A Little Boy Named Duke Should Have A Pony

Mill Creek Pony

Mill Creek Pony

Believe it or not, this idea came to me on Black Friday. What was even more unbelievable is that Susan and I were actually “out shopping” on that day. Horse-pucky you say! Well we actually took a 3 mile hike down the North Creek Trail to Mill Creek for some donuts. On the walk back we stopped into a toy store and picked up some little craft items for the Dudes. That’s where I saw this wonderful little rocking horse looking for a buckaroo to saddle him up and ride him home. I didn’t even look at the price cause I instantly though, “hey, I need to make one of those for Duke”. A Little Boy Named Duke Should Have A Pony. So I searched the web for plans, drawings, ideas…and came up with a few cleaver designs. (Most of them too cleaver for me).

I started a materials list, made a trip to the store, and got busy laying out the pieces.

It was immediately apparent that every aspect of the design and construction was subject to major changes due to the fact that the pattern I was following must have been made by aliens. (I don’t mean humans from another country…I mean other carbon based life forms from another planet).

The Layout

The Layout

The pieces eventually escaped from the lumber with the help of my $6.00 jig saw from Harbor Freight Tools. The saw is a total POS but it has already built 3 decks and a dozen others custom cuts on our bedroom remodel, so it was my go to tool for the job.

Some Pieces

Some Pieces



There were a few heartaches along the way. At one point a rocker fell off the workbench and broke. Some glue, a few screws, and two 3″ dowels and it will be the strongest part of the horse.

Dowels and Plugs

Dowels and Plugs

All the screw holes were plugged (top and bottom) and 3″ x 3/8″ dowels (center) were drilled, and glued through the neck assembly.

After a few days the thing actually started to look like a rocking horse. I decided it needed a name. If for no other reason than to use as a code name, since the project was still Top Secret! We didn’t want any of the Dudes to hear us say _____________.

Smokey the Pony

Smokey! Yea, Smokey the Pony. That would do at least temporarily. Duke could name him anything he wanted to after Christmas.

At about that point my world turned into one gigantic mess of sandpaper and sawdust! Holy Smokey the Pony what a huge mess! I tried to cover or protect everything I could, including me. Hopeless! I still have sawdust everywhere to this day.

Susan was my go to tool for the staining and finishing. With agreed Smokey should be a Palomino. Susan took over the brush work portion of the project. She applied several coats of honey pine polyurethane and I polished Smokey’s saddle and flanks between coats. Fabulous!

Ears and Eyes

Ears and Eyes

Next up was figuring out the ears and the eyes. Three bucks worth of leather was cut into the ears. The eyes were buttons with googley eyes glued over the holes.

Our pony needed a lush, full, flowing mane…that could be made “Duke Proof”. The initial plans had me cutting out a plug in the head, drilling holes in the neck, and then somehow threading the rope mane through the holes and re-fitting the plug. Yea, it was beyond the laws of physics and gravity! No way that would work. After a quick repair job that idea was abandoned and I came up with notion of using wire staples to attach the mane.

The Mane is Attached

The Mane is Attached

The mane was made up from 1 foot x 5/8 inch pieces of braided nylon rope. Once they were attached to the Smokey’s neck I un-braided the strands and fluffed up the individual strands to make a beautiful fluffy mane and tail.

Smokey's Mane

Smokey's Mane

Well that was about it for the construction. It was time for Smokey to trot out to the back pasture and hide until Christmas time. The only concern I have now is maybe I should have made I should have made 4 (or even 5) ponies… When the bigger dudes spot this critter under the Christmas tree I foresee some horse rustling, a saloon brawl, maybe a shootout, and a lynching on the horizon. I guess we’ll find out just how tough Duke really is 🙂

At this point anyone that knows me would know that the wait till Christmas was killing me. I was so excited to see that little buckaroo slap leather and gallop off into the sunset I could barely stand it. I did manage to fill some of the time constructively:

Smokey Watches the Mantracker Marathon

Smokey Watches the Mantracker Marathon

Me and Smokey watched the Mantracker marathon on TV. After all, Smokey (the pony) needed to learn how to be a horse when he grew up.

In the mean time (16 Dec.) Smokey got himself a name plate.

Installing the name plate

Installing the name plate

Smokey's Brass Plate

Now all that was left was to wait for Christmas.

Oh, and me and Smokey still needed to watch The Man From Snowy River.

So finally the big day arrived. I could try to describe how wonderful it was to see Duke sitting on Smokey…but the words just won’t come out as I choke back a tear. Just have a look. One picture is truly worth a 1,000 words.

Duke and Smokey

Duke and Smokey

Merry Christmas. Kat


About Jeff Katzer

Welcome friends. I'm a cyclist, hiker, motorbike rider, kayaker, photographer, videographer, ukulele player, snowshoer, XC skier, and BEST of all - a grandpa. Somewhere in that list above you'll find the theme of the Adventure Journal.
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9 Responses to A Little Boy Named Duke Should Have A Pony

  1. Ryan Allen says:

    Great job, Kat!

  2. Doug Rickard says:

    That is awesome. You did good. See you in a month or so.
    Merry Christmas to you and all of your family.

  3. Chris Crane says:

    And the greatest is LOVE!

  4. ray says:

    Love this story! and the final pic is priceless!

  5. Cabo says:

    my favorite part is the screws/repair job with glue and plugs! Like the Japanese with their furniture building, to present a piece, they would intentionally mark/deface an otherwise perfect pieceurniture.

    DAKAR rally in 4 days!

  6. Kevin says:

    JK, love this one all the way through. start to finish. the photo with Duke on it is priceless! -KK

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