While I was in Nevada I got to see this old rocking horse at my sister's place.
This one was built for my nephew, who now himself is a grown adult. My sister keeps it as a memento of his childhood, and as a keepsake of something my dad made.
I can't say for sure, but I think this project was the one that sparked my interest in woodworking. I remember helping my dad build a few of these when I was a young teenager.
Dad's method was to use the parts of a disassembled one as a pattern. He would cut it out of 1x6s or 1x8s with a jig saw, and use lots of sandpaper and Elmer's wood glue.
In fact, I think he built another group of these recently, one for his great-grandson.
I think it probably was painted with exterior house paint, and the details were painted on by my mom.
Looking at it now, with a bit more knowledge of how wood works in a project like this, I am impressed with the simplicity of the design. Likely the horse is attached to the rockers with screws, and the rockers themselves were just traced onto a board and cut out. I found a repair on one of the rockers - the rocker had split and cracked along the grain, and someone had glued it back in place and reinforced it with dowels. A nice repair.
Maybe someday I will build my own version of this rocking horse. It looks like a fun project. If anyone else would like to build it for their own family's use, I would love to see a picture.