We got a little snow in Arkansas today, so I finally had an opportunity to get a bit more done. He does look better with a tail, just like a few of you suggested! I was able to use an 1/8” dowel for joining it to the body and I feel better about it being more solid. Rather than just butting it together with the dowel as a tenon of sorts, I outlined the base of the tail on the rump and then carved a hole for it to fit into. A little carving and sanding after the glue dried made this joint look very nice and smooth.
I turned the tail slightly to the side to give it more the appearance of a bucking horse, trying to unseat the unfortunate fool on his back. I’ll seal it and put a couple of coats of gesso on it in a few days. Just as I enjoy different styles and forms of wood carving, I also like to use different styles of painting. I do a lot of carvings by dipping them in water and then using acrylic paints directly on the damp wood, for a more washed out effect that lets the wood grain show through. On other things, I use gesso as an undercoat to make the colors brighter and truer, by having the white as the base, rather than the color of the wood. It also can help joint lines completely disappear. Some bird carvers use a similar process.
I have did a few sketches and I did a little test run with the design of the mechanisms that will move the horse and rider. I am thinking about leaving them exposed since kids of all ages seem to be fascinated but how they move. I am planning on using a couple of wooden gears in an appropriate ratio to give several turns of the crankshaft to one rotation of the handle. The gears were from Matthias Wandel’s template generator. The smaller gear will be the driving gear for the crankshaft, but I will make the crankshaft wheels a little bigger than shown to get a wider range of motion from the shaft. The shaft will go through a base and will probably be guled directly to the belly of the horse. I may use some other idea though, that will make it more servicable, in case probelms arise or something wears out.
-- Mike P., Arkansas, http://mpounders1.blogspot.com