A horse is a horse, of course, of course, but owning and maintaining a horse can be out of reach for most of us. One answer to this for kids has long been a hobbyhorse, e.g., a stick horse. Many of us had stick horses when we were small. There is a movement afoot for adults to rediscover these horses and the fun of riding them.
Image via SKY
If you thought adults returning to coloring was strange then you won't believe how young adults (mostly women) are going crazy over these hobbyhorses. It all started in Finland a few years ago and has begun to gallop around the world.
Image via Horse Rider
When I was a kid mine was red and the head was stuffed, covered in plastic, and printed with white and black. Running that stick around the neighborhood was a great joy. Since I grew up I have occasionally seen a stick horse at street fairs and renaissance festivals that I would have loved to buy. I would talk myself out of it by pointing out that I had no real use for one. Now I am rethinking that decision.
Image via OZY
The idea of women dashing about on hobbyhorses does seem a bit bizarre, but this whole thing goes far beyond just prancing around the neighborhood or going on a short hack through the woods. These women arrange horsey events where they must engage in jumping and dressage. As of yet I have not heard of them engaging in a fox hunt, but who wants to put their plush toy fox through that? The people involved also make, buy, and sell horses.
Image via CBC
The movement is becoming about empowering women to stay in touch with their dreams and to nurture their inner child. This "sport" also requires a great deal of athletic ability and stamina. That is why these women tend to be on the young side. The women also get to socialize face-to-face at these events, something that is getting rare for many in our electronic world. The only virtual thing about it is the horses themselves. The women usually name their steeds, discover the horse's personality, and create a backstory for it.
The horses have also seem to have changed with the times. Many of them are more realistic looking than they used to. The stick part seems to have been shortened considerably so that a trailing stick won't get in the way and knock the bars off the jumps needlessly, or trip up the "riders." But maybe it just looks that way because these are children's toys being used by adults.
Image via CBC
You may find this hobby funny or strange, and you wouldn't be alone. Many of these young women do face criticism, bullying, and harassment for doing what they love. Some people still keep their obsession a secret because of the derision they are likely to face. Hopefully, as the story and the movement expands and becomes more accepted, this will die down.
Image via CBC
A documentary, Hobbyhorse Revolution, has been created by filmmaker Selma Vilhunen about this emerging subculture. The film follows three young women as they face the struggles of being hobbyhorse enthusiasts and the support they receive from their horsey community. Check out a trailer for the documentary below:
The hobby has spread from Finland into Sweden, Germany, and France. There are rumbles here and there of it spreading further around the world.
Being a hobbyhorse hobbyist is something of an exercise in being open-minded. You learn to be accepting of yourself and others for being different, and being totally open with your imagination and embracing what that brings. It is also a way to be a horsewoman in a way that fits into your budget, because everyone knows that horses are awesome, even the wood and fluff ones. Yes, this really is a thing.
Maybe, just maybe, these women have discovered a way to hang on to the happiness of childhood in the midst of being a serious adult. Maybe next time I fall in love with a stick horse I won't be so shy about buying it.
If you want to start a group in your area, click here.