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Kentucky Derby® DIY #1: Golden Horses and Jockeys

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Kentucky Derby Party Decor - Gold Painted Horses and Jockeys

Last week, I shared the new Kentucky Derby® Garden Party theme that I recently designed for 14 Hands Winery with you, and now it’s time to dig a little deeper into the “how to” details! I wanted to kick off our mini DIY tutorial series with one of my favorite easy & inexpensive Derby party ideas: Golden Horses and Jockeys. Why gold specifically? As a nod to the much-sought-after Kentucky Derby® winner’s trophy, of course! Plus it just makes your decor look really nice. ;)

In a nutshell, you’ll need horse/jockey elements + a nice shade of metallic gold spray paint. The shade and finish of gold is important because it really affects the look of your finished pieces. And I do mean REALLY. I like Design Master’s Brilliant Gold, which has a lovely matte satin finish and isn’t overly yellow or magenta.

As I mentioned earlier, this concept is super easy, but I think the images below will help to convey how very effective these metallic accents can be, as well as give you some good ideas for incorporating them into your own Derby celebrations at home. And, away we go….

spray painting horses gold - hwtm

Horse Head Statues & Bookends

The horse head bookends pictured above were a find I scored at HomeGoods last year. Although originally black, they made their first cameo as blue horses in our Preppy Paddock Party, but covering them in metallic gold this time around gave them whole new, dressier look, which I personally think they wear quite well. You can give a similar makeover to any sort of horse statue or home accent, regardless if its original color, so remember to look past that when shopping!


Decorative Horse & Jockey Emblems

For this project I painted these 2.5″ plastic horse & jockey figures gold, then removed the “stems” with a wire cutter so that I could use them as flat emblems on vases and containers. (The “stems” break off quite easily, so even simple pliers would probably do the trick.) It was just the hint of Derby that the flowers needed!

plastic horses and jockeys painted gold

diy project - gold painted horses and jockeys


Gold Horse Place Setting Accents

These shiny little horses are one of my very favorite tabletop details, and very theme-appropriate! I simply set the printable place cards in front of them to keep things easy, but you can also take the DIY a step further by drilling tiny holes in the top of their backs, then inserting little wire spirals to utilize them as traditional place card holders.

toy horses painted gold used as place cards


Golden Horseshoes

While I do like the rustic look of stamped iron horseshoes, giving them a coat of gold really brightens things up for the occasion! I used these metallic gold horseshoes as table and wine bar accents.

rustic garden party centerpiece with gold horseshoes


Golden Horse and Jockey Figure

This one little decorative accent can carry the theme all on its own! And it actually arrived gold already… but a very yellow-ish gold that kind of highlighted the fact that it was inexpensive and plastic… not exactly the vibe I was after. It’s amazing how much of a difference the right shade & finish of gold can make though – one quick coat of spray paint made this plastic horse/jockey combo look much more substantial and upscale. If only there was a 1-minute makeover that was this effective for everything! ;)

golden horse and jockey party decor and 14 hands wine


I hope these ideas inspire you to deck out some decor at your own Derby celebrations! Stay tuned for more party inspiration coming soon, and click here to see all of these ideas in use at our own Kentucky Derby® Garden Party with 14 Hands. Cheers!


  1. @14handswine April 22, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Create @HWTM_Jenn #DIY Derby-themed place card holders & centerpiece accents for your #KyDerby party https://www.hwtm.com/2014/04/kentucky-derby-diy-golden-horses-jockeys/

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  3. @AllAboutNuptial April 22, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    Kentucky Derby® DIY #1: Golden Horses and Jockeys http://t.co/DmfLUqwiya

  4. […] I hope you’re able to try this project out and have some fun with it! Remember to stay tuned for more Derby Party DIY coming your way soon, and if you missed the first post from earlier this week, you can find it right here. […]

  5. […] links: – Kentucky Derby Garden Party – Free Kentucky Derby Garden Party Printables – Party DIY: Golden Horses and Jockeys – Party DIY: Crepe Paper Roses […]

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  10. […] men’s derby-style hats, place them around the party on tabletops and cake stands. For the crafty, spray paint plastic toy horses from the party store shiny gold and use them as place cards, or name tags for […]

  11. Anna May 5, 2014 at 10:48 am

    FABULOUS! Thanks so much for telling what that paint brand and color are…perfection!

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  13. Christine October 20, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    Beautiful work! Can you tell me the names of the fonts you used? They are so great!

    • jenn s. October 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Thank you, Christine! The serif fonts that I used are FHA Condensed French (the taller one) and Copperplate (the boxier one), and the script words are a combination of the font “Little Cecily” (which was used for the names on the place cards, the word “roses”, etc) and of stock calligraphy vector words (Kentucky, let’s eat, etc) that were purchased on Shutterstock. Hope that helps! :)

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