I made this cake for my Paw-hen, it could be handy to just know what stages to do when and how the cake looks underneath so it won't be quite as intimidating.
Don't be afraid of carving!
Step 1: Bake Cake and Prepare Fillings
Bake two sheet cakes and six small cakes. I used a basic Victoria sponge but added some ginger powder. NOTE: I studied cake forums and instructions for carving cake and they all said freeze the cake or wrap it and fling to the moon, I didn't. I think wastes the flavour, but each to there own. I baked and cooled in my kitchen with the windows open (and cake covered in net) for about 2 hours. The thinner the cake the quicker it will cool, that's why I used sheet cakes.
If you are making this all in the one day is recommend making the milk chocolate ganache at this point so it's set enough for when you use it. Mine took a good 5 hours to be hard enough. I made the buttercream at the same time and left it at room temperature too.
Step 2: Stack and Slice
You need two stacks each with three round cakes, that's the neck and the face.
I started carving without any filling, just to get the basic shape. Don't be afraid to exaggerate the cuts as it will build back up with the ganache. I then deconstructed and filled with a small amount of buttercream (no jam, this could make it wobbly).
I had a photograph of a horse to work by and kept stacking sheet cake until the height looked right. Your cake might have risen more or less than mine so just go by eye. Sit in the fridge for about an hour or so, the buttercream will harden and make it easier to carve.
Step 3: Get Into It!
After all the stacking and doing most of the cutting I dirty iced to check the shape, it helped when all the layers of cake were out the way. You can still cut after this stage.
I kept it in the fridge and layered ganache, left to set again before doing another layer.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Once eyes are on it really looked like a horse, put on a nose and a mane made from fondant.
I did have to put a thin stick through the face and neck after considering the speed bumps I had to drive over to deliver the cake but these were whipped out when it was presented.
Hope this helps!