No horsing around with hobby horse

Once a secret subculture, hobby horses have become part of the mainstream in Finland.

The hobby horse pastime is now celebrated as a popular sport, with national championships held every summer.

One such competition was held last month in Helsinki, where teenagers - mostly young girls with hobby horses in tow - performed elaborate dressage routines.

Judges put participants through their paces - walk, trot, canter - and even asked them for a three-step rein back, a classic test of a dressage horse's training and obedience.

While it is hard to say when the craze began, hobby horse enthusiasts had been flying under the radar, gathering online, for many years.

In 2017, a documentary by film-maker Selma Vilhunen, Hobbyhorse Revolution, thrust the hobby into the national limelight.

Since then, the curious pastime has also taken off in Sweden, Russia and the Netherlands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2019, with the headline 'No horsing around with hobby horse'. Print Edition | Subscribe