Hobby Horses is available at the Hänigsen Riding and Driving Club

Haningsen. “You need to bend your leg more, exactly 98 degrees,” says Nadine, 11, pointing to my right knee, which hangs between 70 and 90 degrees. The student from Hänigsen strictly controls my movements as a riding novice and sums up after a sweaty hour on the sandy ground: “The beginning is known.” My riding journey ends abruptly with this sentence.

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A newspaper article from the spring bothers me: a mother describes how she and her daughter discovered horseback riding – also known as horseback riding – during the pandemic. The new leisure fun, which has long been considered a popular sport in countries like Finland, only brings additional points: better fitness, less weight, a sense of humor and lower maintenance costs. The father of the family can also participate by building obstacles for the riders on their horses. For someone who has never sat on a real horse or a hobby horse, the phrases sound a little strange.

Before the start: Nadine (11 years old) shows beginner Antje Bismarck how to properly hold the hobby horse.

A club that wants to expand the hobby of horse riding

Which is why it is such a stroke of luck that the Horse Riding and Driving Club presents Hobby Horses on two weekends as a campaign for children and the young at heart. away from the newly designed riding circuit, says club president Sabrina Brandeis. Like her fellow activists, she knows the new trend from Scandinavia and even aims for a medium-term coaching license. “For us, it’s a good opportunity to provide all kids with an introduction to equestrian sports,” Brands says. Because the association, which has 180 members, 90 of whom are still active, is expanding its youth work. After all, he’ll be celebrating his 100th birthday in two years, and hopefully with many of the young members.

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In the first traffic campaign of the summer, Brandes took 13 girls who rode hobby horses through the course, completed dressage exercises and dealt extensively with animals. “The big advantage is that riders learn the movement sequences as well as the technical terminology this way,” club spokeswoman Nina Andresen adds. Nadine, 11-year-old Alina and 13-year-old Jonah have long absorbed all this. They live equestrianism, so to speak, on real animals, in everyday life – sometimes when shopping – and then more with Sibylle Braun, mascot or Jack, as their hobby horses are called. Almost everyone has several in the stable, that is, in the children’s room.

The perfect riders (from left): Nadine (11) with Jack, Joanna (13) with Sybil Brown and Alina (11) with mascot have been sporting horses as a hobby for years and are now participating in competitions.

The perfect riders (from left): Nadine (11) with Jack, Joanna (13) with Sybil Brown and Alina (11) with mascot have been sporting horses as a hobby for years and are now participating in competitions.

The bull comes last

They made some of the animals themselves, and Brandes also sees a big advantage in this: “Families don’t have to make any investments to make the sport possible.” However, a look on the internet shows me that, as with many hobbies, there is none with this whether there is an upper limit to the cost. I also learn that hobby horse riders can choose between dressage, show-jumping or holding events. “To jump, you need a horse with a shorter stick,” says Alina. It would also be very annoying if the rider could manage the obstacle with his feet and then tear up with a stick.

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“Horsing” – is it a serious sport?

Hobby Horsing comes from Finland and is a new trend – and a sport. That’s right, as our editor Antje Bismarck found out after trying it on herself.

Trio has thought of some dressage exercises and courses to start with, which I complete first with Jack and then with Sibylle Braun. Thanks to the sponsor, the club faces so many hurdles that those interested can try different hikes on the weekends of the championship. The three girls easily run over 60 cm. I approach the tasks more on the zero line and jump over four red and white pillars without touching them. The coaching staff finds it difficult to stand in front of him to explore the situation: “You have to jog over it,” says Alina. The second attempt was accepted, so I dare the first jump.

Jump hard: Time and time again, coach Nadine, 11, sends her student Antje Bismarck to overcome obstacles.

Jump hard: Time and time again, coach Nadine, 11, sends her student Antje Bismarck to overcome obstacles.

Showjumping taming follows

If I had a real horse, the judge would say he ran up against the fence. So I have to blame myself for the criticism – but somehow I felt like I had to sort my feet first. Nadine sends me over and over again until I pass her assessment as both a rider and a horse. To crown the exercise unit, the bull is waiting for me, that is, several obstacles in a row. I fly over it twice with my mascot, at least that’s how I feel, then move on to the next unit.

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Seemingly effortless: Nadine (11 years old) and her friends overcome obstacles at full speed.

Seemingly effortless: Nadine (11 years old) and her friends overcome obstacles at full speed.

With my feet extended, I run—mostly with my knees bent incorrectly—training on the sand court and doing a jog. I have to be careful not to stand on Sibylle Braun’s tail or trip myself. Because coordination is not possible without focus, and horse riders need it along with physical condition. So, as I bravely train on piaffe, pass, jump, spin, short turns and half-passes, and feel the first muscle protests, Nadine and her companions Alina and Jonah look as fresh as they did at the beginning of the lesson.

Stretch your feet: Alina (11, left) and Nadine (11) check with their student Antje Bismarck for correct posture.

Stretch your feet: Alina (11, left) and Nadine (11) check with their student Antje Bismarck for correct posture.

Onlookers relax me: the girls go out with their horses almost every day, mastering all the motion sequences in their sleep – while I sometimes forget to hold the stick and the reins at the same time. All three want to use training: to participate in competitions. “The tournaments have always been a part of it,” says Brands, who wants to deal with it intensely after the weekends. Germany has a large hobby horse network, and the trend is on the rise.

The association organizes tournaments, parties and activities

This year, the Riding and Driving Club in Hänigsen and the surrounding area is organizing the tournament in two parts: Organizers are opening the facility to riders and spectators alike. The showjumping tournament is scheduled for the weekend of August 27-28. The Dressage Championship comes a week later on the weekend of September 3rd and 4th. In both disciplines, exams up to category M* can be expected. Viewers can join the action at the edge of the newly renovated outdoor sandpit as amateur athletes overcome obstacles and learn dressage lessons. Young riders also compete, for example in the lead competition.

Club members also prepare drinks, cakes and hearty meals to take away. A hobby course in horse riding will be created for children and young people, where everyone can convince themselves of the fashionable sport from Finland. Many exhibitors display and sell their products on the site. The horse show is held on weekends in the clubhouse, Hoher Weg 12 in Hänigsen. Submission is free.

A party will also start on Saturday 3rd September, after Championship Day. Under the motto “We want to celebrate – Hänigsen & Friends”, the Horse Riding and Driving Club invites you to celebrate with the youth of rural Hänigsen with music, dance and drinks. Entry from 9 pm. Entry costs 7 euros.

Information: Those who want to try the sport of hobby horses will have the opportunity to do so at the Hänigsen Equestrian and Driving Club on the weekend of August 27 and 28 and September 3 and 4.

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