‘So much joy’: show’s tense wait to find if hobby-horse world record has been achieved

  • An event that started 43 years ago as a horse show and has diversified held what is hoped to have been a Guiness World Record-breaking line-up — of hobby horses.

    Organisers of the Hurst Show & Country Fayre (25-26 June) believe they smashed the previous record for the largest parade of “stick horses”, which was 250, as 263 turned up, but they have to wait for the attempt to be ratified.

    Show chairman Suzy Turner told H&H the event started 43 years ago as a gymkhana, to raise funds for the village school, and it became well known locally as a horse show.

    “Then, the year of foot and mouth, we went into hobby horses,” she said. “It was so sad we weren’t allowed the real ones, so the kids at the school made lots, and we had tack and turnout, and showjumping classes, we replaced so much with them.”

    Some 10 years ago, the show stopped running horse classes altogether, owing to restrictions on space and to do with regulations, so the number of hobby-horse events increased, leading to the show featuring on BBC Breakfast news about five years ago.

    “I do think we’re completely nuts!” Suzy said. “Every year since, we’ve had a big arena running through the show; on our old site, we had Pony Club and riding club demonstrations, to try to keep real horses in as much as possible, but on the new one, we can’t even do that so we have a course of showjumps, and led out the hobby horses, and the queue of kids is ridiculous, it’s hilarious.”

    Suzy added that for this year, the first full-scale event since 2019 owing to Covid, the committee was “desperate to do something” special. They considered a number of world records to do with hobby horses, but decided against attempting the highest jump and similar.

    “We thought let’s see if we could encourage the community to make and bring them; the majority that came were home-made, out of sticks and stones,” she said. “We spread the word in the wider community, and it was brilliant. We were very nervous; will people come, will it be a flop, the stress of it all —but it was brilliant.”

    The number of horses on the day did beat the previous record, but the show now faces a wait that could be 12 weeks long, for assessors to ensure all criteria were met.

    “It’s such an achievement, especially after Covid,” Suzy said. “It’s about trying to bring communities together, and to be officially on the map as the home of hobby horses would be perfect! It sounds ridiculous but we’re passionate about them; they bring so much joy to so many, for something so simple.

    “Adults and kids love them, and if we could be the official home of hobby horses, we’d be absolutely delighted.”

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