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The Finnish Sport of Hobby Horsing Needs to Let Men In

Hobby horsing, or as it's sometimes referred to "Vegan Horse Riding" (because it does not exploit horses), gained popularity in Finland back in 2002. Since then it's taken off. 10 years later, Finland was recognizing hobby horsing as an official sport. It is very real, and people take it very seriously. Now on Saturday, June 15th in the South Ostrobothnia region of Finland, the capital city of Seinäjoki will be hosting the 11th annual Finnish Hobby Horsing Championships, where at least 20 of the "world's best" hobby horsers will compete for the crown of Finnish National Hobby Horse Champion.

There are two main competitions at the national championships. There's the Dressage Championship

(If you think that looks very stupid and extremely easy, you couldn't be more wrong. There's so much that goes into a championship level dressage routine. Riders are critiqued harshly on their rhythm & stamina. The balance of their gait, the elevation and elasticity of their steps. The rider's posture, rein contact, and horse's positioning is crucial. They're judged on their collected walk, trot, and canter. Their double canter pirouette, zig-zag half passes, and piaffe pirouette must be sharp. They required to perform at minimum 9 one-tempi flying changes in a row. A good dressage routine tells a story, etc.) 

Then of course there's the Show Jumping Championship, where riders maneuver their vegan horses around a course where they must clear obstacles as high as 110 cm (3.28 feet).

Hobby horsing continues to skyrocket in popularity with each passing year. Even outside the communist nation of Finland, hobby horsing has begun to pick up steam. Hobby horsing organizations are even popping up right here in the United States. In my opinion, it's great to see. Many people are calling it the sport of the future. And I promise you, there's no one in the world rooting for the sport of hobby horsing to take off harder than I am. These young women look like they're having a delightful time. But if hobby horsing ever truly wants to be taken seriously, it is crucial that men take over. 

The whole point of sports is to eventually commercialize and squeeze as much money out of them as humanly possible. But as it stands, the world of competitive hobby horsing is almost exclusively dominated by Scandinavian girls between the ages of 10-15. So unless they want to hire Dan Schneider as commissioner and take hobby horsing down a very dark path, they're going to need to find a more athletic demographic of people to take their sport to new heights.

Need proof? Look no further than a quick side-by-side of league-wide annual earnings of male professional sports compared to female professional sports.

NBA: $10.58B

WNBA: $60M ($30M if Caitlin Clark gets sick of dealing with the bullshit and joins the Big 3)

NHL: $6.43B
Professional Women's Hockey League: number doesn't show up on first page of Google

MLB: $11.34B
Professional Fast-Pitch Softball: Literally has only 2 teams

NFL: $18B
Women's Football Alliance: had no clue this even existed

But unfortunately, the young women of hobby horse have a more selfish, narrow-minded, view of the sport. 

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AP - "I think this is a girl thing mostly, because this is where girls can be kind of free. There's no boys, like, coming and saying what's they need to do.. or.. like, bossing around." - Red Haired Finnish Hobby Horse Participant

That way of thinking is what will prevent hobby horse from ever reaching it's full financial potential. Although I will say, the websites of these hobby horse organizations do not directly come out and say "no boys allowed". They're very careful with their wording. Nowhere do they mention gender one way or another.

Finnish Hobbyhorse Championship - Open classes can be attended by anyone, regardless of age or nationality. However, there are qualifiers for the following classes online in advance, the best of which will be able to compete in the Finnish Championships. The qualifying open classes include the Kür dressage class and three classes for halter shows. 

But I certainly can't find any instances of young men competing in the prestigious Finnish Championships. Very interesting. Almost like men are quietly being shut out of the sport. The NFL would never do this. The NFL welcomes athletes of all genders with open arms, given they're able to contribute to the team's success and/or bottom line. As a matter of fact, in a hypothetical situation where a woman and a man of equal skill level were competing for the Jets starting QB role, the NFL would almost certainly go with the woman. The good PR from having the first ever woman as an NFL starting QB would be immeasurable, and jerseys would sell faster than they could print.

Gatekeeping men from hobby horsing is doing a disservice to the sport. 

But come next Saturday, Seinäjoki Arena will be nothing but women from wall to wall. Not a man in sight aside for a few uncomfortable dads and maybe a couple volunteers who should 1000% be followed closely by a police officer for the duration of the event.

What hobby horsing desperately needs is a star male athlete to head up some sort of "Men Can Ride Stick Too" campaign. No athletically gifted boy is going to take up hobby horsing if the face of the sport is a 14-year old, Scandinavian Taylor Swift fan. What they need is a superstar freak athlete who makes the sport look appealing to them. Imagine what LeBron James could do for hobby horsing? If LeBron James wanted to he could be the greatest hobby horse-ist in the world. But he's a bit tall to be the face of the league. We need someone who fits the profile of a horseback rider a little better… Someone like Tyreek Hill. Tyreek Hill would be perfect person to rip hobby horsing from the cold selfish hands of the greedy women who want to keep it to themselves. He's small like a jockey He's light on his feet. His vertical leap and 40 time are world class. He can do backflips. Tyreek Hill backflipping to end his dressage routine would set the sport on fire. Tyreek Hill would be the perfect face of hobby horsing.

Scott Cunningham. Getty Images.

Hobby horsing has the potential to be more than a fun and wholesome activity that women are able to enjoy amongst themselves. Not that hobby horsing shouldn't be fun. It should be fun at first. But in order to reach the highest level it should require enough time and dedication that you've grown to resent it, and want nothing more than to do literally anything else in the world, but now that you rely upon it financially you're stuck in that life for the rest of your career. Just like any proper sport. With the right marketing, and an aggressive Tyreek Hill-centric marketing campaign aimed at American children, I think hobby horsing can get there some day.

P.S. I forgot about this video. Doesn't have anything to do with this blog but felt like I should include it.

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