While you're watching a carousel from the sidelines, it's easy to miss the fact
that all carousel horses are not created equal. In fact, not only is there
a difference between horses, but also between sides of the same horse!
Our carousel rotates counter-clockwise. So all of the carousel animals are
positioned with their right sides facing outward. This side (which is most
visible to the public) is known as the romance side. The jewels,
the most ornate carvings and the nicest artistry appear only on this side.
The left side of the horse is known as the money side. When the
customers are getting on this side of the horse, they have already paid their money.
(Mounting a horse from the left side is standard throughout the world. Horses
are trained for this, and may buck off a would-be rider attempting to mount
from the other side.)
The figures in the outside ring are not only the most intricate, they're also the largest. The inside ring figures are the smallest.
The difference in detail between the sides was probably done more for cost savings
than for any other reason. The decreasing size of the horses in the inner rings
provided a cost savings too, though it was somewhat of a necessity as the diameter
of the inner rings is smaller than that of the outer ring.