The 10 Best Rocking Horses

Updated May 15, 2018 by Gabrielle Taylor

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We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. There's a reason why rocking horses have been a staple in children's nurseries for hundreds of years -- kids absolutely love them. Today's models still have that timeless charm, but also come with additional features, like lights, music and galloping sounds, along with safe and nontoxic constructions that will keep mom and dad happy, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best rocking horse on Amazon.

10. Hape Rock and Ride

The Hape Rock and Ride is just like the classic wooden models you had while growing up. It offers hours of imaginative exercise, while developing basic balance and coordination skills. All of the paints and finishes used are nontoxic and kid-friendly.
  • rocks smoothly and easily
  • simple to move from room to room
  • doesn't have any padding
Brand Hape
Model E0100
Weight 7.9 pounds
Rating 3.7 / 5.0

9. Labebe Brown Knight

The Labebe Brown Knight is perfect for smaller children: it's sturdy, but still super soft and cuddly. It comes with a very comfortable padded seat, a faux fur mane and tail, and a saddle and removable bridle that look like real leather.
  • rails are smooth and won't splinter
  • supports up to 150 pounds
  • too small for kids over 3
Brand labebe
Model pending
Weight 10.6 pounds
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

8. Qaba Kids Pony

Mounted on a metal frame with a soft, plush exterior, the Qaba Kids Pony is very lightweight, at only 5 pounds. The padded saddle provides a comfortable seat, and it also features a studded harness, bridle, and reins that kids can hold onto while they ride.
  • easy to assemble
  • vibrant pink color
  • not as sturdy as other models
Brand Qaba
Model 54-0003
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

7. Little Tikes Blue

The Little Tikes Blue is low to the ground and super stable, so even the smallest kids can enjoy it while parents rest easy, knowing they are safe. It has easy-to-grip handles, providing a secure hold, and it can be used for indoor or outdoor play.
  • seat back prevents falling backwards
  • develops balance and coordination
  • made in the united states
Brand Little Tikes
Model 620171
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

6. Best Choice Educational

The Best Choice Educational is perfect for babies just passing the one-year mark. It's small enough to be easy for them to climb onto, plus it has lots of interactive features, like flashing lights and buttons for teaching shapes, numbers, and letters.
  • storage compartment under the seat
  • has a picture story wheel
  • can also be used as a rolling toy
Brand Best Choice Products
Model SKY2202
Weight 10.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Happy Trails Plush

The Happy Trails Plush is just right for your preschool-aged child to enjoy. It has a realistic-looking saddle that promotes imaginary play, and it rocks smoothly on almost any kind of surface. Plus, it is completely handcrafted with a solid wooden core.
  • has handles and reins
  • genuine metal stirrups
  • vinyl saddle is easy to wipe clean
Brand Happy Trails
Model 80-6103
Weight 10.8 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

4. KidKraft Derby

The KidKraft Derby is an all-wood model with a soft mane and tail. It features anti-tip rockers and large hand grips, ensuring the utmost safety for your child as he or she rides. Its solid construction should stand up to years of regular use.
  • heirloom-quality toy
  • has a beautiful finish
  • doesn't have any sharp edges
Brand KidKraft
Model 19601
Weight 13.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. Melissa & Doug Plush

The Melissa & Doug Plush offers the best of both worlds -- it is made from materials that are extra strong, yet still totally huggable for comfortable play. It looks beautiful, and you can see the quality craftsmanship at a glance.
  • detailed and lifelike design
  • makes galloping sounds
  • easy to grasp wooden handles
Brand Melissa & Doug
Model 2137
Weight 17 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

2. Rockin' Rider Candy

The Rockin' Rider Candy has embroidered eyes rather than buttons, so it doesn't present a choking hazard, and the nonslip footboards will keep kids from falling off. It plays fun phrases and sound effects when the ear is squeezed, and can hold up to 40 pounds.
  • plays the i'm a little pony song
  • built-in parental volume controls
  • mouth moves with the sounds
Brand Rockin' Rider
Model 5-20291
Weight 6.4 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

1. Radio Flyer Champion

The Radio Flyer Champion offers three speed levels: walking, trotting, and galloping, just like a real stallion. Each speed makes realistic riding sounds that are sure to delight your little ones, while built-in safety straps keep them securely in place on the saddle.
  • ez climb step to get on and off
  • includes a comb to brush the mane
  • makes chewing sounds when fed
Brand Radio Flyer
Model 383X
Weight 28.1 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

Plastic Vs. Wood: The Great Debate Wages On

A rocking horse is one of the few classic toys that a child will outgrow before he has learned to differentiate one model from another. As such, it is up to a parent (or a grandparent) to choose a rocking horse for any toddler. By and large, this decision boils down to a simple choice between plastic and wood.

Wooden rocking horses are more traditional than their plastic counterparts, appearing more formal in a living room or an upscale apartment setting. Wooden horses also look more authentic and rustic, and they generally match any type of ranch-style decor.

Plastic horses are more colorful, and they look more appropriate amidst the stimulating palette of a child's nursery or a rec-room area. Plastic horses weigh less (i.e., 8-12 lbs.), and they are more durable and compact. The combination of these benefits makes a plastic horse more appropriate to take along on a vacation, or to drop off at any babysitter's house.

The majority of wooden horses are crafted in such a way that parents can tighten, or reattach, several loosened parts. Plastic horses, on the other hand, are extremely difficult to repair. This may not be an issue, however, given a plastic horse will never warp, rot, or splinter apart.

Wooden horses may periodically need to be sanded down, sharpened, or given a new coat of gloss. Once the paint job on a plastic horse begins to fade or peel, the owner may be out of luck. However, a plastic horse does perform better than a wooden horse on any outdoor surface. Wooden horses are predominately resigned to being ridden indoors, away from nature's elements.

Several Safety Tips For Owning a Rocking Horse

For centuries, small children have gravitated toward rocking horses. A rocking horse spurs the imagination, while also encouraging kids to develop coordination and balance. And yet, a rocking horse could present a minor hazard in the event that a parent doesn't take a few precautions.

First and foremost, it helps to place a cushioned mat around the rocking horse. This way, if a child gets thrown, or even trips while disembarking, there won't be any broken bones or brush burns. Make sure that the area surrounding any mat stays clear. Discarded toys can get crushed beneath the weight of a rocking horse, and certain toys can stop a rocking horse abruptly, increasing the chance that your child could get hurt.

Every standard rocking horse comes with a set of handles or reins. Teach your child to keep both hands on these handles at all times, and make it clear to your child never to place a rocking horse's reins around - or behind - his neck.

Children should not be riding on a rocking horse two at a time. More often than not, this leads to either the rear child getting thrown off, or the front child getting knocked forward. It's much safer to train your kids to ride one at a time, and to take turns in the event that they are enjoying the horse along with a sibling or a friend.

When you initially purchase or assemble a rocking horse, be sure to check that all the screws, stirrups, and reins are adjusted tight. It's worth going over the same exercise again in the event that a rocking horse begins to squeak or make any other out-of-the-ordinary noises. If a wooden horse begins to splinter, sand it down, and then add a new layer of gloss. One splinter can - and probably will - lead to more unless the worn wood is provided with a new protective coat.

An Early and Inspirational Account of The Rocking Horse

Charles I, son of King James VI of Scotland, remained unable to walk throughout his early childhood. While the reasons for Charles' immobility have never been uncovered, every historical account agrees that, as a boy, Charles was confined to a wheelchair.

At the age of five, Charles was named Duke of York by his father. There was increased pressure at this point for Charles to mature, and grow into the demands of that title. The royal family enlisted personal caregivers to help Charles with his education and physical development. These caregivers implemented a complete regimen of physical therapy, which included - rather curiously - a wooden rocking horse for Charles to ride on.

This rocking horse, commissioned while Charles was between the ages of 7 and 10, had been handcrafted by using a single piece of elm. The horse featured a rail-thin saddle and an equally small head (with no apparent handles), and it stood upon a pair of extremely wide, half-crescent blades, both of which ran parallel so that Charles could "rock" back and forth.

Charles spent time on the rocking horse every day. And while it remains unclear how much the exercise directly contributed to alleviating Charles' condition, historical data confirms that Charles was completely mobile, even excelling at equestrian activities, by his early adolescence.

At the age of 25, Charles I became King of Great Britain. The two most famous portraits of Charles feature him as a middle-aged sire on horseback. Charles' original rocking horse has been preserved, and it is on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where it is a part of the permanent collection.

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Last updated on May 15, 2018 by Gabrielle Taylor

Gabrielle is a writer and hopeful entrepreneur who hails from a tiny town in Virginia. Earlier in her career, she spent a few years in Southern California before moving back to the east coast (but she misses LA every day). An avid and enthusiastic home cook, she is somewhat of an expert at fending off attempted food thievery by her lazy boxer.

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