It seems as though in every family there is someone who is obsessed with horses. I don’t think that this is necessarily specific to the 80s or 90s, but it did seem to gain a little bit of mainstream attention.
When I say obsessed, I don’t mean the people who would ask for a pony once and then give up, I mean people like my sister who asked for a pony every year until she was old enough to make a presentation as to why she should have a horse.
This is a real thing that happened… And it actually worked.
She was one of the lucky ones, because we lived on a farm and had an aunt with horses, she was able to temporarily bring her very favorite horse to live with us for a while.
Some people like to say that you grow out of it, but for my sister it never happened. She actually works with horses professionally now, so I guess sometimes it’s good to encourage a child’s passion!
You could really tell the difference between a casual horse lover and someone who was completely and utterly obsessed by the things they had in their bedroom.
These little plastic horses were the beanie babies of the horse world – except they have been around WAY longer.
They first came on the scene in the 1950s, but have continued making them for decades now.
There are many different models, some of famous horses throughout history, some characters from movies and TV, and some are just pretty horses that you want to collect.
They were the top of the line, the fanciest of fancy, the ‘you’ll only get one for your birthday and that’s the only gift you get that year’ kind of fancy.
2. Grand Champions
These were what you got instead of Breyers horses if you wanted to collect in bulk. If Breyers were the BMWs, Grand Champions were the Honda Civics.
They were much more affordable and so you could collect more of them. They had hair that you could brush and braid, and would often come with a saddle and everything they needed.
My sister had dozens of these displayed all around her room. I’m pretty sure they all had a name too, but unfortunately for future collectors, they stopped making them in 2008.
3. Let’s Ride Riding Star
Horse obsessions were great because they found a way to cross over into all kinds of different areas – even video games.
While you might think that horses would be a largely outdoor obsession, they made a bunch of video games to help kids get to feel like they were getting the horse time they so desperately wanted.
Let’s Ride: Riding Star was one of these games, and was arguably the best one. You got to pick a horse, saddle up and go out to the jumping course. If I remember correctly I think you could also do forest runs, but personally I just enjoyed taking care of a horse.
It was good for kids like me, who wanted to have an understanding of their sisters obsession, but were not really into the idea of actually riding a real horse.
4. The Saddle Club
The Saddle Club books were basically The Baby-Sitter’s Club for horse lovers.
It follows a group of 12-13-year-old kids who ride at Pine Hollow Stables, and the series went on for over a decade.
Eventually the books were turned into a TV show, they had their own fan club and they made models of their horses.
There were over 100 Saddle Club books, as well as dozens of their spin off series Pony Tails and Pine Hollow.
5. Thoroughbred Book Series
With almost 100 books published, the Thoroughbred series was a strong competitor for The Saddle Club books.
The difference between these stories and The Saddle Club, was that the characters actually aged.
As the characters grew up they would follow other characters and allow the stories to evolve, which was ideal for the kids who were reading them.
6. Pony Pals
These pony stories seemed like they were geared a little bit younger, but it actually managed to stay around long enough to build up an online fan club.
Which hey, PS: you can totally still go check out online.
The books followed Lulu, Anna, and Pam, as they learn all about the ponies in their lives. The three girls form their own little group called the “Pony Pals” and solve all kinds of problems together.
7. Lisa Frank Horses
Because of the time period we grew up, Lisa Frank was an essential part of our childhood. Now a lot of people bought the dolphin folders, or the puppy binders, but not the horse obsessed.
They needed that beautiful white horse with the rainbow spots and the long rainbow mane and tail.
They would also go for a unicorn or Pegasus if that option was present, because what are they if not a magical horses?
8. ‘Black Beauty‘
Whether it was the book or the movie, Black Beauty was one of those things that transcended generations.
The book may have been published in 1877, but a remake of the movie came out in 1994 so we all became obsessed.
The ‘autobiography’ of a horse who is born on a farm manages to remain relevant no matter what year you watch it in.
It’s a timeless classic and people will probably love this story for all time.
9. ‘The Horse In The Gray Flannel Suit’
A very young Kurt Russell stars as the love interest in this movie about a horse named Aspercel, who was purchased by a businessman as part of a plan to get a promotion AND make his daughter happy.
The movie was made in 1968, but because it was Disney and got released in one of those amazing white puffy VHS cases, it was added to everyone’s Christmas list.
10. My Little Pony
Obviously. These were like the gateway pony to a lifelong obsession.
The colorful characters had movies, shows, plastic toys, clothes, and more to help kids collect everything and anything with their cute little faces on it.
While it’s nice that they still make them, personally I kind of wish that they still looked the same as they used to. Who else agrees that our My Little Pony was the best?
11. Barbie’s horses
Barbie has had a lot of jobs and hobbies over the years, but one that she frequently comes back to is horseback ridding.
She’s had a lot of different horses over the years, and of course the horse obsessed needed to own them all.
There was one called “High Stepper” that could actually walk.
There was one that could pick things up with its mouth.
And just so many other ones who varied in color and style, but the one thing that seemed to continue was that they were often times a little bit unsteady.
Once you put a Barbie on top of them, it was a little bit more of a trick to get the thing to stand on it’s own. You just had to keep one hand on the horse at all times.
If you love horses when you were a kid, I hope this brought back some memories!
The Black Beauty book influenced a lot of people into loving horses, and it actually has a really interesting backstory. It’s actually kind of crazy how little the author actually made off the sale of this book.
As for My Little Ponies, the new series actually borrows from the original quite a bit. While a lot of the characters changed names or colors, they are actually still based on the same original characters.