Barbie’s Dream Horses

In honor of Barbie’s (sadly, horseless) silver screen debut, we’re paying tribute to ten of the most coveted equines to ever grace the pink aisle!

By Jess Bowers

Barbie’s first pet was a horse. It makes sense—everyone knows kids are horse-crazy. Everyone also knows that when Barbie takes up a new hobby, she commits. So, it’s no surprise that over the decades the iconic doll has owned a whole herd of horses, sporting a wide range of coat colors, mechanical play features, and whimsical tack.

In honor of Barbie’s (sadly, horseless) silver screen debut, let’s pay tribute to ten of the most coveted equines to ever grace the pink aisle!

1. DANCER, 1971

Dancer, Barbie’s first horse, was a dark bay mare with a removable black Western saddle and bridle, although her mane and tail were molded, uncombable plastic. An action figure, Dancer’s twelve articulation points let kids “make her rear and race on her rocker stand,” which plugged into an oblong hole on the horse’s abdomen, matching the ones on Barbie’s feet. On the box, Barbie sits clamped atop a crow-hopping Dancer while Skipper panics in the middle distance, arms flailing. I know we girls can do anything, but Barbie seems overhorsed.

2. DALLAS and MIDNIGHT, 1980

Dallas, “the golden palomino to love and take care of!” joined Barbie’s stable in 1980, solidifying the iconic doll’s status as a mare person. Unlike Dancer, Dallas had a rooted mane and tail for brushing, braiding, and slathering in tiny handfuls of conditioner or sunscreen. Dallas’s total lack of articulation made her less expensive than Dancer, but more likely to topple over. The “Dallas” sculpt has its right foreleg raised in a Spanish walk, causing the horse to fall if she’s placed anywhere but a flat surface. Still blithely overestimating her horsemanship, Barbie also adopted Midnight, a “beautiful black stallion” who was a color swap of Dallas. You can guess what came next.

3. DIXIE, 1983

Defying the laws of equine genetics, Dallas and Midnight welcomed a palomino foal named Dixie in 1983. With her blonde pouf of a mane and pink gingham stable sheet, Dixie has the distinction of being the first among Barbie’s herd to be known as her “Dream Horse.” This implies her breeding was intentional, her birth longed for, her future neon bright. On Dixie’s box, Barbie is dressed for halter training in a flowing white Gunne Sax concoction, holding Dixie’s matching lead rope in one ineffectual hand while Dallas looms ominously in the middle distance, just out of focus.


By 1987, Dancer, Dallas, Midnight, and even baby Dixie mysteriously disappeared. Still, someone sold Barbie another horse. Blinking Beauty was a white Arabian with an ultra-long mane. Whenever you brushed it, her black eyelashes would blink “just for you!” She had plastic horseshoes that snapped onto her hooves, but her groom kit, trough, and cardboard stable diorama—all pink, naturally—were sold separately. Barbie towers over Blinking Beauty, tall enough to swing a leg over without assistance. It is nice to see her taking helmet safety seriously, even though her red hunt coat clashes horribly with BB’s garish pink saddle.

5. ZIZI, 1989

Because Barbie was moonlighting as an exotic animal veterinarian somewhere in Africa during the late 1980s, it’s unclear if she owned Zizi the Zebra, or was merely rehabbing her for wildlife conservation. Zizi does wear a large pink bow with a Barbie heart charm around her striped neck, hinting at some degree of domestication. Unlike Barbie’s other equines, Zizi the Zebra is plush, not hard plastic, so in a surprising concession to realism, she can’t support Barbie’s weight for a ride.


Barbie returned from safari and acquired Star Stepper, “a gorgeous horse to ride, groom, and care for!” Part of the “All-American Barbie” line, Star Stepper was a dark palomino of indeterminate gender with a penchant for acid-washed denim. Bafflingly, Star Stepper also came with two pairs of Reebok hi-tops for Barbie, and a promise that she’d be “having fun riding the all-American way!” although her saddle was English, not Western, and everyone knows riding in sneakers is asking for disaster.

7. ROSEBUD, 1992

Just a year later, Barbie was horse shopping again. The little girls in the commercial breathlessly declare “Barbie got her dream horse!” as Rosebud’s snow-white Kanekalon mane catches the breeze of a nearby fan. “Decorate for moonlight rides and circuses!” the box urges, as Rosebud prances in a vague hot pink void. More fantasy creature than animal companion, Rosebud came with gauzy roses for her hair, plus a saddle pad that became a miniskirt for Barbie, which remains an overlooked category in equestrian fashion to this day.

8. NIBBLES, 1995

By 1995, Barbie had lost interest in riding, but picnicking with horses was all the rage. Nibbles, a cremello mare, had a magnetized nose that allowed her to “magically” pick up her “fruit basket” and “hay bunch,” then use her articulated neck to fling them across the room at your brother. Ironically, Nibbles was a picky eater. Sometimes she came bundled with “Horse Lovin’ Barbie” whose very existence implies that earlier versions of Barbie were less committed to equine ownership.

9. TAWNY, 2006

Someone at Mattel finally decided it’d be less confusing for kids if Barbie pared her herd down to just one special favorite instead of introducing and abandoning new horses every few years. Instead they’d make endless iterations of “Barbie’s horse,” who they named Tawny, after her tawny coat. Throughout the early 21st century, a legion of Tawnies filled plastic stables around the world—Groom & Glam Tawny, Shower & Show Tawny, Jumping Tawny, and Walking Together Tawny.

10. HORSE, 2023

These days, Barbie’s horse is known only as “Horse,” but it’s still basically Tawny. Horse is usually palomino, like Dallas, and its saddle is brown, but its bridle is pink, suggesting Barbie’s matchy-matchy obsession mysteriously disappeared along with the rest of her herd. In fact, Horse doesn’t belong to any Barbie in particular, or favor one Barbie over another. All equestrian Barbies powerclash in pink painted-on breeches, ruffled denim tops, tall brown riding boots, and pink helmets.

Jess Bowers rides Haflingers in St. Louis, Missouri. Her debut fiction collection, Horse Show, is forthcoming from Santa Fe Writers Project in April 2024.