A hobby horse is a toy horse (often made of wood), which can exist in many forms: on a merry-go-round, a wooden horse that rocks, or a stick with a horse's head and tail.

A hobby horse is also a specific subject that someone loves to talk about, about which he has very strong views and that comes up in any conversation whether appropriate or not.

Ah, but what Webster and most 20th century writers don't know is that a "hobbyhorse" was once a quite serviceable early form of a bicycle, and remains a viable form of transportation even now.

Picture a bicycle. Now picture it made of wood, somehow, with denser spokes, and a step-over frame. Take away the pedals. (To replicate this for your offspring, just take the pedals off whatever wheels you've gotten them. Also take away training wheels.) You now have a(n) hobbyhorse. It has two wheels, a seat, or saddle, and a way to keep all of this together.

Now then, you might ask, what is the practical use of all this, knowing what I know about chains and gears? A lot.

First, you can run along with this underneath your...Hmmm. When you get to a hill, you can run it upwards...and ride it downwards. Sometimes you can run really, really, fast...and coast a little bit. Soon you'll learn to steer, and keep it upright less by your crotch than by the same serpentine forces that keep Jefferson's wall at the University of Virginia up.

Congratulations, and mazel tov. You now can outrun most working horses. So? We-ellll...this would put you head and shoulders above most people in an animal-dependent world. It also will make you faster than the bully in the playground. The point is, a hobbyhorse is one of the best ways to learn to cycle, and if you find you just can't get off yours, since it's to walking what being high is to ordinary consciousness, well... that's everyone else's hangup, no?

Hob"by (?), Hob"by*horse` (?), n. [OE. hobin a nag, OF. hobin hobby; cf. hober to stir, move; prob. of German or Scand. origin; cf. Dan. hoppe a mare, dial. Sw. hoppa; perh. akin to E. hop to jump.]


A strong, active horse, of a middle size, said to have been originally from Ireland; an ambling nag.



A stick, often with the head or figure of a horse, on which boys make believe to ride.

[ Usually under the form hobbyhorse.]


A subject or plan upon which one is constantly setting off; a favorite and ever-recurring theme of discourse, thought, or effort; that which occupies one's attention unduly, or to the weariness of others; a ruling passion.

[Usually under the form hobby.]

Not one of them has any hobbyhorse, to use the phrase of Sterne. Macaulay.


© Webster 1913.

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