Annual hobby horse championship

Hobby horse enthusiasts from all over Finland gathered in Vantaa on Saturday for annual championships.

This year’s main event took place at a packed sports hall attracting an estimated 1,000 spectators to watch some 200 participants competing with their hobby horses in several sub-categories.

Riders, almost all girls aged mostly between 10-18, competed in sports that simulate traditional equestrian events like dressage and show jumping. For show jumping, competitors were divided by age into several groups that all had their own winners announced after each group had finished.

The vast majority of the hobby horses are home-made – splendidly pimped-up, colourful creatures complete with names like Chattanooga Choo Choo and Panda – exchanged and sold by owners at events and through social media. Some of them have been known to fetch up to 200 euros (218 US dollars).

Some 10,000 people are currently estimated to be involved in hobby-horsing in Finland, and its popularity is also growing steadily in the other Nordic countries and elsewhere in Europe, though the numbers are much smaller.

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