Hand crafted rocking horses raise funds for cancer charities

Walter Hofner, retired carpenter from Local 1382 in Rochester, Minn., has spent approximately 3,000 hours crafting custom rocking horses. The horses, made from a variety of Rock Elm, Red Elm and Walnut, take 300 hours each to make and are pieced together from one board and then chiseled to perfection. Walter logged the Walnut himself and has made only a few with the Rock Elm, because the wood is so rare.

walter-with-horseThe rocking horses are hollow, with holes in the ears, nostrils and legs to let the wood breathe so the horses do not swell and fall apart. Walter said they are built to last and can be ridden.

He has crafted 12 of these stunning creations, nine for members of his family and three that have been donated to the Eagles telethon, raising about $2,000 each.

Walter spent 1975 to his retirement in 1999 working at Mayo Clinic Hospital‑Methodist Campus.

“Seeing all of the sick children with no hair walking around the unit really sparked my interest in donating the horses to charity,” said Walter. “I was hoping someone would see what I was doing and want to donate even more for cancer research.”

Walter assisting a Folwell Elementary School student with a woodworking project

Walter assisting a Folwell Elementary School student with a woodworking project


He also has personal ties to this cause with a long family history of cancer. With so few master craftsman left, these horses are a remarkable display of artistry and a testament to the depth of the field of carpentry.

The 62nd Annual Eagles Cancer Telethon will be broadcast live from the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester January 14-15, 2017. This telethon is the longest locally run telethon in the U.S. and raises hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to help fund cancer research at Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, Hormel Institute for Cancer Research and University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center.

If you would like to support this cause and bid on Walter’s hand crafted rocking horse, you can visit http://www.eaglescancertelethon.org for more information.