Things That Matter: The Hyde family’s toy horse

Things That Matter: The Hyde family’s toy horse

From the From Tribune files: Things That Matter in La Crosse County history series
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A horse on wheels

It isn't a real pony, but this beautifully crafted century-old toy horse brought years of enjoyment to the Hyde family of La Crosse.

At some point during their childhood, many kids ask for a pony as a birthday or Christmas present.

I asked Santa for one when I was little, and I never did get my pony. Besides the fact that ponies do not fit well under the Christmas tree, there are a lot of logistics and associated costs for adding such a pet to the family. A practical and economical solution is to purchase a toy horse.

This nearly century-old toy belonged to the Hyde family of La Crosse. Sam and Nan Hyde had two sons and two daughters — David, Sam, Nancy and Sally. Pictured are Sally and Nancy playing with their toy on a beautiful day outside.

This is a rather large toy, and the photo does not do it justice.

The horse and cart together are more than 70 inches long, about 20 inches wide, and nearly 30 inches tall.

Quite a ride

Sally and Nancy Hyde of La Crosse had the next best thing to a real pony.

The horse’s body is made of wool stuffed with wood shavings, the mane and tail are made of black yarn, the ears of felt, and the eyes are buttons.

It is wearing leather tack and a wooden handle for a child to hold onto while playing. The horse sits atop a metal carriage with wheels that still turn. The cart is wicker and wood with a gold-painted design on the side. A great deal of time and dedication went into making this horse.

The vast majority of this horse, except the buttons, is made of natural materials instead of plastic. It is very different from the plastic toy horses available today.

While the Hyde children did not get a real pony that year, this toy shows evidence of having been well-loved by their family and received many hours of play. On the back of the horse’s legs, there are worn patches where holes have been mended again and again.

This horse and cart was donated to the La Crosse County Historical Society in 1990 by David Hyde. This toy can be seen in the La Crosse County Historical Society’s online collections.


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