The term itself is merely repetition, as, six centuries ago, a hobby was a horse, a small horse, probably a nickname for Robin.
But hobbyhorse comes to us from the sixteenth-century morris dance, commonly held throughout England at Whitsuntide, mid-May.
Although the characters in these festivals chiefly represented Robin Hood and others of his company, Friar Tuck and Maid Marian invariably, there was also always a horseman ostensibly astride a small horse, dancing fantastically among the group.
In reality the horse was a gaily caparisoned framework of wicker or the like, surmounted by an imitation of a horse’s head, all carried by the rider.
The morris dance has long since departed; the hobbyhorse, considerably modified for the sport of young children, is the sole survivor.