If you’re still coming to terms with the fact that people run around with brooms between their legs and call it quidditch, you might want to sit down for this next bit of news: Teens in Finland are participating in equestrian events on hobbyhorses, and they are taking these events very seriously.
The Wall Street Journal estimates that about there are about 10,000 participants—girls, mostly, but not exclusively—in Finland and a further 5,000 in Sweden, all of whom participate in various jumping and dressage competitions on hobbyhorse-back. But as absurd as I—an avowed fan of horse sports—know this to be, it’s kind of tricky to make fun of it. Consider this savagery from the Journal article:
The sport’s growing stable of riders is eliciting perplexity in serious equestrian circles. Professional riders puzzle at the age of the top contestants, some of whom legally qualify as adults and can drive themselves to competitions.
“You’re kidding me!” said Gunilla Swartling, director of the Swartling Riding School in Stockholm, Sweden, founded in 1905 by her great-grandfather, an officer in the Swedish cavalry. “Wow. I thought they were 9 or something...It’s like using a doll.”
It’s like using a doll because it is using a doll! But Gunilla, who has probably been riding real live horses that cost more than the average college tuition since she before she could walk, comes off like a real snob here. Horseback riding is a prohibitively expensive hobby for the average horse-obsessed, stringy-haired, socially-awkward teen. Also, I doubt Gunilla has ups like these:
I want the best for these young women, whose exploits in faux horsemanship are detailed in an upcoming documentary called, rather bombastically, Hobbyhorse Revolution. I want them to run and jump and admire the equine spirit. Real horses are pricy and poop a lot, and although LARPing with a stuffed animal stuck between your legs is an inelegant solution, it is a solution nonetheless.