Horse-headed wooden sticks: with the hobby horse on the track

Wooden sticks with horse heads
With a hobby horse on the track

Hobby Horsing is very popular, especially in Finland. Elements of the equestrian sport are recreated using a hobby horse. Walking, trotting, and jogging in your garden are inspiring but just not there.

Arwen Jäger is only twelve years old and already has three horses. Celine, Robin Royal and Freya at Feria 20080 stand in a “stable” in the garden of their home in Stuttgart. The three of them do not need a lot of space in the garden house, because they are hobby horses with which Erwin “plays” her fun. This fashionable sport from Finland is also finding more and more fans in this country.

Jumping items are placed in the garden and pedaled with hobby horses.

(Photo: dpa)

Since the 1980s, the hobby horse in Finland has not been seen as just a game. In Hobby Horses, children and teenagers swing on wooden sticks with horses’ heads made of cloth and wool. Hobby horses are often self-made. Followers of this hobby jump over obstacles, ride in circles or run across the arena. Elements of equestrian sports, such as dressage or show jumping, are recreated.

But anyone who thinks this is just a gimmick is wrong. Arwen and other “Hobby Horses” fans claim to imitate a horse’s movements, similar to those of showjumping or dressage, as realistically as possible with their bodies, without using real horses. Horse lover Arwen started a club. “I no longer feel like doing this on my own,” the student says. With a poster she was looking for like-minded people who would also like to train. “Many reported and are still reporting.” Since then, this unusual hobby has been pursued together in the garden.

as real as possible


Arwen has inspired others with her hobby.

(Photo: Photo Alliance / dpa)

Before her training session, Arwen warms up for a few minutes. Then he starts across DIY obstacle posts and red walls, as you know them from gymnastics lessons. Finally, things get serious: Elevation resets at the first hurdle. Arwen starts at 65cm and manages this with ease. Then I jumped over 85cm – no problem either. “My record is 95 cm. I jumped a little lower, but nice,” says the student. After the “tournament,” Arwen pats her “horse” and bows before the mock judge. After all, everything should look as real as possible.

Arwen knows a lot about horses, because not only her horses are her horses. She also regularly rides a real horse at a nearby club. What job would you like to pursue next? “I would like to become a horse trainer, with my own farm and horse farm,” says the 12-year-old. Or a stunt rider.

Hobby-Horsing prepares you for real horses

The fact that this unusual hobby is becoming more and more popular around the world is also due to director Selma Velhonen. Her documentary “Hobbyhorse Revolution” won two awards at the Tampere Film Festival in Finland in 2017 and was shown at festivals in Switzerland and the USA. She photographed a group of girls and explained that the hobby of horseback riding is also about friendship, solidarity, and standing up for each other.

This was confirmed by Nadine Siebold of Geldorf in the Schwäbisch Hall. “Hobby Horses” training is offered in a private stable once a week for children aged 6-16 years. “This sport is ideal for children to introduce them to horses or to get rid of children’s fear of horses,” Siebold says. In her opinion, “the hobby of horse riding” enhances friendships between children. “It’s good for coordination and stressful. One hour of training and the kids are on the floor.”

Since 2012, the German Equestrian Federation and its “Little Children – Little Ponies” initiative have been pursuing the goal of giving children access to horses and ponies as soon as possible. Hobby Horses aims to bring horses closer to every child. “This means that the horse can be brought into almost every living room, every school yard and every kindergarten,” says Head of the Youth Department, Maria Schierhölter-Otte.

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