the horse look different after the wax, are you using a clear or darker wax? Could you post another picture after it’s totally done? Thanks.

  20. Love the chippy look!!!! It really looks great!

  21. Meagan G. says:

    Between the results of the milk paint and your excellent photography, the horse turned out indescribably “authentic.” The character your paint techniques gave the piece is not only beautiful to look at (“eye candy,” if you will), but also strikes a chord somewhere deep, where nostalgia and the equine dignity mingle in the heart and soul. Sounds over-the-top, I know, but it is how this piece touched me. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  22. maria says:

    Love! Love! Love!

  23. I just love how it turned out!! The milk paint really is so authentic. And, I just love how you share the good and the bad and teach us just to embrace it. It is decorative painting but it is a life lesson as well:)

  24. Sarah Lahrman says:

    Looks beautiful Marian! You have inspired so many of us to pull out pieces in our home and paint away! I have yet to try milk paint ~ I am in search of something particular for my family room and then….LOOK OUT! Question though, and I feel some “milk paint shame” for asking it…Have you ever tried Kilz primer/sealer prior to painting? I ask this question because I have a very large wood cabinet in my kitchen that was originally painted black. After coming across your blog I instantly knew I wanted it white instead. I first applied several coats of the Kilz primer and then painted it in white chalk paint (gasp, I know – it wasn’t milk paint, sorry!). The finish and coverage I was hoping for came out beautifully and I sanded the corners/edges following painting so it wasn’t a solid piece of white. Wondered your thought about a primer/sealer prior to painting with milk paint. Thanks!

  25. anne bradley says:

    i know everyone says all your work is beautiful..and mostly it is…but the horse.dresser..wall..everything is the same…am i the only one who would love to see color on the horse:::i don’t mean to sound disrespectful but there has to be someone who would love to see this horse red or green or yellow

  26. sharon says:

    Not…..very interesting at all…my VOTE stands with the first one…that horse is “ALIVE” with personality…this one-put to pasture.

  27. Eileen says:

    I think the horse turned out great! BUT…..Thank you Anne B for sharing your thoughts. Isn’t it great that we don’t all like the same thing?!?!? It would be pretty dull without variety in our likes and dislikes. Sometimes I enjoy a lot of color, sometimes not so much. That’s what makes life interesting. Just as the Seasons have different colors…….so do out lives.

  28. Tina Stone says:

    I pulled my old rocking horse out of the attic today and painted him…chippy white with grey runners and bridle. He looks sooo much better and I owe it all to your inspiration! Now, I am waiting to wax him until I see what yours looks like, so please post another picture of your horse after he gets waxed. lol

  29. Oh look you have a paint horse… no pun intended (okay maybe some pun intended!) My husband grew up showing horses and definitely said that this little horsey would qualify as a paint or maybe an appaloosa…. he loved his horses growing up! One way or the other he really LOVES this little horse!! which is high praise indeed because when we met 24 years ago he thought I was a little nutsy due to my love of old flakey painted furniture and accessories! (he has come round in the last few years and now appreciates the lure.) I can hardly wait to see this sweet pony once he’s waxed!

  30. Wow! I just LOVE your work! Such an inspiration to me! I read your emails everyday and can’t wait to see what you are doing next! This horse is just too cool! I am a huge fan and learn so much, the details are amazing! I don’t get how people love to trash talk on here, I know we are entitled to our opinions but this is art and it is your expression, if you want to see something different go paint your own horse! You go girl, do your thing, because I am waiting to see what happens next!

  31. Gail Rose says:

    Oh, I love love it. You are so good at this. I wake up evey morning and can’t wait to open up my email and see what your doing.
    I love it…

  32. The horse is a perfect work of art!

  33. leahbeth says:

    love it!!! have 2 horses that i am now inspired to perk up! one old fashioned on wheels, the other just stands (leans actually). makes me realize how nice they are and how much nicer they could be!! thanks for sharing!

  34. Linda Petersen says:

    He’s beautiful!

  35. patricia says:

    It looks very authentically old and’well loved” Like Fiona at Lilyfield, your sites send so much inspiration

  36. Cynthia says:

    I have to share that I forwarded the horse pics to my daughter and said~ ” :( What do you think? ” Was I shocked to recieve an email from Marian that said something like “I don’t know if you meant to send this to me. I like it but of course I’m biased.” What a sweet girl… I loved the au natural horse and pictured it with a wreath (but everchanging, of course) saddle~ On a personal note to Marian, You might know me, as I fondly call you “LIttle Miss Mustard Seed.” I am a faithful follower and admirer of your talents, as a mom, wife, and woman. Truth be told, I would like the horse any way that you choose to do it~ I love the process of discovery! Thank you for making my ilfe just a little bit brighter! Hugs!

  37. Martha says:

    I’d name him Rockin Robin.

  38. Mary Ann says:

    I remembered this post on your horse. Since then I gave acquired a dresser very similar to the one the horse sits on. It was already stripped when I found it curbside and coming apart, but I saw potential and loaded it into my vehicle. I knew I saw one in blog land somewhere and realized it was yours. Do you have any information on the dresser? Thinking I would ain’t mine too.

  39. Beautiful! Can I ask a non-aesthetic question about the horse? I haven’t seen reviews on it, so I’m just wondering how usable/safe it is for a child to actually rock. It looks like you used it primarily as decor, but do you happen to know if it functions well as well? Thanks much!

  40. Cheri says:

    I love it! I have this same RH rocking horse and like you I am not crazy about the original finish. I remembered this post and searched for it so I could find out how you transformed it. I am trying to get the courage to do this too but I have absolutely zero milk paint experience.

Leave a Comment