Unconventional athletics like hobby-horsing and goat yoga gain momentum

As addressed in our Game Changers Report, young generations are giving rise to nontraditional sports in order to make the industry more inclusive of passion points and physical abilities. Lately, atypical activities from hobby-horsing to goat yoga to axe throwing have amassed notable followings, demonstrating how youth seek to create more entry points for athletic engagement.


About 10,000 people throughout Finland, most of whom are tween and teen girls, are participating in an equestrian-like sport without real horses. Instead, they ride toy horses on sticks in an activity known as hobby-horsing, with many performing in competitions, including show jumping and dressage. Young women credit it as a form of female empowerment since they’re able to build the sport on their own terms. Online communities have even formed around it, with participants sharing training videos, horse-head making tutorials, and tips. Hobby-horsing, which is more financially inclusive than traditional equestrian activities, is coming to the U.S. next year.


Last year, a farm in Oregon garnered attention for developing goat yoga, where the animals wander around during classes, sometimes cuddling with participants and even hopping on their backs. The farm quickly amassed a waitlist of more than of 2,000 people eager to participate and obtain the therapeutic benefits (not to mention social currency), and other farms around the country began offering it, too. Goat yoga has since become a sensation, with farms in Arizona, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Texas offering their own take, and many selling out as well. Given the demand, other classes involving animals including yoga with bunnies, are starting to pop up, too.


Recently, competitive axe throwing has been catching on in the U.S., the UK, and Australia, with media outlets even dubbing it the “modern-day bowling.” While the sport has been popular in Canada for a while now, venues have just recently opened in other cities, including NYC, Chicago, London, Manchester, and Sydney. Coaches at facilities guide participants in throwing techniques, and then guests are handed axes to aim at wooden targets, with many people touting the sport’s help with stress relief. The activity comes with a catch: many venues serve alcohol, so participants must throw at their own risk.