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Uses of Horse Mannequins

Updated on February 6, 2017

Life sized standing models of horses have a wide range of uses, as illustrated by the following vintage photographs. I stumbled upon this topic while collecting antique horse photographs, and found there was something weirdly interesting about fake horses and their uses. More pictures will be added as I acquire them.


One of the main uses of standing models of horses it to give very rudimentary training in rigging packs and riding. As shown by the wooden horses above used in military training. These models are most likely used for basic training on mounting.

The pictures shown right and below are of horse models that could perform some limited movements. On the right is a dummy horse used in a Tokyo department store that sold equestrian equipment (take in 1973). In theory it gave some basic experience of what it might be like to ride a horse, to encourage people to take up the hobby. In practice it was more likely a novelty attraction.

Articulated horse dummies are also used to train teams that rescue horses from emergency situations so that can see what it is like to try to attach a harness to a horse sized dead weight jammed in a muddy hole or other hazard.

WWI horse simulator
WWI horse simulator


Articulated stationary horses are sometimes provided for therapy or just general exercise. There are various different designs that support different ranges of movement and balance requirements.

Electric horse (1927)
Electric horse (1927)


Horse mannequins are also naturally used to display equipment such as tack or blankets. And museums and other displays will use them to display carriages, armor and other equine-related artifacts.

Horse mannequins can also be used just to draw attention at ab attraction, such as Rockin Chair Park, shown below in a postcard dating from the 1950s.


There is a long history of equine art, including sculpture. These include horses alone, and mounted people.

Wooden standing horse used as a photography prop.
Wooden standing horse used as a photography prop.


People of importance where often painted in horseback. This translated into mounted postures in early photography or both adults and children. Including the introduction of photography pros of both wooden horse figures (like the one shown below) and full taxidermy-preserved horses.

See more examples of equine photo-props here.


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    • psycheskinner profile image

      psycheskinner 5 years ago

      Well, I will certainly see if I can find bucking mannequins that are horse shaped....

    • profile image

      Bob Gaffney 5 years ago

      It's hard to see why you left out "drunken amusement." I'll bet that more mannequins are manufactured today for bars than any other purpose. Of course, a majority of these are probably bulls, so maybe they don't count.

    • LetitiaFT profile image

      LetitiaFT 5 years ago from Paris via California

      I remember being sitting on a model of Secretariat at Churchill Downs years ago. I was absolutely thrilled!

    • jacqui2011 profile image

      jacqui2011 5 years ago from Norfolk, UK

      A few years ago when I lived in Scotland, I had a horse and a Shetland Pony. The tack shop where I bought our supplies had a life size mannequin horse as you entered the store. It always drew the crowds of children (including mine) to it. It was used to promote the latest line in rugs or blankets as well as the newest bridles. Interesting hub.