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No One Was Expecting This AGT Act’s Hard Pivot: What is Hobby Horsing?

Is hobby horsing nothing but horseplay or a serious hobby? AGT fans learned on Episode 6.

By Jill Sederstrom

This America’s Got Talent Act involved some serious horseplay — and it left the Judges stunned. 

How to Watch

Watch America’s Got Talent Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC and next day on Peacock

For the first time on the AGT stage, Ada Filppa showed off the unusual sport of hobby horsing, a unique outlet for horse lovers who may not be able to take a horse to a place like the AGT stage

RELATED: Heidi Klum Says She "Got Into So Much Trouble" for Participating in This AGT Act

“I’m here because I want to show you something you’ve never seen before, AGT,” Filppa announced after taking the stage.

Ada Filppa’s Horse Act Had a Twist

Ada Filppa on stage with her hobby horse on America's Got Talent Episode 1906

Before the Season 19 Act began, Filppa, a native of Finland, shared how her love of horses had transformed her life. Juxtaposed with videos and photos of her riding, Filppa explained in an introduction video how she had always dreamed of owning her own horse one day, but her parents were “a little bit scared.” 

When she was eight, however, her classmates started riding and Filppa was able to join them at the stable, where she rode a horse for the first time.

“That was immediately love and I was, right away, this is my thing,” she said. “I'm going to be the best.” 

Filppa went on to share that at the age of 15 she won the Finnish championships in the sport she loved. 

“I’m really, really good at it,” she said, later telling host Terry Crews she had competed in 200 competitions over the last 15 years. 

But while the Judges and the audience may have been expecting Filppa to perform an equestrian feat — they were stunned when she emerged onstage to the backdrop of the 1980s hit “Maniac” by Michael Sembello with a small hobby horse between her legs. 

What is Hobby Horsing?

Ada Filppa on stage with her hobby horse on America's Got Talent Episode 1906

Filppa was demonstrating the art of hobby horsing, a quirky craze that has swept the nation of Finland and drawn in thousands of devoted followers. 

So, just what is hobby horsing?

HobbyHorse.com described it as the perfect blend of “sport, hobby and creative play.” Participants use stick horses, they’ve often meticulously created themselves with fabric and stuffing, to compete in events designed to mimic equestrian competition. 

According to Young Rider Magazine, this can include everything from dressage and show jumping to western riding or hunter jumping. 

Filppa demonstrated on AGT by galloping across the stage with her hobby horse and using her legs to leap over equestrian fences, giving the impression that the hobby horse was performing like an actual horse. 

CNN profiled the unusual craze in 2017 and spoke to Filppa, who was working as a PR manager for the Finnish Hobby Horse Federation. At the time, she estimated that around 10,000 people in Finland were regular hobby horse participants. 

The documentary Hobby Horse Revolution also focused on what has drawn many to the creative and athletic pastime. 

Filppa herself has used social media to promote the hobby, sharing her “training” routines on TikTok or sharing images on Instagram, where she lists herself as a “Hobby Horse Athlete, coach and influencer.” 

What Did the Judges Say? 

Ada Filppa on stage with her hobby horse on America's Got Talent Episode 1906

For Filppa, hobby horsing is clearly one of her greatest passions — but to most of the AGT Judges, it may have seemed more like just horsing around. 

“I don’t understand this,” Judge Sofia Vergara said. 

One Judge who not only enjoyed the show, but also has even participated in hobby horsing himself was Judge Howie Mandel.

“I’ve seen competitions and there’s hundreds of people doing it and it’s very serious,” he said. 

“I don’t know in what world I live in, but I had no clue that this existed,” Vergara chimed in. 

When Judge Heidi Klum playfully asked Vergara if they should take up hobby horsing together, Vergara got straight to the point. 

“No,” she said. 

While Simon Cowell admitted it was something AGT had never seen before, he wasn’t won over by the performance either.

“I mean if it looked more realistic, but it’s only a head,” he said. 

It didn’t help that a nervous Filppa knocked over two of the bars after failing to clear the fence.

Vergara, Cowell and Klum were quick to deliver their “no” votes, leaving Mandel to cast the lone "yes" vote.

 “I’m going to say neigh,” Cowell quipped.

Mandel’s enthusiastic endorsement wasn’t enough to move Filppa forward in the competition, which left the 23-year-old — at least this time — to ride off into the sunset empty handed.

Catch up on America's Got Talent on Peacock.