WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Many young girls in Finland are getting into the hobbyhorse craze as a form of self-expression.
- Girls can even participate in hobbyhorse events to exhibit riding skills in front of an audience.
- The hobbyhorsing craft allows the young girls to feel accepted for their unique interest.
Others might find it a bit bizarre, but Finland’s young girls proudly ‘prance away’ with their toy horses – heads held high, with no fear of being mocked by others – as they participate in the country’s hobbyhorse community.
Hobbyhorsing. It’s the art dancing and exhibiting riding skills using a stick attached to a toy horse’s head. To some, it looks like the girls are merely playing pretend with their toy horses, but it gets real as they join competitions because they get to take care of their hobbyhorse as though it were a real horse, and they can even select the breed and gender.
Hobbyhorse temperaments, bloodlines and even the hobbyhorse diets and training routines are topics that are commonplace in these events. The Times covered a recent Helsinki hobbyhorse event and reported that “A veterinarian lectured girls on hobbyhorse vaccination schedules, saying ‘check that the eyes are clear and there is no nasal discharge.’”
The hobbyhorsing craft apparently plays an important role in the young girls’ ability to express themselves, allowing them a chance to feel accepted for the things that they like – something that they might not find elsewhere.
For instance, Fanny Oikarinen, 11, told the Times that “The normal things, that normal girls like, they don’t feel like my things.”
Hobbyhorse enthusiast Alisa Aarniomaki, who now gained online fame because of her hobbyhorsing videos, still had second thoughts about sharing her talent to kids in school. According to Aarniomaki, now 22 years old, a few schoolmates ridiculed her when they saw her practicing outside.
She told the Times “It didn’t fit with their idea of a 12-year-old girl,” she added, “They said I would never get a boyfriend.”
Finnish filmmaker Selma Vilhunen, who produced a documentary about hobbyhorsing in 2017, described it as an activity that allows little girls to be strong and wild.
For an art form that has its foundation on make-believe, the effects are genuine for those who embrace it fully. As Fanny told the Times, “I have many friends who are interested in it too, so I knew I wasn’t alone.”