The teen love affair with horses in Finland now has a new and unusual outlet thanks to the latest craze – hobbyhorsing.
The heart of the pastime appears to be Finland, where girls well into their teenage years are straddling a horse head mounted on a stick to take part in their own versions of the equestrian disciplines.
The girls are proving adept at completing dressage tests, tackling jumps courses, and even enjoying a pleasant hack in the wilderness.
Its growing popularity has generated a social media subculture, with the young people taking to YouTube, Instagram and online discussion forums to share their passion.
There are even organized regional competitions across Finland and a national championship.
It remains firmly the domain of girls and young women, with estimates putting the number of participants in Finland alone at around 10,000.
The pastime, with its prancing and running, appears to be excellent exercise and undoubtedly cultivates friendships.
The secretary-general of Finland’s Equestrian Federation, Fred Sundwall, told the Associated Press: “We think it’s simply wonderful that hobby-horsing has become a phenomenon and so popular.”
Every handcrafted hobbyhorse has its own name and personality, and many have their own back story. The group’s hashtag on Instagram is #kepparitkunniaan – which translates to “respect the horse”.
The movement has even inspired a documentary, Hobbyhorse Revolution, directed by Selma Vilhunen. The film follows three young girls, whose lives have been transformed by hobby-horsing.
“They can practice for hours and hours every day,” Vilhunen says. “Some of them get really good at jumping; their capacity is enormous.”
regram @ratsastajainliitto #Repost @helsinginsanomat with @repostapp ・・・ Laura Ambasciano ja Pyry Tynkkynen harjoittelevat keppihevosilla esteratsastusta ennen viikonlopun SM-kisoja. Kuva: Juha Metso. Lue lisää: hs.fi/kaupunki. #kepparit #kepparitkunniaan #keppihevostensm2017 #keppihevosten_sm_kilpailut