Local child’s old baby crib transforms into toy horse stable

-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Kayla said she was excited to receive the stable because she previously had used a cardboard fence instead.

Kayla Potter of Marshalltown not only received the toy she wanted most for Christmas, but her family got to retain an heirloom at the same time.

Like many children her age, Kayla, 10, enjoys playing with American Girl dolls and accessories. When her grandpa Gene Potter, who resides in Illinois, learned her doll’s toy horse didn’t have a stable in which to be kept, he set to work creating one for her using wood from the child’s old baby crib.

“All three of our children used the crib, and by the end it was broken and we had used some parts to make a bed frame, but then we gave the rest of it to my dad to burn on his property,” Kayla’s dad Andrew Potter said.

But Gene had a different idea in mind.

“We brought it home and were supposed to burn it, but I saw the possibilities in it and decided to do something different. She was wanting to get a stable, and I thought I could make one better (than what is offered in) catalogs,” Gene said.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO Kayla Potter, 10, of Marshalltown, received a stable for her toy horse for Christmas, made by her grandfather Gene Potter, who built it using wood from the child’s old baby crib.

Taking the pieces to his basement workshop, Gene invested around 20 hours transforming the wood into a stable.

“It was a good idea because the wood was already stained and ready to be used,” Andrew said.

Mary Potter and Andrew knew Gene had committed to making their daughter a horse stable for Christmas, but they didn’t know where the wood had come from until the big Christmas reveal in Illinois.

“I didn’t have to buy anything except one piece of paneling used for the backside. It all came out of the crib,” Gene said. “And I carved the horse’s name on it — Amazing Blaze.”

Mary, who is thrilled with the outcome, said she was impressed that Gene was able to repurpose the base of the crib’s mattress into the floor and roofing of the stable.

“Gene even added a little American flag to it, since he’s a Vietnam veteran,” Mary said.

Now Kayla has a place to keep her toy horse, its saddle, food and other accessories.

“It was what I wanted for Christmas. Before I had a cardboard fence for it,” she said.

It was a definite upgrade for his daughter, Andrew said with a laugh.

“It shows how much love he has for his granddaughter. It made a special Christmas,” Andrew said.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at

641-753-6611 or

sjordan@timesrepublican.com