Young girls in Finland are pretending to ride horses — inside the prancing phenomenon

As I’m about to watch game 4 of the Stanley Cup final between St. Louis and Boston (that’s ice hockey for my Australian friends, and it’s on in background) I think of the Finnish trend of young girls prancing – pretending to ride horses.

According to a story in People, many young girls in the country have taken up the craft of “hobbyhorsing,” which sees them use a stick equipped with a toy horse’s head to dance and show off their riding skills at events.

While it may seem like the girls are simply pretending to ride their horses, it becomes as genuine as it can get at competitions, where they’ll learn how to care for their hobbyhorse just as if it were a real animal. They even pick its breed and gender.

Becoming a part of the country’s growing hobbyhorse community reportedly allows the girls to express themselves without fear of ridicule in something they may not find in school or in their neighborhood.

“The normal things, that normal girls like, they don’t feel like my things,” 11-year-old hobbyhorse enthusiast Fanny Oikarinen told the N.Y. Times.

 “Some are sports girls,” added Fanny’s friend, Maisa Wallius. “Some are really lonely girls. And some can be the coolest girl at school.”

Enthusiast Alisa Aarniomaki found online stardom thanks to her hobbyhorsing, but despite her popular videos, she was unsure about revealing her skills to kids at school.

Hobbyhorsing got the attention of filmmaker Selma Vilhunen, who released a documentary in 2017 about the craft.

“Little girls are allowed to be strong and wild,” Vilhunen said of hobbyhorsing. “I think the society starts to shape them into a certain kind of quietness when they reach puberty.

If it works for these girls, great. My five daughters all played or play (ice) hockey – the real kind.

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About Douglas Powell

A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time