A dozen girls waited in line in a Helsinki arena for the dressage competition, ready to show off their riding skills, their faces masks of concentration.
The judge put them through their paces — walk, trot, canter — and then asked them for a three-step rein-back, that classic test of a dressage horse’s training and obedience. The judge looked on gravely, occasionally taking notes.
If anyone thought it strange that the girls were riding sticks, no one let on. The make-believe world of the hobbyhorse girls extended as far as the eye could see.
A veterinarian lectured girls on hobbyhorse vaccination schedules, saying “check that the eyes are clear and there is no nasal discharge.” The girls discussed hobbyhorse bloodlines and hobbyhorse temperaments, hobbyhorse training routines and hobbyhorse diets. There were rhinestone-studded bridles for sale.
It is impossible to say exactly when the Finnish hobbyhorse craze began, because it spread for years under the radar before adults became aware of it.
within the rapidly expanding community of enthusiasts, the problem of ridicule really doesn’t come up. “I haven’t run into that sort of situation in a long time,” she said. “I live in a bubble that is filled with hobbyhorses.”
Sunday, April 21, 2019
"Finland’s Hobbyhorse Girls, Once a Secret Society, Now Prance in Public"
NYT with lots of photos: