Aside World Magazine

Winter 2021 Issue 

Side Saddle Dolls and Dioramas

Article by: Marybeth Walker

I have loved dolls for as long as I can remember.  As a child I

played with them, dressed and undressed them, bathed them,

took them for walks around the block in my baby doll carriage

and slept with them. Every time my mother took me shopping I

begged and pleaded for yet one more Barbie doll.  

It has been kiddingly said in the doll collecting world that when

you are a child, you play with dolls. When you become an adult

and continue to play with dolls, you become a "collector".


                                                                                                                        As with so many other hobbies, E-Bay has changed the face of trade and it has put collecting a                                                                                                                              variety of dolls within reach of anyone. My own collection includes many Barbies, both                                                                                                                                          inexpensive and costly such as Porcelain ones. I also own Masterpiece dolls which are life size                                                                                                                              and realistic looking toddler and baby dolls. A very welcome discovery for me were Fashion                                                                                                                                    Royalty dolls made by a company called Integrity.  These dolls are similar in size to twelve inch                                                                                                                            Barbie dolls with the added improvements of bendable shoulder, ankle and wrist joints plus                                                                                                                                  lovely model-like faces.  Many have applied eye lashes and frosted hair.  They are perfect for a                                                                                                                              Barbie lover like myself who always wished for a doll with a more sophisticated and glamorous                                                                                                                            look. 

Additionally I found a sixteen inch doll manufactured by the Robert Tonner Company.  They are also fashion dolls with attractive faces which are larger and more easily handled and dressed. 

One day while shopping for dolls on E-bay, I came across a Barbie doll sized horse.

Great!  Now I could collect Barbies AND horses.

So I set about perusing E-Bay for Mattel made toy horses. I found all sorts of

accessories as well including plastic stables with barn supplies such as little fake

apples and hay, grooming items, rakes and wheel barrows. Then, low and behold,

of all things I came across a Barbie sized side saddle!! Light bulb moment. Why

not create side saddle Barbies?


I began searching for side saddle outfits and when I had purchased all the

equestrian manufactured Barbie and horse sets I could find, I decided to create

my own riding outfits. What fun! I found Victorian style Barbie cloths, including

some that were handmade, which conformed nicely to side saddle habits.

Sometimes I would be able to put riding outfits together pairing jackets and skirts

and vests.








I discovered a wonderful website for doll hats created by a lady named Peggy Feltrope. She makes all kinds of hats for 10, 12 and 16 inch size dolls. I had a blast buying tiny teardrop shaped hats in all different colors and degrees of decoration. 

As my collection grew I decided that as nice as the Barbie horses were with their long manes and Arab type faces, I desired some horses in poses with more movement. Another light bulb moment. Breyer horses! So onto their website I clicked where I found high stepping saddlebreds and disciplined looking dressage horses. To my surprise and delight I even found horses cast in jumping positions supported by clear plastic pedestals! The largest size Breyer horses are more in proportion to twelve inch dolls. 













Then I thought, why not design a diorama where one of my lovely dolls jumps a fence? And since she is literally in no danger of a mishap she can go over in a dashing black plastic top hat.






















Over the years I have purchased a number of Barbie doll side saddles from E-Bay. After some trial and error I found that articulated Barbie/fashion dolls are the best suited as their legs and hip joints are flexible enough to sit securely in the plastic side saddle for displays. 


Side saddle Barbies  are a perfect gift for young daughters, granddaughters or nieces to be introduced to side saddle riding.


As my doll collection has grown over the years I have had to periodically return some to them to E-Bay to find a new home. I try to store my dolls in light and temperature controlled rooms but space in any dwelling is limited. Often I buy undressed dolls and make outfits for them and add jewelry and resell them making a profit with which to shop for more. 

Who knows? Perhaps one day I shall test my creativity even more and set up a side saddle doll website of my own.

Above Photo: Example of dolls in Marybeth's collection

Left Photo: Close up of articulated legs

Close up shot of Fashion Royalty doll

Close up shot of Fashion Royalty doll

Examples of Fashion Royalty Doll Dressed

Examples of Fashion Royalty Doll Dressed

Examples of Peggy Feltrope Doll Hats

Examples of Peggy Feltrope Doll Hats

Close up shot of Barbie and Doll
Close up shot of Barbie and Doll
Barbie with Mattel bought Outfit on Brye
Barbie with Mattel bought Outfit
on Breyer horse
George Washington Doll Close Up
George Washington Doll Close Up
Barbie in George Washington outfit paire
Barbie in George Washington outfit
paired with black lace riding skirt
Show More

Thanks Marybeth!

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