These wooden horses, which are mounted on curving pieces of wood that form a cradle, have been around in some form or the other since the Middle Ages. They were an evolution of the hobby horse, a horse's head mounted on a stick which was used to practice jousting – and became a toy in its own right. The earliest rocking horse still in existence is one that belonged to England's King Charles I and dates to around 1610 [source: Legends Rocking Horse]. The design was rather crude. It wasn't until the 18th century that the rocking horse as we know it, carved of wood, horse in mid-gallop with a bow rocker underneath, was created [source: Powerhouse Museum].
Its popularity really peaked in mid-19th century England when the horses were elaborately carved and painted and often had a mane and tail made out of real horsehair. A rocking horse was a staple in many an aristocratic nursery and was considered a good toy for a boy to practice riding until he was old enough to try the real thing [source: Powerhouse Museum]. Rocking horses are still available for sale today.