trading horses again

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Decorating, Hand Painted Furniture, Holiday, Living Room, Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint55 Comments

Remember my rocking horse?  The one I bought from Restoration Hardware and then painted with MMS Milk Paint to make it look chippy and old?  

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

Well, in typical Marian fashion, I sold it.

I wasn’t planning to, but a client asked if I could custom paint the same horse for her.  I agreed to the job and we tried to schedule a time for her to drop her horse off at the studio.  As we tried to schedule and reschedule, it occurred to me that it would save her a trip if I just gave her my painted horse, since she wanted hers to look exactly the same, and I could take the unpainted one and paint it again.

Are you tracking with me?

So, when I was in Virginia for the Holiday Expo, we met and traded horses.

An interesting thing…  I really don’t mind buying and selling pieces, but I missed my horse and was eager to get this one painted and in its spot.


Just like the original, this one was a total pain to paint!  There is something in the finish or the wood that resists the milk paint worse than anything I’ve seen.  I could’ve used the Bonding Agent to help with the adhesion, but I wanted it to be chippy, like the original.  So, I sanded and painted and sanded and painted again until I liked the amount of chipping I had.

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

I painted this one in Shutter Gray, followed by Farmhouse White (coming soon) on the body and Trophy on the hoofs, tail, bridle, etc.  The Trophy looked a little dark, so I applied Shutter Gray on the final coat.  I finished it with Antiquing Wax to soften the contrast between the dark wood and the light paint and to add some instant patina.

Here’s how the new horse looks…

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

And, as a comparison, here is the original, that is painted in Grain Sack over Shutter Gray.

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

My favorite part about the new horse is the dappling on the hindquarters…

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

I’ve seen this on a few antique painted horses and I always loved it, so I decided to replicate the look.  I just dry-brushed light swirls in Trophy with an artist brush.  I didn’t take it too seriously.  It’s supposed to have a folk art quality about it.

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

Because I painted over chipped paint, the result was this wonderful crusty effect that looks very authentic.  I know some people don’t get the crusty/chippy thing, but it’s all yummy to me.

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

And, as I was decorating for Christmas today, the new horse got a garland of fresh greens.  I just tuck and twist and nestle until it looks the way I want it to.  I use a little twine to tie the first couple of branches together.

milk painted rocking horse | miss mustard seed

If you’re interested, HERE is a tutorial on how I applied the first cost of paint to the original horse and HERE is the post showing the second coat.

And here is the video showing how I applied the Antiquing Wax

You know, I never named my last horse, but I think this one needs a name!  I think he’s a boy.   Any ideas for a sweet dapple gray?


I started decorating for Christmas today and I made a total mess of the house, but had a grand time doing it.  I’m not finished, yet, and it was a dreary day for pictures, but here is a little preview of one project I did…

christmas decor | miss mustard seed

The pots were already filled 3/4 of the way with dirt, so I just stuck a votive on top and surround each one with moss and fresh greens.  This would be better with higher candles, but I was just working with what I had on hand and I’m not planning to light them, anyway.

christmas decor | miss mustard seed

christmas decor | miss mustard seed

christmas decor | miss mustard seed

I am so in love with juniper this year.  The frosty blue berries and gray/green needles go perfectly with my decor!  I think I need to plant a juniper bush at the next house…

trading horses again

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55 Comments on “trading horses again”

  1. Love the new horse and his sweet dapples! How about “Silver” for his name, short for “Silver Dollar”?

    You’ve mentioned “the next house” a few times now … is there something you’re not telling us?! 😀

    1. Ha, no. I mentioned that we plan to move within the next two years, so I’m already dreaming about the next house…

  2. I have a name!
    “The Mare of This Town”!
    Merry Christmas and thanks for the excellent blog posts lately, Marian.
    Your content is more awesome than ever and I’m enjoying myself here.

  3. Love that you put color on the bridle. My pic for the name is Cumulus like clouds! Or maybe Mercury. What was the other rocking horses name, the one with the blue saddle?

  4. I had an appaloosa years ago, and her name was Ruffian because she had a little attitude. My dad actually came up with the name. He remembered a mare race horse that was named Ruffian. I know you said yours looked like a he, but Ruffian would work. 🙂 Awwww, I miss my horse.

  5. Marian- If possible (and I know with you, it is totally possible!), but this one is even better than the first! I love the two colors andte dappled hind quarters. Another beautiful job~ And, the greens and candles are really cool looking. 🙂

  6. He’s lovely! How about Grady or Grayson? My neice had a sweet, gray dapple roping horse named Grady. The dappling on your pony reminds me of our Grady’s.

    Beautiful work, Marian!


  7. Terrific paint job! I agree with Sue – it’s even better than the first. Also…Mr. Dreamy. 😉

  8. I LOVE this horse and have been keeping my eyes out for something similar! Nice you had twice the chance to play with it! I’m so glad you mentioned what you did, because Iam about to use your paint for the first time on a very old, but surprisingly still glossy empire dresser. I want it to be chippy, so I’m very hesitant to add bonding agent. I will play around with a piece of it before I do the whole thing!

    1. Ah! What a great idea. (I was going to suggest “Darcy”. I’m not the only one who thinks Pride and Prejudice I see.)

  9. You are a riot. I’m glad there is a place people like us can congregate and get what you mean about dappling, crustiness, etc.

  10. I think you hit on the right name in your post…Juniper. silver grey back, blue that goes with your house, sounds masculine to me. What do you think.

  11. Paint to me is a perfect name for your horse. He reminds me of that type of horse that lots of Indians rode in many of the old westerns my husband loves to watch. I have tried many times to find this horse on RH’s website and various catalogs. Please tell me how to purchase one for myself. Methane you!

  12. Ha! When you said, “trading horses,” I thought it was you switching furniture around again. But you literally traded (rocking) horses! How about “McCloud” or “Silver Cloud” or “Cloud 9” for your new dappled horse?

  13. He looks like a Toby to me!

    I loved the way your boxwood wreaths hung on your china hutch last year so I decided to replicate it with some fake evergreen wreaths and some nice thick gold sparkly ribbon. It turned out beautifully! And the best part? When I was looking back through my pictures I noticed that both wreaths had a teacup peeking through right behind them. It was completely unintentional but such a great surprise:)

  14. Our first pony, a dappled silver grey Shetland was named “Duke”. So apropos, as he was extremely handsome, and very much the titled gentleman!

  15. It would be great if you put out a color called Juniper Berry. I have a
    Cedar Tree that has the same berries. Is a Juniper a Cedar? I love that color! I also like Cedar Berry.
    this year the berries on the cedars are THICK and beautiful. It must have been a good year for them. Have a blessed Holiday!

  16. My daughter’s trainer had a grey horse. His barn name was Chase, his show name was “Makes Me Smile” I always loved that!

  17. We had an old grey dappled race horse retire to my poppops farm. His name was Pete. He was gentle with all the kids and pulled a wagon once a year in the xmas parade.

  18. In Deep Distress is what I would name him. With his head hanging low and the distressed look being you, perfect!

  19. I like Cindy’s name “Trader Gray.”
    I love it when a piece has the chippy and crusty. Gives it another texture.

    AC Moore has the faux juniper picks. I love them as well and have been buying them up and placing them in my ironstone pitchers.

  20. Marian- As always your eye for detail and patience to continue until you get the results you want have created yet another Rocking Horse 2.0. He looks perfectly aged; I’d call him Sterling.

  21. My husband had a dappled grey horse when we first married……his name was Stormy. I always thought that was the perfect name for him!

  22. Hi, Marian!
    I really like how the bridle, hooves, and rocker really stand out from the color of the horse on the new one. And I was also thinking it looked a bit dappled so I am glad you are calling him that. As for a name, he looks like a Sweet William to me!

    Merry Christmas!

  23. Hi Marian
    Greetings from Brisbane Australia
    He is just beautiful,and I think you have had the name mentioned a few times “Dapple” it suits him.

    Merry Christmas

  24. I really like the Farmhouse white with the other colors. The crackling and chipping makes for a real authentic look.

  25. Mr. Darcy, Sterling, Jackson, Greyson, William, Peter, or some such name; not too “common”, but not too regal, either. He reminds me of an older country gentleman, not too proud to work, but someone to be respected. All this from looking at a piece of wood shaped like a horse!
    Maybe you could plant a juniper at the house you now have?
    Getting caught up on my MMS, was out of town/internet access and now have a lovely pile of reading:-)

  26. I bought this same horse after seeing your first one. Mine is still waiting to be painted. It’s a scary thought. I’m afraid I’ll screw it up! I’ll look at the tutorials again for courage!

  27. I just exclaimed the same thing to my husband this weekend while I clipped from our bushes! I needed some extra sprigs of greenery, so I trimmed some and while I was admiring them I said “I’m just so in love with Juniper this year!” He’s quite used to these sort of outbursts and mostly just tunes me out, but he looked at me and said “Why exactly?”. I then proceeded to describe how I admired it’s blueish coloring which compliments our Blue Spruce tree and the Seeded Eucalyptus I use often, and how it has smaller needles and yet the boughs are still bushy which makes it go much further… He just rolled his eyes and said at least it’s free.

  28. He’s very handsome. How about Old Blue or Bluestocking, given his grey hooves? Or given the season, Dasher or Dash.”

    I wonder if the wood is teak or mahogany, or some other oily wood. Wouldn’t oil in the wood act as a resist?

  29. Your post brought back memories of this little nursery rhyme.

    I Had a Little Pony,
    His Name Was Dapple Grey

    Nursery Rhyme
    I had a little pony,
    His name was Dapple Grey,
    I lent him to a lady,
    To ride a mile away.

    She whipped him, she lashed him,
    She rode him through the mire;
    I would not lend my pony now,
    For all the lady’s hire.

  30. I loved your horse so much that when I saw one at the Restoration Hardware outlet I snapped it right up. I’ve been too chicken to paint it and was hoping for your take on what you would do differently this time so Thank You! This is perfect .
    How about Gideon ? ( giddy- up) ?

  31. SO glad you traded horses and ended up re-doing one for yourself! I’ve always admired your transformation of this rocking horse. I just found a regular sized kids rocking horse that I’m going to transform to look chippy and painted. I just looked at your horse for inspiration. I also really love the dappled hindquarters. I saw one in a decor magazine and always vowed to try to duplicate the look. Haven’t tried your paint yet but I bought a package to try it out. I’ve been using ASCP paint over the years and have tried many others. I totally get the chippy look and love it!

  32. I am in LOVE with this beautiful chippy horse! I think it looks ever better than the original! I tried the 2 links above to see how you painted the first one, but they are no longer good. Is it possible that you could check this for me? Thank you for this wonderful blog! I love to learn and you are such a good teacher!

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