The traditional answer is no. Rider dolls have never been required, at least not on this side of the Atlantic. A poorly positioned doll will hurt your entry more than it will help. It's a lot safer - and often smarter - to leave them off.
All of this is true if you're using a big headed Breyer doll with factory boots, but come on... It's 2018. It's been more than five years since Yvonne made her debut, and the hobby is filled with excellent scale seamstresses. Good looking, good riding dolls are not a rarity. They are expensive and fiddly and oftentimes frustrating, but if you really want to be competitive at the national level, dolls are your friends.
|performance entries with and without dolls at BreyerFest Live 2018|
However, at the national level, most showers aren't content with zeros. There are going to be a lot of well dressed dolls that are getting ones and twos. There might even be a few perfectly posed riders that merit the rare plus three.
To not even try is leaving points on the table. Literally.
And that's best case scenario. There are some entries that truly require a doll to make sense. If the rider is holding anything besides reins in her hands, the judge really needs to see those hands. Sticky waxing an egg and spoon to the saddle horn isn't convincing and is going to result in a negative score.
So, back to that question: Are dolls an essential part of a performance entry? My 2018 answer would be this: Dolls are not required, but a good entry with a good doll is always going to have the edge over a good entry without a doll. If you truly want to succeed at the highest levels of performance showing, you need to embrace your inner Barbie lover.
|Lu Heater's cutting doll gets a plus three|
|riderless Egg and Spoon|
photo and entry by Erin Corbett
taken that time she accidentally left all the dolls at home