Wooden sticks with horse heads: With the hobby horse over the course

"Hobby Horsing" is very popular, especially in Finland.

Wooden sticks with horse heads: With the hobby horse over the course

"Hobby Horsing" is very popular, especially in Finland. Elements from equestrian sport are recreated with a hobby horse. Walk, trot, gallop in your own garden inspire but not only there.

Arwen Jäger is only twelve years old and already has three horses. Celine, Rubin Royale and Fraya Fe Feria 20080 are standing in a "stable" in their home garden in Stuttgart. The three don't need much space in the garden house, because they are hobbyhorses with which Arwen pursues her "hobby horsing" pastime. This trend sport from Finland is also finding more and more fans in this country.

Since the 1980s, the hobby horse in Finland has not only been seen as a toy. In "Hobby Horsing" children and teenagers swing on wooden sticks with horse heads made of cloth and wool. The hobbyhorse is often self-made. The followers of this hobby jump over obstacles, ride in circles or gallop across the square. Elements from equestrian sports, such as dressage or show jumping, are recreated.

But anyone who thinks that this is just a gimmick is wrong. The claim of Arwen and other fans of "Hobby Horsing" is to imitate the movements of the horse, similar to those in show jumping or dressage, as realistically as possible with their own bodies, without using real horses. Horse lover Arwen has started a club. "I didn't feel like doing it alone anymore," says the student. With a poster she was looking for like-minded people who also wanted to train. "Many have reported and are still reporting." Since then, the unusual hobby has been pursued together in the garden.

Before her training session, Arwen warms up for a few minutes. It then starts past self-made obstacle poles and red walls, as you know them from gymnastics lessons. Finally, things get serious: the height is reset at the first obstacle. Arwen starts at 65 centimeters and manages that with ease. Then she jumps over 85 centimeters - no problem either. "My record is 95 centimetres. I jump a bit lower, but it's nice," says the student. After the "tournament", Arwen pats her "horse" and bows to the imaginary judge. After all, everything should look as real as possible.

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

The fact that this unusual hobby is becoming more and more popular around the world is also due to director Selma Vilhunen. Her documentary "Hobbyhorse Revolution" won two awards at the Tampere Film Festival in Finland in 2017 and was screened at festivals in Switzerland and the USA. She portrayed a group of girls and made it clear that hobby horse riding is also about friendship and solidarity and standing up for one another.

This is confirmed by Nadine Seybold from Gaildorf in the Schwäbisch Hall district. She offers "Hobby Horsing" training in a private stable once a week for children between the ages of 6 and 16. "This sport is ideal for children to introduce them to horses or to take away the children's fear of horses," says Seybold. In her opinion, "hobby horsing" promotes friendships among children. "It's good for coordination and exhausting. One hour of training and the kids are floored."

Since 2012, the German Equestrian Federation and its initiative "Little Children - Little Ponies" have been pursuing the goal of giving children access to horses and ponies as early as possible. "Hobby Horsing" is intended to bring horses closer to every child. "This means that the horse can be brought into almost every living room, every schoolyard and every kindergarten," says the head of the youth department, Maria Schierhölter-Otte.

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