Hobby Horse Revolution

DESCRIPTION: A radio interview with the director of a documentary about the rise of organised, competitive toy hobby horse riding in Finland (watch the trailer here)


Evolve (verb): Change by developing and progressing

Subculture (noun): A cultural group with it’s own culture within a larger culture

Calibre (noun): Standard/level

Solace (noun): Comfort/support in a difficult time

Baffled (adjective): Confused; failing to understand

April Fools Day (noun): A day on 1st April when friends play jokes on each other


They try to make the hobby horses as ______________ as possible:

What helped hobby horsing to grow in Finland?

People who have already seen the documentary:



Ray: Anyway, Hobbyhorse Revolution! That’s what got us started on things we used to do as kids is a documentary about the phenomenon that is hobbyhorsing in Finland, and the director is Selma Vilhunen, and Selma is on the line from Finland. How are you doing, Selma?

Selma: Hi, I’m okay. Just getting ready for our premiere here. I’m in the cinema. And there’s a lot of people coming in here with hobby horses into the cinema. So it’s a little bit crazy right now, actually.

Ray: Will you describe your typical hobby horse for us? The ones that are there in front of you.

Selma: A typical hobby horse?

Ray: Yeah, a typical one

Selma: Yeah, well, the hobby horses, they are quite proud about making them as realistic as possible, so they… For example, it’s usually made of 3 pieces. You have, like, the side pieces and then you have the middle piece. So it gives more, like, depth, and like, form in the horse. And they kind of like, imitate certain breeds so it matters if it’s a pony or a horse and what breed it is, and so on. And that’s just basically, absolutely beautiful.

Ray: Yeah, so we’d all be familiar with hobby horses but it’s sort of – I was saying yesterday – it sounds like something not from the last century but from the previous century. Where do you think this organised hobby horsing started?

Selma: Well, it was from people here in Finland. Some teenage girls around 12 or 10 years ago who kind of took their play to the next level and took their play to the next level. And somehow they found each other, maybe it was thanks to the internet, and then they inspired others and they inspired others. And suddenly there was already a huge group of people who could do all kinds of things together. So, that’s how it started.

Ray: And the competitions then evolved out of that?

Selma: Sorry, can you say that again?

Ray: Did the competitions evolve out of that then?

Selma: Yeah. I think the competition have been there all along and they have just become more and more elaborate over the years. And the hobby itself and the subculture has been growing and growing ever since. And, there are competitions of different sort of calibres. So some are really small and some are really huge and it takes like a whole year and dozens of people to organise them.

Ray: Yeah. You spent quite a lot of time with some of the teenage girls who do hobby horsing . And some of them find sort of solace in it, it’s a sense of community that they wouldn’t have had in their school or whatever. And in hobby horsing they find comfort. Would that be it?

Selma: Yeah that’s true. Although I would say that they’re not necessarily marginalised in any specific way. I think that in the community, there are all kinds of kids. Kind of like, just your regular kids. But maybe I could say that somehow kids in general or girls, are marginalised. Or, let me say, the space to really be yourself– how to put it – to be your full self – it’s not very big. So perhaps they have now in this hobby, they have sort of created a world, like a universe where they can be themselves more completely than in the sort of normal world.

Ray: Okay, and there’s dressage. And they get a score for the dressage. And then they have to complete the jump part of it. Is that it?

Selma: Yeah, that sort of imitates the real horse…

Ray: The showjumping

Selma: Yeah, yeah

Ray: I have to say Selma, because I’ve said it yesterday and again today, when I saw you’re documentary I thought it was some sort of elaborate April Fools’ Day joke!

Selma: Haha yeah. Yeah, yeah. Yeah I can understand that. A lot of people are baffled. And it does raise a lot of questions that…. Yeah! But, em…

Ray: So it’s the premiere tonight, that’s very exciting! How do you think it’s going to be received?
Selma: Sorry?

Ray: How do you think people are going to react to it?

Selma: Well, we’ve already had, we’ve kind of had our world premiere already a couple of weeks ago and it was received really really well. We were in a film festival here in Tampa in Finland and we won 2 prizes and that was really remarkable. And also the film has been selected to Toronto Hot Docs and Switzerland, just some really nice documentary festivals so I guess I could say that those who have already seen it, do like it a lot. So I’m hopeful for tonight also. Tonight is the night when we have the theatrical premiere and ??? premiere.

Ray: Okay, well, the big that I’ve seen is heartwarming, and good luck with the premiere tonight. It’s called Hobby Horse Revolution, watch out for it when comes to a Netflix, or an Apple TV or a cinema near you. Selma Vilhunen, good luck with that tonight, thank you!

Selma: Thank you, thank you. Goodbye!