The other day I stumbled across an interesting new craze from Finland called hobbyhorsing. Most of us were horse crazy kids at one point and we all probably had a stick horse or two that we ran around with, jumping over chairs with equestrian stars in our eyes. But every child I’ve ever met with with a stick pony has dreamed of riding and competing on a real, living, breathing, pony. Until a few days ago, I’d never heard of a child actually wanting to compete on a stick horse.
Ok, as a kid in 4-H, we would sometimes have fun class which might include a stick horse class for kicks and giggles. But it was a fun class. No one took it seriously and, more often than not, it ended in fits of giggles and childish antics. Sometimes they gave out ribbons. Other times they just gave out lollipops. We had fun and that was the end of that.
But we never called it a sport.
We never saw it as anything more than a childhood game.
So, what the hell is Finland thinking?
They actually made a documentary about. Yes, a documentary…about stick horses. Stick. Horses. Broom handles with plush toys on the end. I am proud to say that, for once, America didn’t start this.
The documentary – entitled Hobbyhorse Revolution – was released on March 31st, 2017. It was released in Finnish cinemas, so I have yet to find a full copy of it available in the US. I have, however, see the trailer with English subtitles. It features several stars of the Finnish hobbyhorse circuit, including a young woman named Alisa who apparently helped start the hobbyhorse movement and Aisku, a star “rider” and “trainer.” Both young women go on about how hobbyhorsing is about inspiring and empowering girls yada yada yada.
Hobbyhorsing has also risen in popularity as a topic among vloggers – both equestrian and not — across the world as everyone races to cash in on their own opinion. What is the general consensus among many hardcore equestrians? Hobbyhorsing is a hobby, not a sport. I have to say that I agree.
There seems to be a push among Hobbyhorse fans to deem hobbyhorsing a sport, right alongside real equestrians. No. Just no. That’s like comparing rollerblading and figure skating or air guitar and real musicians, or American football and rugby. Saying that running around with a broomstick in your crotch is equivalent to the time, effort, blood, sweat, and training we as equestrians put into our sport is actually kinda insulting.
The funniest part is that the trailer for the official documentary never refers to Hobbyhorsing as a sport. Alisa, the young woman who seems to have started the movement, refers to it as a “hobby.”
So, if the founder of this “sport” doesn’t even call it a sport, then why should the rest of us?
Fantasy vs. Reality
Another thing the trailer stresses is that they realize the difference between their hobbyhorses and real horses. The girls in the trailer all swear they know their horses aren’t real horses, but at one point you can see one of the girls putting a blanket on her horse. Ok, I know, kids will be kids and it’s ok to have an imagination, but in the second trailer you can actually hear Aisku talking about the hobbyhorse overheating and having a mind of its own like a real horse would. Really? It’s a stick horse!
Both trailers clearly show that participants get bullied so bad they have to form a sort of underground society to hide their hobby from their own friends and classmates. Such a repressive atmosphere is not healthy and this “sport” looks like it was slated to crash and burn from day one. I am genuinely concerned for the mental health of these young women because I know the long term effect childhood bullying can have and it’s not pretty.
Let me know what you think in the comments below!
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Photo by Ignas Kukenys