A ‘Grand National’ and a chase-me-charlie: kids and adults enjoy UK hobby horse show

  • A “Grand National”, a chase-me-charlie that went over 1m and happy riders all round – but not a real horse in sight.

    Zoe Brown and her daughter Elowen were a bit anxious before their first Hobby Horse Adventures show, at Mill Lane Stables, Selby, on 3 February, but it was a huge success with 75 people entered, and they are planning their next event.

    “They didn’t stop all day!” Zoe told H&H. “They were all really nice kids; I thought they’d be buying sweets but they were too busy in the warm-up and arenas.”

    Zoe said Elowen, 10, has her own pony, but is more interested in hobby-horsing.

    “She gets hobby horses for her birthday and Christmas, and she and her friends go in the garden and construct jumps out of whatever they can, and run round jumping them,” she said. “She’s been doing it for a long time and has been wanting to go to events.”

    Zoe looked into competitions and found a major one in Finland, and she even looked into flights but it seemed a major undertaking. She said Elowen and her friends used to go with her to the stables and ride their hobby horses over jumps in the arena there, but this had to stop owing to insurance issues.

    “Elowen goes to Mill Lane to do something called pony patrol, a fun day once a month,” she said. “I said to the people at the stables I was going to run a hobby horse show there and they thought I was mad – but quickly realised there was a big calling for it.”

    Zoe booked the venue and started advertising the show soon after Christmas.

    “Parents were saying they’d been looking for something like this, and looking into going to Finland; they were thrilled,” she said.

    On the day, competitors took part in singles and pairs jumping classes from 10cm to 70cm, as well as the “Grand National” jump racing, in groups of five. There were rosettes and special prizes on offer and a photographer present to take action and portrait shots.

    Picture by Debbie Todd Photography

    “The portraits capture the children’s innocence and love of hobby horses,” Zoe said. “People don’t get it: ‘It’s a horse’s head on a stick’; they don’t understand that the children? love them and they’ve got personalities, and they have different ones for different disciplines!”

    And it’s not just for children, Zoe added; one competitor there on Saturday was 50, and there to tick it off her bucket list.

    “Whatever people want to do is fine,” Zoe said. “She was thrilled to be there.”

    Zoe added that the feedback has been good, including from parents who had expected to be bored and were pleasantly surprised. She and Elowen are planning the next of their monthly events, with space-hopper classes and possibly dressage planned for the future.

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