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Makeover a Vintage Toy Horse for the Christmas Tree

It’s very trendy to decorate underneath your Christmas tree and it’s such a good idea especially when the gifts are unwrapped.  Vintage toys are perfect for under the tree and that is where my toy horse tricycle will go once I get the tree up.

Other ideas are old wagons, toy trains, vintage dump truck, sleighs, teddy bears and of course rocking horses.   You can see another example in my Christmas Home Tour for 2016

Vintage toy sleigh under the Christmas Tree

Last summer I found this replica antique horse tricycle at a garage sale.  It’s definitely a replica so I  felt free to paint it for under the Christmas tree.  Its been painted to look like my favorite dapple grey thoroughbred.  The dapple grey thoroughbred is simply breathtaking, and their coats are various shades of grey and white, often getting whiter as they age.

The original colour of this tricycle not so breathtaking, check out the flowers, not sure what they are meant for.  The fun thing about this little tricycle is the wheels, pedals, and steering well all work and its large enough for a very small child to ride.

Vintage toy horse before receiving a makeover.

How to Refinish a Vintage Toy

The first step is to give it a really good wash,  using a  toothbrush, dish soap, and water to get in all the different crevices.  The horse had some blemishes in the paint and some awful floral embellishments that I couldn’t remove.


Light Grey, and White Chalk paint

Dark Grey Milk Paint

Artist paintbrushes, easier if long-handled

Once the horse was dry, I taped off all the hardware from the body of the horse.  Then covered the entire handle, wheels etc using plastic garbage bags.  The bags were wrapped really tightly to keep them out of the way.

Painting the Vintage Toy Horse

This horse has the impression of a saddle so I painted the seat of the saddle in two coats of grey chalk paint.  The strapping and lower portion of the saddle is in white chalk paint.  I let each coat dry for an hour before sanding it with the 2000 grit sandpaper.  I wanted this section as smooth as possible so it stood out a little bit from the remaining portions of the horse.

The mane and tail are painted in two coats of light grey, making sure to get in all the crevices.

The rest of the horse was painted given two coats of chalk paint, I let each coat dry thoroughly but did not sand it.  Being very careful I painted around the eyes and the hoofs leaving them original.

This is the horse after the first coat is done.

Vintage Toy for Under the Christmas tree with on coat of paint only.

The manes first coat was light grey, the remaining parts were painted in two coats of white chalk paint.  I left the eyes, the tongue and the hooves original for now.

I then added wax to certain sections of the white paint before adding grey dapple swirls.  The paint didn’t chip off the way I expected it to.  Then I tried to sand it, it still didn’t chip but went through to the original paint colour so I had to retouch it in the one spot.  I gave up on getting a chipped look.  Boo and Hiss.

Adding Dapple Swirls to a Vintage Toy Horse

Using the dark grey milk paint I added little swirls of grey paint to mimic the dapples on the coat of a grey thoroughbred.  Using a tiny paint brush I place little swirls of milk paint all over the horse concentrating on his hind end.

Painted dapple swirls of grey paint on a Vintage Toy horse

Once dry I carefully sanded the grey swirls and finished it with a very light dry coat of white chalk paint to soften the distinct curls of the painting.

Refinished Vintage Toy for Christmas

Finally, to darken the mane, tail and the tongue, I painted them with dark grey milk paint. in light, strokes to add depth.  The tongue and hooves were given a solid coat of the milk paint.

Like this horse.  Please Pin it!

Vintage toy for under the Christmas tree, a little horse tricycle repainted in dapple grey.

The horse was finished with a light coating of clear wax instead of polyurethane.  I don’t expect this horse will receive any wear and tear.

The ugly white floral embellishments blend into the horse a little bit.  If your wondering I paid $15 for the horse.    I love how she turned out and can’t wait to put her under the Christmas tree.


  1. Oh my!! What a fabulous find and makeover! She looks perfect will be perfect under your tree and somewhere special all year round!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Sam. It didn’t take me long to swoop it up, that’s for sure.

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Deborah. I was so excited when I found it at the garage sale.

  2. What a lovely find and you transformed her so beautifully too. I’m guessing she’ll become a regular feature under the tree now

  3. This turned out really pretty Leanna. I also like to add a train set to the bottom of our tree. But I never thought about painting it. Your horse looks lovely and so classic!

    1. LeannaForsythe says:

      Thank you Debra. I was excited when I found it, especially with all the horse stuff we have.

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