When Battat's LORI brand for 8" dolls came out with horses for their line, I decided to buy one to see what it was like. Then I decided it was natural to compare it to the pony that Arklu has produced for their Lottie doll. I completely reviewed Lottie's pony here. This will be a short review of the new horse, and some comparison comments. For brevity, I named the Arklu Welsh pony Merlyn, which is the Welsh word for pony. The name Elinor appeals to me for this new horse, so that's what she'll be called.
Elinor is an Andalusian horse. I've read that gray is the most common color for that breed of horse, so it makes sense that she is that color. Andalusian horses are also popular for dressage and jumping, so an English saddle is correct here too. From my reading, Andalusian horses are a prized breed, originating in Spain. It was a favored mount of European royalty and nobility. I just think she's pretty.
Merlyn's box had a little blurb talking about her personality; Arklu gave her the name Seren. It also talked about how Lottie and Seren are friends, and how Lottie takes care of Seren. Considering Battat was so specific with Elinor's breed, there is nothing on the box about the breed, nor about personality or care. I think Battat dropped the ball here.
Now, let's do some comparisons between Merlyn and Elinor. When I reviewed Merlyn, I used a Stacie doll as she was the best size match among the dolls I have. Since Elinor was created for 8" mini dolls, I'm using Felicity here as my human model, since she's the horse lover of the historical AG dolls.
Here's Felicity riding Merlyn, and Elinor. Felicity does not look too out of place on Merlyn, except that the stirrups are too far down. From the outfit I have that was made for Lottie, she seems to have proportionally longer legs than the dolls that I have. Stacie's feet were awkward in the stirrups since she wasn't built to ride a horse. But at least Merlyn comes with stirrups. I also like the color of Merlyn's bridle and saddle, as being more realistic. And the furry saddle pad on Elinor, which is underneath the purple pad, reminds me more of Western style tack, as opposed to English.
While Merlyn's box talked about Lottie feeding her apples and carrots, no accessories besides tack came with her. I think a toy bunch of carrots or an apple would have been cute. Elinor does come with a few accessories: a pail, a brush and a sort of grooming mitt. There is also a horse trailer and stable by LORI sold separately, which come with more accessories for horses. The stable includes a bucket of carrots and a bucket of apples! I don't know why I have this obsession with horse treats. :D
stable or the horse trailer, there is a slide show where a few of the pictures show a doll wearing this mitt. Supposedly then, it will fit on the LORI dolls' hands, but not on Felicity. The way her thumb sticks out makes it impossible to get the mitt onto her hand.
Both these horses have issues. Merlyn's biggest drawback, I think, is the relative sparseness of her mane and tail. Elinor's is the realism of her tack, plus her size, if she is truly supposed to be the horse breed they say she is. The accessories Elinor does come with don't thrill me, and I think Battat could have had some description on Elinor's box. Merlyn has no accessories but at least we get some verbage about her and how Lottie takes care of her. I think the first choice on which horse to get would be what size doll you want to ride her.
Probably the next biggest factor would be availability. While Seren/Merlyn seems to no longer be for sale, there is a new Welsh pony, and a pony set that also comes with a Lottie doll, which I think is a good idea. Still no buckets, brushes or treats. Arklu will ship to the UK (of course), Ireland and continental Europe (EU), and the US. Shipping appears to be free to all of these places if you spend over 50 pounds, dollars or Euros. Lottie does have some cute things, but I also reviewed a Lottie dress in my review of Merlyn, and Lottie's clothes would definitely be a problematic fit for a lot of other dolls, just so you know. There were some stores that sold Lottie dolls in the US, but I don't know how many of them do still. The one specialty toy store in my area that I know sold Lottie products closed over a year ago.
LORI seems to only be available in the US, and only at Target stores, that I'm aware of, so that's not an option for a great many of you. :( On the other hand, if you do live in the US and also want to get the LORI horse trailer and/or stable, the LORI horse would be the one for you. At one point, there was also a LORI palomino horse, but I don't know if that one is still for sale. The LORI website only shows Elinor, and a Camarillo horse, which I might buy if I see her in store. I think her tack is much prettier than Elinor's.
Do any of your dolls like to ride?