There's a weird new hobby in Finland and it's empowering women

HobbyHorse Revolution/YouTube

Finland is holding a national show jumping competition, in which the (almost all) female participants ride toy horses.

As frivolous as these images may look, the video reveals the amount of energy needed.

It is essentially hurdling, combined with gymnastics, with the added obstacle of a stick of wood between your legs.

According to the Times there are more than 10,000 enthusiasts, and regional contests are organised by volunteers.

The sport is dominated by women, but some men do partake.

One enthusiast for 'hobby horsing', Alisa Arniomaki told the Associated Press:

It has helped me a great deal that I can occasionally just go galloping into the woods with my friends. It somehow balances my mind.

The subculture around the sport includes the use of hashtag '#kepparitkunniaan' - meaning 'respect the hobby horse'.

In addition to sharing images of the sport in action, many share images of their personal horse.

The activity is not restricted to posing and performing with the hobby horse, many participants design and craft their own.

Rider and 'horse' are paired, as with show jumping on living horses.

In 2017 the documentary maker Selma Vilhunen released the film Hobby Horse Revolution. Vilhunen followed around enthusiasts for a year, in the run up to a national competition.

In the film, many participants discuss how the sport helped them grow in confidence, or get through more distressing times in the life.

Taija Turkki, an 18-year-old who coaches other enthusiasts told AP

It's very bizarre for other people to see, for the first time especially, this kind of stuff, Because they think we think the horse is alive, which we do not. We understand that it's dead, made of fabric and all that.

HT Times, Associated Press

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