Rocking horses and carousel horses have always been a part of the Christmas tradition for me. Perhaps it’s because my baby ornament was a rocking horse or that I cherished this green, wooden carousel horse and made a point of being the one to place it on our tree every year, but the idea of horses and Christmas are forever linked in my mind. It’s no wonder then that the rocking horse presented in the Magic Kingdom’s various Christmas parades have always captured my attention.
In the early years these rocking horses were part of the Toyland section of the parade and were ridden by the classic Disney toy soldiers. The above photo from 1994 shows them in all of their glory. The rocking horses are classic white chargers, but the manes and ornamentation perfectly compliment their toy soldier riders. As much as I love the toy soldiers from Babes in Toyland, the image of the soldiers with the rocking horses just sings to my heart.
In the current iteration of Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, the toy soldiers have been replaced. In fact, the rocking horses have been moved from within the Toyland section proper and are now in the transition group of characters between the large Prince and Princess float and the beginning of the Toyland section. Rather than toy soldiers, the horses now carry cowboy elves. While the elves are able to give a more lively performance, there is something to be said for the classic, if static, nature of the toy soldiers.
No matter who their riders are, the rocking horses are tied to some of the most traditional of Christmas iconography. While I may prefer the parade if they were accompanied by the toy soldiers, but it does my heart a world of good just knowing that they are still present during the parade.