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Queensland holds Australia’s first championship for hobby horsing as TikTok spurs on membership

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Welcome to the world of hobby horses – if you haven’t heard of it, your kids probably have.

The once-obscure sport has grown in popularity over the past few years, largely due to its presence on TikTok.

This week, dozens of riders from across the country have come to Morayfield, north of Brisbane, to take part in the first state championship for hobby horsing to be held in Australia.

Three wooden hobby horses gathered together and leaning against each other

A gaggle of hobby horses for the hobby horse course.(ABC News: Arianna Levy)

For 12-year-old Khloe Nissen, hobby horsing has been a way to connect with her mum Stacey, who also competes.

“It’s a lot of fun, and it’s exercise,” she said.

Stacey Nissen joined the group with her horse Donatella to support her daughter.

Khloe Nissen and her mum Stacey are both competitive hobby horse riders

Khloe Nissen and her mum Stacey both compete.(ABC News: Arianna Levy )

“With so much going on these days, being able to actually spend time with your kids on a hobby horse is fantastic,” she said.

Hobby Horses Australia, the organisation behind the championship competition, has had a surge in members. 

A group of young girls talk as they examine an indoor hobby horse riding course

Competitors check out the course and compare notes before taking it on.(ABC News: Arianna Levy)

“It’s a hobby that reflects the real equestrian sports with real horses but without the mess, drama and transport of floats,” hobby horse enthusiast and organiser Coralie Kedzlie said.

“It’s economic and for so many riders it’s just a wonderful community that embraces everyone”.

Supporting neurodiversity

Adelaide Wallis, 11, says the sport has helped her make friends and keep fit.

She discovered hobby horsing through Equestria, which works with people who are neurodiverse. 

Adelaide Walliss, 11, with her hobby horse

Adelaide Walliss says she’s made a bunch of friends since taking the reins.(ABC News: Arianna Levy)

“Most people think it’s a bit cringe but I don’t think that – it’s so good for your muscles, your mind and your creativity,” she said.

“I have made so many friends from social media, real life and the club since joining.”

Irina Amelina from Equestria has 25 years as a horse rider and is also trained in therapeutic horse riding.

“The championship shows the kids that they are in a safe space where they’re accepted and have created a structure for competition on an even playing field,” Ms Amelina said.

A dream come true

Juliette Ahearn has been hobby horsing for two years. She said it’s the best way for her to keep up with her real horse riding as well.

The 10-year-old brought along her new hobby horse Sadie to compete in the events.

A young girl stares lovingly at her wooden hobby horse

Juliette says Sadie helps her maintain horse-riding skills.(ABC News: Arianna Levy)

“Sadie is just gorgeous, she’s a little spicy and sassy but she’s a Hanoverian mare – so you’d expect that,” Juliette said.

Despite rolling her ankle during the first week of school holidays, Juliette was determined to compete at the first state championship.

“I have always dreamed of being here, I said I don’t care I am strapping my ankle and going.”

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