Since the Barbie movie is on track to become the highest grossing domestic film of the year, we thought it was only fitting to look at 10 more of Barbie’s famous equine pals.
By Jess Bowers
Sorry, Ken—horses love Barbie, not the patriarchy!
Over the decades, the iconic doll has owned more than 50 horses, ranging from realistic backyard mounts to fantastic flying chargers. Always labeled “Barbie doll’s horse,” not a single horse in the herd belonged to Ken. Of course, Barbie’s nice enough to let him borrow one whenever he isn’t replacing her fallen jump rails, or — let’s be honest — adoringly watching her ride.
Join us for another trot down the pink aisle as we check out 10 more iconic Barbie equines who prove Ken’s whole horses = masculinity theory so wrong. And be sure to check out our first list if we’ve missed any favorites here!
1. Prancer, 1983
Prancer, “Barbie doll’s beautiful Arabian horse” is the only Barbie horse ever equipped with a sidesaddle. Hot pink and emblazoned with hearts, this romantic tack allows Barbie to canter away in her ball gown when — not if! — the occasion should arise. On the box, Barbie herself seems smitten with her dishy gray Arab, which is good, because this wobbly sculpt, now known to collectors as the “Hesitant Arab” mold, is about to get really popular at Mattel HQ.
2. Sun Runner, 1989
A dappled palomino, Sun Runner went with “Western Fun Barbie,” whose love of hot pink, turquoise, and southwestern motifs made them both look like Taco Bell booth upholstery. A “beautiful horse to decorate and dress up!” Sun Runner has lots of hair flair, but no canteen or bedroll. This is concerning given the purple desert in which she and Barbie are so obviously lost. Sun Runner looks fearful, her eyes wide, her ears pricked at the endless expanse of sand ahead. But Barbie just keeps on smiling. Nothing can spoil her Western fun.
3. Snowdance, 1991
Only Barbie would go skiing and think, “Gee, I wish my horse was here to model glamorous matching fashions with me.” Snowdance and Barbie both sport high-vis orange and pink with pops of neon green, and the tack is fleece-lined to keep cozy during skijoring. Oddly, Snowdance’s hollow body contains a bell that “rings when she is moved!” This safety feature should alert nearby skiers to scatter as Snowdance bolts onto the bunny slope, dragging Barbie in her snowflake-studded wake.
4. Lucky, 1991
The Paint horse Lucky featured a saddle pad that doubled as a groovy skirt — a surefire path to chafing and horsehair in inconvenient places. In a clumsy gesture at the presence of Paint horses in Native American culture, Lucky’s ensemble features a feather motif and leather-esque fringes. That purple saddle would make Prince green with envy, though. Meanwhile, Barbie is dressed for either a Debbie Gibson lookalike contest or an ice cream social. Why not both?
5. Western Star, 1993
“Western Stampin’ Barbie” combined kids’ love of rubber stamps with the hot new trend of country line dancing. She arrived trail-ready in a silver miniskirt and teal boots adorned with spurs you could roll to “stamp trails of fun,” which were just endless lines of the letter “B,” because that’s Barbie’s graffiti tag. Her stampin’ sidekick was Western Star, a palomino with a crimped mane and pads on its hooves that stamped inky wet hoof prints and stars all over construction paper, encyclopedias, and your parents’ kitchen floor.
6. Champion, 1994
Cross-training in an unidentified English discipline on her presumptuously named black Arabian, Champion, this Barbie can “bend and move,” which gives her better EQ than any other. It’s also nice to see Barbie modeling helmet safety after making so many questionable equestrian headwear choices over the years. But that stirrup (?) around her leg is a recipe for disaster, which cancels out the other champion choices she’s made here.
7. High Stepper, 1994
High Stepper is an objectively awful thing to call a horse, so let’s assume it’s a registered name. Barbie’s back on her palomino kick and, judging by her wardrobe, came straight from step aerobics to catch a twilight desert ride on H.S., who “really walks!” This is the bare minimum one should expect from any horse. But H.S. “only walks on smooth, clean, flat surfaces,” and “will not walk on carpet,” which really limits the playtime possibilities here. She was the Mousetrap of Barbie horses — set-up not worth the effort.
8. Flying Hero Horse, 1995
Flying Hero Barbie was a late response to Jem and the Holograms and She-Ra. Since magical girls ride magical horses, enter Flying Hero Horse, a wingless pink creature whose “shimmering mane and tail sparkle when you make the horse ‘fly’!” On the box, a little girl demonstrates how to “make horse fly,” her smile tight as she pinches Flying Hero Horse’s hindleg as delicately as possible, pretending as hard as she can that this wingless horse can levitate. She’s obviously not buying the focus group leader’s excuse that Flying Hero Horse emits pixie dust. To this day, lore surrounding Flying Hero Horse remains scarce.
9. Sweet Magnolia, 1996
Part of a Wal-Mart exclusive line, this horse/carriage combo is one of Barbie’s rare forays into driving. Here, we get a glimpse of Barbie and Ken’s barn dynamic, with Barbie at the reins while Ken offers a beauty pageant wave at someone in the middle distance. Note that in the inset, which shows off the carriage’s convertible canopy, Ken is no longer waving. Barbie is turned away, obscuring her facial expression. Sweet Magnolia herself pauses, hesitant, just beyond the plantation gates.
10. Rainbow & Sprinkles, 1999
Wounded by criticism of Flying Hero Horse, Mattel reentered the magical horse arena in 1999 with Rainbow and Sprinkles. Rainbow was a pearlescent white mare with iridescent pink fabric wings that could be locked into various positions. Emerging from her chest, not her back, Rainbow’s wings were positioned to allow a Barbie to ride while kids flap them. For good measure, she was accompanied by her “fairy friend” Sprinkles, a teeny tiny pegasus figurine. Sprinkles fit inside a secret pocket on Rainbow’s wing, obviously designed to hide her from your parents, who tried to confiscate her as soon as they realized she was the toy “scattering magical glitter” all over the carpet.
Jess Bowers lives in St. Louis, Missouri, where she rides Haflingers. Her debut book, Horse Show, is coming out from Santa Fe Writers Project in Spring 2024. Find her at www.jessbowers.org or on Twitter/X @prettyminotaur.