Hobbyhorsing on Waiheke Island is quite a quirky ride
Who said you need to own a fancy, expensive horse to compete in show jumping or dressage?
Definitely not Waiheke High School student Emma Wilton - who is bringing New Zealand's first-ever organised Hobbyhorse competition to the island, a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland.
If you have not yet heard of it, Hobbyhorsing is a quirky new trend sweeping across the globe in which teenage girls or boys straddle a stuffed horse head on a wooden stick and compete in national dressage and show jumping competitions - with judges scoring their performances.
The obscure sport captured the world's attention earlier this year when Oscar award-nominated director Selma Vilhunen shone the spotlight on the craze in her documentary Hobbyhorse Revolution.
Wilton, 11, shared her idea of a Waiheke Hobby Horse Championships on the Waiheke Community Facebook Page and was overwhelmed with the interest she received.
Numerous school students want to compete, The Waiheke Pony Club have offered the use of their facilities and adults have volunteered to help where needed.
Mum Christine Wilton said she and her daughter were immensely grateful to the pony club and would be using its jumps but would be holding the event in the grounds of Blackpool Old School.
So, the Waiheke Hobby Horse Championships is pencilled in for 11am on June 25 for ages eight to 14 at the old school.
The event will run similarly to a regular horse show - there will be different fence heights for jumpers and tests/ levels for dressage riders and winners will receive ribbons and awards.
Competitors do not need any prior experience but need to bring their own Hobbyhorse.
Emma Wilton said the sport was a fun and affordable way to ride horses but her favourite aspect of Hobbyhorsing was freedom.
"Firstly, free in the way that you do not have to worry about the horse biting you or falling from very high up.
"But, your imagination is also free, I love that you can make-believe anything you want," Wilton said.
For example, along with naming, feeding, decorating and grooming their Hobbyhorse, many young enthusiasts give their steeds personalities and backstories.
Wilton has even made her Hobbyhorse a stable and places a horse cover over its wooden body at night while it sleeps.
Christine Wilton said not only was it fascinating to watch the level of creativity but the sport could also be athletic.
"Some adults could not complete the obstacle courses these kids create - a jump can be over one metre high," she said.
Call 021 324747 for more information.