Above, Prince George Rides His Rocking Horse.
My Rocking Horses are In the News Again!
I'm so thankful for the delight these rocking horse creations bring to people and their loved ones. We were amazed and honored when I was asked to build a special rocking horse for Prince George!
The New Yorker
By Robin Wright, May 20, 2016
Presidential Swag and the Gift Horse
...The most famous gift from the Obamas was to the youngest recipient. In 2013, the State Department’s Protocol Gift Unit contacted Jackie Wilson, a self-described Oklahoma cowgirl. She’s been drawing horses since she first picked up a crayon, and riding them since she was twelve—more than half a century ago. “God outdid himself when he created the horse,” she told me recently. Her first horse, a pinto, was named Chiquita. During a pregnancy in 1979, Wilson read a magazine article about rocking horses and decided to make one for her baby. It was the beginning of a one-woman business making handcrafted rocking horses, initially sold by word-of-mouth, and now on the Web. She makes four different styles, including the Chiquita, in a small workshop in the woods behind her home, in Edmond, Oklahoma.
The State Department asked Wilson to make a rocking horse, but wouldn’t reveal the identity of either the giver or the recipient. “The woman said, ‘Don’t tell anyone in your family. Don’t tell your friends. If you do, then we won’t send the gift—we can’t proceed,’ “ Wilson recalled. She worked on the horse for weeks and, although she hadn’t voted for Obama—and still wouldn’t—she donated the materials and labor. The Protocol Office had the leather saddle embossed with the Presidential Seal, and added a miniature mallet crafted from a fallen oak branch on the White House South Lawn. The horse, a four-foot-long dapple gray on gliders, was the Obamas’ gift to Britain’s Prince George at his birth.
The gift remained a secret—the Protocol office never confirmed to Wilson that her rocking horse was for the little prince—until it went on display at Buckingham Palace, in 2014, during an exhibit of royal toys from over the generations. Wilson and five members of her family scrambled to get to London for three days just to see it. “We went through the Palace and, by golly, there was the horse!” she told me. “They wouldn’t let us take pictures, but they can’t take the memory from me.”
Last month, at a dinner given by Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge at Kensington Palace, the Obamas got to see bonny Prince George, now almost three, actually put a Presidential gift to good use. Afterward, the Palace released official photographs. “It grabbed my heart,” Wilson said. “He was really on the horse!” And he got to keep it.
The Oklahoman and Tulsa World
By Diana Baldwin, August 13, 2014.
Prince George gets a wooden rocking horse from Oklahoma
The Oklahoman also ran an article about this gift! Ms. Baldwin describes the circumstances and birthday event. The Tulsa World also ran the article. Thank you to The Oklahoman and Tulsa World!
The Daily Mail
By Dan Miller, July 25, 2024
Happy birthday George, love Uncle Sam: Obamas sent baby prince a hand-made rocking horse and polo mallet carved from ancient White House tree
The Daily Mail also ran an article. It discusses the royal gifts given to Prince George on his birthday. Regarding Jackie's rocking horse gift, and exert from the article reads:
What do you get a king in the making for his birthday? Thankfully the Obamas weren't short of a few good ideas.
The President and his family sent the newborn Prince George a stunning hand-made rocking horse as well a blanket made from the finest alpaca wool to celebrate his birth last year.
Sporting a saddle embossed with the presidential seal, the wooden rocking horse came with a polo mallet with a head made from the branch of an oak tree that once stood on the south lawn of the White House.
Edmond Life & Leisure and NewsOK.com
by Diana Baldwin, Oct. 27, 2011
Mom makes wooden horse hobby a business
Jackie Wilson was pregnant 31 years ago with her daughter when she built her first wooden rocking horse after seeing an example in a magazine. The pinto horse, with a repaired broken ear and rocker, now sits in the front window at 10 S Broadway, the new home of Wilson Rocking Horses.
Wilson, 60, has gone from being a lifelong stay-at-home mom to businesswoman. “My life has totally changed,” Wilson said. “I never wanted to be a businessperson. I like making horses.”
Her horses rock, glide, roll and stand in one place. The animals are different colors. Some have real horse hair tails and manes. Others wear leather saddles. A few of the horses' necks are decorated with pearl garlands or flowers. Many are ready to be used by children.
Wilson offers stick horses that sell for $30. Her full-size rocking horses range from $250 to $1,500.
Wilson said she typically hand-chisels her horses. Since she opened her business May 6, she is learning ways to get the job done faster.
“It was a hobby,” Wilson said. “Now that it is a business, I am getting quicker. It is all a learning curve.
“It is a work of art, not just a toy. I don't want to compromise on the quality.”
Wilson has turned to making a batch of horses instead of one at a time. She can make three big horses and three small horses in a month. A man has volunteered to help her cut out legs.
“If the business grows, I will have to have help,” she said.
Wilson said she is intrigued to see how the business develops. “I am not going to stress over this,” she said. “I don't expect it to fail. It happens as it happens.” Wilson now has a large shop where her woodworking is spread among the sawdust. Wood pieces line the walls. Heads are being glued onto bodies. Legs are drawn on small pieces of wood. Clamps are hanging, waiting for the next job.
There's a room to paint and space to store her finished horses.
“I have drawn horses all my life,” Wilson said. “I think God outdid himself when he made horses.”
by Radina Gigova, Dec 2011
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... visit www.wilsonrockinghorses.com.