What's a "Hobby Horse"?

hobby horse

What's a "Hobby Horse"?

For those who never had the space, the money, or perhaps the guts to take up horse riding, there’s now a fun and quirky alternative that’s lower on spatial, income, and adrenaline demands. It’s called “hobby horsing” and it started in the Nordics. Today, the phenomenon has become a trend in a whole different part of the world and regular arenas are being constructed for the now accepted sport.

Traced by:
Marie Nygaard Sørlien

The Air Guitar World Championships takes place in Oulu, the World Cell Phone Throwing Championships is placed in Savonlinna, and the Wife Carrying World Championships is hosted in Sonkajärvi. What these sports have in common isn’t just the fact that they’re rather unusual. The cities mentioned, as the names hint, are all Finnish. And the wacky sports all originate from the Nordic country. Yes, Finland is the uncrowned King of quirky hobbies and sports. But that doesn’t stop them from coming up with new ones. They’re latest addition to the list of weirdly fun sports: hobby horsing.

It’s like regular horse riding, if you don’t count the fact that the sport doesn’t including a living, breathing horse. The horse has been replaced by a toy horse head on a stick, which you might recall from your childhood. Other than that, hobby horsing does everything it can to imitate regular horse riding. There are real equestrian events such as dressage and show jumping. And, despite what you might expect, it’s not just a niche sport. Local grocery stores stock hobby-horses in Finland! Estimates say there are 10.000 hobby horse enthusiasts in the Nordic country. And it’s ridden all the way to the opposite side of the world; Australia.

How can a sport, that some might think absurd, grow so popular? One reason is the fact that (real) horses are pricy. It’s a sport for the few – the rich. Hobby horsing allows enthusiasts to act out their fantasies of owning, riding, and competing with their own horse, minus the high expenses. And minus cleaning up piles of dung! Another reason behind its popularity is the community. Hobby-horsers are known to be very supportive of each other, even in tournaments. Everyone’s accepted the way they are. And then there’s the final and most important reason: it’s just good fun.

The hobby horse revolution shows no sign of slowing down. Don’t be surprised if you come across hobby-horsers at a park near you in the near future. If it happens, now you know what they’re doing – and most importantly why.

A little more info

  • Though not strictly limited to preteen and adolescent girls, the movement is dominated by that demographic.
  • The hobbyhorse arena in Kaivopuisto Park, the biggest ever built in Finland, was just one part of the larger CityHorse event which attracted more than 40,000 people over the weekend of May 20 and 21. The main arena, constructed from scratch, required 1,200 tons of sand to be laid and protect the grass, while 100 horses -- some from Iceland -- were brought in for the event.
  • In tournaments, some fences are as high as 1.2 meters.
  • Hobbyhorse Revolution documentary
  • Finland in general have many weird hobbies/sports.