Intro: Tonto Dog Rider Costume
Based off the western movie The Lone Ranger, this tiny sidekick Tonto was made to ride on the back of my dog, making her look like a horse. My version may look a little different than the one from the movie, but is recognizable immediately (and insanely adorable).
Using a doll figurine as the base model, some modifications were made to give the doll a riding stance, then was attached to a dog harness. This easy to make pet costume is a fun way to get your pet into Halloween, and would look adorable on almost any size dog. You might also want an easy Lone Ranger costume to go along with your Tonto.
Step 1: Ken Doll
The most appropriate size doll to ride my small to medium size dog was Barbie's longtime man-friend, Ken. Turns out Ken isn't that big of a seller and was discounted to about $10 new from a toy store.
As seen in the picture above, I could barely contain my excitement.
Step 2: Dismember Ken
We'll be modifying this doll slightly to match Tonto's outfit, and to allow the legs to sit on a saddle over the dog torso. Start by removing all of the doll's clothing, and grin as you pop off the head.
Step 3: Bend Those Knees
This figure didn't come with articulating legs, so I heat-bent them at the knees and hips to take a wider stance.
Using a propane blowtorch set to very low heat, I carefully waved the knee joint over the flame to soften the plastic. Ensuring to keep the doll moving to prevent ignition, when the plastic was softened the leg was bent to the appropriate angle.This process was repeated for both knees, and on both sides of the hips.
Let the plastic cool completely before moving onto the next step.
Step 4: Fit the Pants
The pants were only able to be put onto the doll when the legs were straight, so these pants were cut down the middle to accommodate the new leg position.
Each pant leg section was put onto the leg and hot glue was used to hold them in place at the waist. The new leg positioning created a spot in between the legs that was without fabric. This will be patched up later with some scrap fabric, then mostly covered when we glue the doll into the saddle.
Step 5: Paint Face White
The character in the movie has their face painted white. With the doll heal placed on a pencil a few light coats of matte white paint was applied. New coats were applied until complete uniform paint coverage was achieved.
Step 6: Face Details
Once the paint was dry a fine point indelible marker was used to draw on the face paint details.
Step 7: Hair
For the long black hair I uncoiled black yarn into thin strips. Though this created curly hair, I wasn't to fussed about it because of the small scale.
The yarn strains were glued to the crown of the head using hot glue.
Step 8: Head Wrap
The head wrap was made from a thin scrap of burlap, folded in half lengthwise. This headbad was glued to the head with more hot glue, over the hair.
Step 9: Bird Headpiece
I made a small bird-shaped headpiece from a black foam sheet. Due to the small scale I wasn't too worried about replicating a bird exactly, just getting the basic shape.
I made this bird shape from a few different cuts of foam, then attached the entire thing with more hot glue.
Step 10: Vest
I made a vest from a scrap piece of muslin. I cut it to the length of the doll torso, then frayed the edges and cut a neck hole in one end.
I made details on the vest with a indelible marker.
Step 11: Putting the Doll Together
With most of the details of the costume finished we can reassemble the doll. THe head can just be squished back onto the body.
Step 12: Finishing Touches
I glued a few scraps of fabric and leather near the headband, and around the arms for finishing touches to Tonto's outfit.
Step 13: Saddle
I made the dog saddle from a large square of cork that I got from an office supply store.
I sketched out a rough shape of the saddle and cut it out with scissors.
Step 14: Test Fit / Upset Your Dog
I tested the saddle dimensions against the doll, then against my dog. Since she wasn't accustomed to the doll or saddle yet there was some apprehension. After I let her sniff the pieces and rewarded her with some treats and praise she was a lot more cooperative.
Step 15: Attaching Saddle to Harness
I have a body harness for my dog, it straps around both legs and across her chest with a connecting clip on the back.
Where the stirrups would be on a regular saddle are the attachment points for my saddle. With the doll on the saddle I made two small openings on either side of the doll ankles, then fed thing bendable wire through to make the connection.
To ensure the doll stayed in place I used more hot glue around the seat of the doll to make a solid connection to the saddle.
Step 16: Attach to Dog
Carefully attache the harness/saddle to your canine companion. Your dog might be a little more cooperative with some treats on hand.
Your small furry friend is ready to be your trusty sidekick.
Step 17: Set Off for Adventure!
With the saddle all strapped up you're ready to set off for adventure. The connection between harness and saddle is secure, but may become unstable and tip Tonto over if your dog starts running. Best to keep your dog under control at all times to avoid the figure from partially falling off the saddle and startling your furry friend.
Step 18: You Might Need a Sidekick
Just like how Tonto is the Lone Ranger's sidekick, my dog is my sidekick - even when we're not in costume! Check out the Lone Ranger costume I made which ties my dog's costume with mine.