Hold your hobbyhorses
By Carlos Bilan, Staff Writer
Hold your horses! And by that, Finland means hold the stick of your hobbyhorses before you giddy-up and jump over hurdles.
Hobby-horsing has been making the rounds on social media since April 1, which, of course, made everybody think that it was an elaborate April Fool’s prank. However, what might seem like a bizarre activity is in fact an organised sport that’s been galloping across Scandinavian countries. Having attracted 10,000 athletes in Finland—then subsequently gaining thousands more in neighbouring countries like Sweden and Germany—you can really tell that hobby-horsing is the new equestrian sports craze.
You can think of it as an obstacle course. You have to keep a hobby-horse stick between your legs and make sure that the stick doesn’t end up hitting the hurdle when you jump.
Participants of the sport have been mostly teenage girls aged 12–18, but the sport isn’t exclusive to girls. While hobby-horsing sounds silly, don’t underestimate the nature of it. After watching some videos depicting the sport, it is easy to see that it is a good form of cardio as participants gallop about and jump over hurdles.
You can tell that a good level of flexibility, body strength, control, and jumping ability is required to succeed. Each hurdle in the course gets higher and harder to jump over. Coordination is also important when emulating dressage, since participants have to keep their body steady and move gracefully as if they were a real horse as they perform choreographed movements.
Besides its athletic aspect, hobby-horsing can also be considered a mental sport, since your creativity and handicraft skills are put to the test when designing the hobby-horses. When you look at the hobby-horses that participants use, you can see that they don’t look like an ordinary hobby-horse you could buy from the store. Many are custom-made by the riders.
The peculiar sport is about to be showcased in an upcoming documentary by Academy-Award nominated Selma Vilhunen called Hobbyhorse Revolution. In the film’s trailer, the girls are shown training outdoors in a forest and across rivers. You can tell that they really do take it seriously. Hobbyhorse competitions are organized completely by volunteers and loyal followers. There are judges in competitions and winners are awarded rosettes like in equestrian sporting events. The community is so strong that competitions happen across Finland and a large number of participants attend the events, despite the seemingly niche nature of the sport.
You just can’t help but root for the girls who have created this eccentric sport. The dedication, enthusiasm, and community spirit they have fostered is amazing. It’s like watching Quidditch, but this time the magic is in the playful innocence and creative nature that hobby-horsing brings about.