Hobby Horse competition to be hosted by BSPS

Hobby Horse competition to get underway. Image of a hobby horse

On April 1st this year, the British Show Pony Society (BSPS) announced that it would ‘embrace’ the new hobby horse craze by the introduction of a competition where competitors could win prizes of up to £300! Initially considered by some to be an April Fools Day prank, which appeared on the pages of H&H website, this is actually a genuine, bona fide competition. After publishing the article, H&H had to release a separate statement confirming that this was not an April Fool’s day prank and clarifying that this was a true story.   

The craze, which originated in Finland, is quickly spreading to many other parts of the world and involves participants riding a rudimentary toy hobby horse made from a wooden stick with a decoration resembling a pony’s head attached to one end. ‘Riders’ mainly consist of young girls who compete by taking their hobby horse around a ring, trotting, cantering, galloping and even leaping over small jumps.  

While football news continues to dominate the sporting headlines, could hobby horse competition be the new craze for 2024? Is it possible instead of horses on the road, we see budding enthusiasts trotting along bridle paths with their wooden steed? Let’s take a look at the history of the game.

Hobby horse riding can be traced back across many cultures and many centuries, even appearing in some 16th century Spanish oil paintings. The toy horses have also long been included in Morris dancing fetes and are traditionally associated with mummer’s plays and Mayday celebrations. They were an integral, traditional part of the English royal courts of medieval England and have been subject to many extinctions and revival periods. The name, Hobby Horse, originates from the Anglo Saxon word ‘hobby’ meaning a small horse and they have also been known throughout history as ‘hobye horse’ in 1460 and in an historic Cornish play ‘Beunans Meriasek’ as hebyhors’ in 1504.  


So, it seems that although the craze appears to be a relatively contemporary competition, it can be seen to date back through the ages and this newer performance has, once again, revived the age old tradition and brought the popularity of the hobby horse bang up to date! 

Children taking part in this fun sport perform a free-style display of no more than two minutes and will earn 50 marks for balance, coordination, energy and body control. Additional points can be achieved for overall performance of the show with energy and appeal.

Participants are graded into three classes: 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12. There is no specific dress code; however, entrants are expected to wear trainers or gym shoes that allow for pointing toes. The hobby horse itself may be plaited or unplaited.  

The BSPS told the Guardian “We are a children’s society and, as such, it is important to ensure that we make sure our championship shows are fun for all our smaller members. We hope that this will raise awareness of our extensive children’s entertainment programme at both the BSPS summer and winter championships. 

“All the children’s entertainment is free and includes a playbus, craft room, iBox bus, football competition, fancy dress, disco and fashion show, and parties for the adults, and enables the BSPS to stand out against other major society shows.” 

The toy horse sport has taken off to the extent that there are now coaches and regular competitions, with participants assigning their ‘horses’ names, breeds and genders. Meetings even cover everything from in depth discussions of grooming, bloodlines, temperament and on one occasion even included a dressage routine choreographed to music.  

In an age when children and young people are bombarded with social media and gaming platforms, it is encouraging to see something where young girls and children are encouraged to be young, strong, uninhibited, and imaginative. 

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