Friday, 19 February 2016

Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Horse & Doll | Toyologist Review

Barbie can just about do anything these days and that includes horse-riding! Read on to find out what Lily and I thought of Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Horse & Doll, in Lily's first Toyologist review opportunity.

When we received the delivery I didn't expect such a large box for what I anticipated to be a small toy box. I was quite wrong as I discovered when I moved aside the plastic packaging and found quite a sizeable box and the first thing which grabbed my attention was the size of Barbie's horse!

In typical Barbie product style, the box features bright pink labels, cartoon-styled Barbie riding her horse and a series of infographic photos showcasing just what Barbie is capable of doing.

Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Horse and Doll Packaging
The packaging design and backdrop is really eye-catching.

Barbie and her horse are displayed really effectively within the box itself which has a green paddock themed background complete with meadow flowers, a white picket fence and rolling hills into the distance which blends well with the image printed on the exterior of the toy box. It merges really well and it is very attractive and appealing to it's target market of 3-12 year olds.

For a hack around the countryside, Barbie is of course very well-dressed, complete with a removable signature Barbie-pink hat, matching magenta tight jodphurs and riding gloves, floral tunic and denim gilet. Not forgetting her tan riding boots and a horse brush to keep her equestrian companion's coat in optimum condition.

Her tan coloured horse boasts a pink saddle, halter and reins plus a pink rosette adorns her mane, which is key to how this toy functions.

Barbie Saddle n' Ride fashion
Barbie is very well-dressed for a hack with her horse (at least she has a hard hat!)
The first thing was to release Barbie and her horse from the many, many elastic bands, plastic straps and threads which keeps them upright and in place in the box. Once this was complete, we unravelled the horse's mane from some secure elastic ties. This false hair is a lovely copper colour which kind of compliments the low-lights that this Barbie sports beneath her blonde hair. The blue brush is also secured into her hand so that that was removed too, but whilst it slips onto her hand easily it is just as easy to slide right off again so for the most part we don't actively play with the brush, unless newly-named 'Truffle' requires a thorough tail detangle.

Barbie Saddle 'n Ride elastic ties and brush
Once the assortment of ties are untangled, you can help Barbie brush her horse's mane

The Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Horse and Doll requires 4, yes 4, AAA batteries. Thankfully we had some to hand so we could test out this toy straight away. The battery compartment is in the horse's undercarriage/belly and requires a small cross-head screwdriver to remove a screw to access the battery slot which can be pulled out on its own to fit the batteries then inserted back in. Kind of felt like an equine C-section to me! Once inserted correctly, I pressed the button on top of the horse's head which is its fringe essentially between its ears. The horse sprang into action so I knew the batteries were functioning correctly. I pressed the button to switch it off then proceeded to replace the screw making sure it was secure and safe for Lily to play with.
Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Batteries
Don't forget 4 AAA batteries!
To allow Barbie to trot off into the distance with Truffle, they both need to be on a flat, firm surface. Carpet causes unbalance and falls and small coffee tables won't provide enough space; once activated the horse takes 16 clippity clops until the button needs to be pressed again or re-positioned. The instructions provide images of how Barbie should be positioned and gives an idea of how to manoeuvre her until she is secure.

Firstly, Barbie needs to be sat astride the horse, Barbie's  left hand with a pink cassette needs to be secured into the horse's rosette and you should hear a 'click'.  From there, she needs to be lifted and rotated until she is standing upright parallel to the horse's neck and rosette; her arm should rotate and the rosette should also until a 'click' is heard. Once that has been completed, the button designed as a brow fringe between the horse's ears needs to be pressed. Both Barbie and the horse will spring into action and she will swiftly mount the horse and they will march along the floor.

Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Instructions
The infographic instructions show how Barbie should be positioned correctly in order for her to mount the horse when the brow button is activated.

The positioning and rotating of Barbie until she is securely standing beside the horse has proven difficult for Lily; I don't think the dexterity of a young 4 year old is really capable of positioning it correctly and being aware of the resistance that is felt when being positioned incorrectly or forcefully to achieve the 'click'. For that reason initially I have been in charge of setting up Barbie to walk towards Lily so for the time-being she cannot have free reign (pardon the pun) to play independently with Barbie Saddle 'n Ride yet. 'Yet' being the key word here, as she will be able to learn how to do this all by herself in time. Within the time frame of 2 weeks Lily has became used to how it works and I intervene less. So do not be put off by this and of course it depends on each individual child's capabilities, fine motor skills and dexterity.
Whilst it is marketed to children between the age of 3-12 years, I would be inclined to say that for independent play this toy is best suited for children from the age of 4. In terms of imaginative play, the recommended age bracket is acceptable. Playing with this toy on its own has its own limitations as the child can only do so much; hair-brushing/grooming, removing Barbie's hat and some selected clothing and making the toy ride along the floor. But with the use of building blocks, Duplo, lego, for example, a paddock could be created, along with a stable or a show-jumping field along with role-playing interaction between Barbie and other Barbie toys and dolls. Another limitation for allowing freedom of play with this particular toy is that is does require a firm, flat surface for the horse to ride along without becoming unbalanced. Thick, plush carpets or rugs will catch on the hooves and cause the horse to fall over. Wooden, tiled or laminate flooring creates the ideal surface to utilise this toy effectively, so the overall use of the toy can be limited depending on your own interiors, which can effect its value for money. Retailing at around £49.99 from Toys R Us, it is best to make an informed decision to make sure that such a toy will get the most out of it. And don't forget you will also need to provide 4 AAA batteries which will need replacing as and when, depending on the use of the Barbie Saddle 'n Ride Horse and Doll.

In terms of product improvement, horse sounds such as neighs, whickers, or hoof clopping instead of the mechanical whirring whilst the horse walks could be a beneficial addition to the sensory aspect of play and will assist with imaginative play too. I would recommend this toy for older children than Lily's 4 years, purely based on the value to toy interaction/engagement ratio.

Lily and Barbie Saddle 'n Ride
Lily's verdict: "I like the horsie and the Barbie together, we have lots of fun!"



  1. I've seen this on TV, my daughter is only 2, but I think she'd quite like Barbie, maybe not this one though, as I doubt she'd be able to get her on the horse from what you've said. Still, it looks like a cool toy x

  2. My daughter would really like something like this, might have to but it on her birthday wish list #TotallyToys

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