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The custom, described as "only just extinct" by folklorist Violet Alford in 1952, has since been revived in various places.A New Year custom from the Isle of Man, involving a white-painted wooden horse's head with red-painted snapping jaws, with a white sheet attached.He is frequently shot at by the soldiers, falls from his mount, and is revived by the hobby horse and the fool, and returned to his mount.Finally, on reaching the beach, the Earl is executed and thrown into the sea.Draped in the sheet, a man would carry the head, racing unexpectedly into the room and chase any girls present out of the house, followed by the rest of the company.When the Laare Vane (white mare) caught a girl she would take his place under the sheet to carry the horse back into the house, sitting away from the others while a kind of sword-dance was performed with sticks by six male dancers to the tune "Mylecharane's March" played on the fiddle.Not all hobby horses fit into these categories, even within the UK.
The top surface of the horse is covered with ribbons and strips of fabric. A hobby horse is depicted in a stained glass window, dating from between 1550–1621, from Betley Hall, Staffordshire, now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, directly below a Maypole and surrounded by what appear to be morris dancers (accession no. A painting from c.1620, now in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, shows Morris dancers by the Thames at Richmond; their party includes a hobby horse. Some historical English Morris dance "sides" (teams) had hobby horses associated with them, but the popularity of such animals with morris sides today probably dates from the early years of the morris revival, when Ilmington Morris created a tourney horse, ridden by Sam Bennett for many years.Some modern revival sides have extended their animal repertoire in various imaginative and appropriate ways, e.g.In Indonesia, flat silhouettes of horses are suspended between the dancers' legs (see individual entries, below).The most famous traditional British hobby horses are probably those of the May Day 'Obby 'Oss festival in Padstow, Cornwall.
There is a small, wooden, horse's head with snapping jaws, attached to a long, straight neck, with a long mane, which sticks out from the front of the frame.