Aiming to keep a light burning in the gloom, I bring you some more insight into the lives of animals, though in the second part the animals are humans. Well, Finns.

Apparently lots of animal species like music. Marmosets and elephants, for example, are partial to a bit of Nessun Dorma, get stirred by some Nimrod, and are relaxed by lullabies. Cool.

Now given the universal human phenomena of making and listening to music, you might have expected our nearest relatives to share our appreciation of all things melodic. You’d think the great apes would be hip to the beat. After all, we already know about the Funky Gibbon.* Why not the rest?

Well, here’s the thing. Chimpanzees don’t give a rat’s arse about music. Despite being our closest rellies, when exposed to Mozart or Beethoven, or Adele or Justin Bieber, they show complete indifference. They neither jig about in delight, nor seek out places away from the music where it’s quiet.

The lack of avoidance behaviour is a remarkable finding. If I were a chimp in captivity and somebody started playing Justin Bieber at me, I’d go apeshit (haha). I’d be jumping up and down, shrieking and showing my gnashers, all in a manner to try and indicate the words, ‘In the name of all that’s holy! MAKE IT STOP. MAKE IT STOP NOW! Please. I’ll go to the tea party, anything you like, but I’m begging you, please make it stop.’ Maybe it’s just me.

We now focus our attention on Finland. This is ofttimes stated to be the most contented country on earth. It’s packed with strapping Nordic types with surnames that consist of too many vowels, and have an unhealthy reliance on the letter ‘k’.**

They’re all bonkers, as you’ll know if you have ever seen their rally drivers in action on icy gravel on the forest stages. Charming, but bonkers, a bit like Icelanders.

They’ve developed a sport that combines their need for speed with their inherent barminess. Next month sees the annual Hobbyhorse Championships outside Helsinki. In this event, riders of hobbyhorses go through showjumping routines. Yes, hobbyhorse showjumping. There’s even a dressage event. How does that work?

You might think this is very much a niche sport, but you might be wrong. Over 10,000 Finns compete or actively follow the sport. If you’re of a mind to, look for #kepparitkunnian. You can apparently find some useful tips on there, and lots of images like this.


*If you get that reference you’ve been lying about your age.

** Here’s something that made me smile. The popular surname Karpinnen is derived from ‘karppi,’ which means ‘carp.’ Think about that for a second.