Is there a chance that the sport of hobby horse riding will be added to the disciplines at the World Equestrian Games?
The USA’s Tryon International Equestrian Center, which will host WEG 2018, is offering hobby horse competitions for the first time, at its summer series this year.
Originating in Finland, the sport of hobby horsing has riders – with a toy consisting of a stick with a model horse head – competing in show jumping and dressage tests, with judges scoring their performances. Showjumping courses are set with tricky combinations and patterns, similar to the show jumping competitions seen at equestrian venues around the world.
Tryon in North Carolina is hosting the inaugural American Hobby Horse competition during its five-week Summer Series, culminating with a final championship event on Saturday, July 22, in the George H. Morris Arena.
Pegged as a “safe, fun and affordable way to ride horses” hobby horse competition offers youth the ability to experience the pressure of organized competition, without the expense or logistical efforts surrounding competing on a horse, which can be demanding financially. Competitions run similarly to regular horse shows, offering different fence heights for jumpers and tests/levels for dressage riders. Riders receive ribbons and awards for top-placing finishes and practice their skills before competition with trainers and coaches.
The series at Tryon is thought to be the first organised competition for hobby horsing in the US.
Riders must complete the entire course with their hobby horse and will incur four faults for every rail lowered during their time on course. Results will be based on the time in which the rider completes the course, with the fastest rider taking first place. The top eight places will be awarded ribbons for each division at the conclusion of competition.
The top 12 combinations for each class designation will have the opportunity to qualify for the championship competition on Saturday, July 22.
Special awards will be given each week to the Best Hobby Horse, Best Turned Out Rider, and Best Stable. Stabling rules for those competing with a team require coordinating or matching outfits and tack, while stable decorations in team colors will be up for a chance to win the Best Stable Award.
Divisions will be designated by school grade. The Kindergarten and Younger Division will offer a Cross Rails class of fences from 6 inches to 12 inches. The First – Fifth Grade Division will host four classes, including Cross Rails (6″-12″), 18″, 2′, and 2’6″. The Sixth – Eighth Grade Division will offer classes in the following heights, Cross Rails (6″-12″), 18″, 2′, 2’6″, and 3′. An Open Class featuring a High Jump competition will also be offered each week.