The Hobby Horse was founded chiefly to publish the aims and ideas of the Century Guild. With the exception of an article by Florence Marshall on a cantata by Henry Holmes, all the articles and poems in the first number were contributed by Mackmurdo, Horne and Image; the latter was also responsible for the textual illustrations and front cover.
The magazine received some hostile reviews on its publication most notably in The Academy on 1 June 1884: "There may reasonably be some difference of opinion as to Mr. Ruskin's recent utterances. But it has always been possible to gather an idea of that he would be about. There is no imaginable method, however, in the madness of some of his later followers. The affectation of these persons seems to be only commensurate with their ignorance and their conceit with their incapacity." Having criticised both the content and the appearance of the magazine, the reviewer concluded that " a long-suffering public could hardly tolerate another instalment of such nonsense." It was probably largely as a result of such opinions that no further issues appeared until 1886.