The Hobby Horse; A Strange History

Saint-Georges-et-dragonEarly 19th century depiction of Hobby Horse Riders slaying a dragon

I was writing a piece about rocking horses when I chanced upon the above image of Hobby Horse dancers. I found it so weird, wonderful and funny that I decided to find out a bit more about Hobby Horses.

I think most of us know the Hobby Horse as a toy.; a horse's head attached to a long stick. The child places it between their legs and then runs around the house pretending (or is it believing) they are a horse. Lest you think that play pattern is a thing of the past, walk by a park and you may see people playing Harry Potter's Quidditch, running around a field with a broomstick between their legs.

What shouldn't have surprised me (but did) was the long history of the Hobby Horse which dates back to at least the 15th century. For most of that time it has not been used as a child's toy but as costumes to be worn at celebrations, primarily rites of Spring. 

Here are a few images for you to enjoy.


Vintage child's Hobby Horse with wheel

Morris_dancers_Thames_at_RichmondHobby Horse  Dancer, England, circa 1620


 Illustration, Hobby Horse Bicycle, 19th century

Leave a Reply