It's all about the only native Finnish horse breed!

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Video: Savelan Hemuli

What can I say, it’s a beautiful video of a beautiful horse, here ridden by Elina Sjögren. Worth watching and sharing. :)

By Jasmine Kousa on Youtube.

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The effect of the “gait keeper” gene on performance in Finnhorses

From Alustavat tutkimukset suomenhevosten ravivarmuusgeenitutkimuksesta kuultiin Jalostuspäivillä ( 11.2.2015)

Camri (10) and Tekno Odin (6) Photo Suomen Hippos/Ilkka Nisula

Kim Jäderkvist is a Swedish PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences ( She visited Finland in February and gave a presentation about their study on the DMRT3, or the “gait keeper” gene on Finnhorses.

This gene mutation (A-variant) enables the horse to trot at fast speed without proceeding into gallop.

Earlier studies have shown that the gaited breeds, such as standardbred trotters, Tennessee walkers, Rocky Mountain horses, Icelandic horses and Peruvian pasos commonly have this mutation (AA), but many other, non-gaited breeds, such as thoroughbreds, Gotland ponies and many draft breeds don’t (CC).

Actually, the mutation was originally found from Icelandic horses during a study about the summer eczema.

Of course it’s important to remember that the mutation doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the horse will be a successful trotter. But these studies have shown that having that A-allele gives better odds. On the other hand the CC-horses more often have three clear gaits, which is a good trait for a riding horse.

Kim’s presentation was published online as well, you can find it here. (It’s in English!)

The recent study got sample hair from 180 Finnhorses with trotting performance data and 59 Finnhorses that were used for riding (altogether 239 horses).

I sent a few of Elyse’s hair to this study as well. I got the results a few weeks ago, she represents the CA-type. These heterozygous A-carriers have shown more varying performance on the race tracks, something between the AA and CC horses.

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Finnish Team for Vincennes 2015

From Pariisin kylmäveriottelun suomenhevososallistujat valittu ( 28.1.2015)

Metkutus visiting France. Photo: Suomen Hippos photo bank

The annual meeting for Nordic coldblood trotters takes place in Vincennes, Paris on  the19th and 22nd of February 2015. This will be the 14th annual meeting. The French trotting association calls teams from Finland, Sweden and Norway to compete in two races, Prix des Trotteurs Sang-Froid and Prix de Pays Nordiques – Trophee Järvsöfaks.

The Finnish team for this year was announced last week. Hiskin Muisto, Irwin, Passiton and Rapin Aatos will travel to Paris. Good luck!

EDIT 12.2.2015: Irwin had to scratch – Tosi-Jänkä will replace him (from

See how the Finn horses have succeeded in these races earlier by clicking here.

The Swedish Coldblood Team for Vincennes 2015


Cali Maks (trainer Jan-Olov Persson)
(trainer Jörgen Westholm)
Järvsö Björn
(trainer Jan-Olov Persson)
(trainer Jerker Bjurman)

I haven’t found the information about the Norwegians yet, though…

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2014 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Flag Counter report

This counter was installed 22nd of November in 2011. Over 100 flags have been collected since then!


Check out how the statistics have developed:

Thanks again to every visitor, liker, guest blogger and friend – may the new year bring good things to you.

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Merry Joulu!

Little Epeli sends his greetings too! (photos by Viivi)

For this Christmas I found an interesting piece of text about the Christmas tradition in Finland. The quote below is from “Suomenusko” Facebook page. I’m so glad they translate their posts in English as well! It’s also a great page to visit if you are interested in Finnish history and traditions in general.

There hasn’t been much of difference in our little stable’s life this Christmas – a few extra carrots and spruce branches to munch on, the horses just love them. :)

Joulu was a joyful family feast celebrating the harvest year that brought health, vitality and well-being for the whole year. On joulu people went to sauna, played games and spend good time together, ate well and remembered their ancestors, haltija spirits as well as domestic animals.

Many joulu customs have been transferred from kekri to joulu as the significance of the latter feast has grown in the course of history. Both are family celebrations which involve good food and beer. Similarly to kekri, the spirits of the ancestors for said to visit the living during joulu and sauna was heated for them. Also, luck for the new year was ensured by various customs on both kekri and joulu, and the future was also forecasted in many ways on both occasions.

On joulu, straws – also conifer twigs in some places – were spread on the floor and a decoration made from straws, called himmeli, was hung from the ceiling. The master of house poured a welcoming drink to one sheaf before it was opened and spread on the floor. The master of the house also threw straws between the roof and crane log. If a lot of straws got stuck there, the harvest would be good. If little straw stuck to the roof, the next year would be bad.

Traditional joulu had two elements that have remained strong in the contemporary Finnish culture: sauna and food. Sauna was considered a sacred placed, as is proven by the large number of sayings comparing sauna to a church. The spirit and body were purified in sauna before beginning a feast.

The joulu sauna was heated early so that everyone could wash up before dark and dress clean clothes for the joulu banquet. Foods were placed on the table before sauna in the the same way as in kekri, so that the dead could enjoy their joulu meal while the people bathed in the sauna. The master of the house was the last one to leave from sauna, and it was his duty to prepare everything so that the ancestral spirits could bathe there after the people left.

Foods needed to be offered also to the local spirits before people ate those foods. If a house had a sacrificial tree, small portion of every dish was set on the root of the tree. Food and liquor could also be taken to the barn, put on a bench and placed under the table as an offering. Only after the offerings were placed could people sit down and enjoy their banquet in good company.

Food was important on joulu because it symbolized the abundance of food on the next harvest. Traditional joulu foods include bread, meat dishes, beers and porridge. Foods were kept on the table for whole joulu, and, it was said that if even one dish run out, the house would face poverty in the future. Even the poorer houses did everything they could to get plenty of good food on the table for joulu. Cattle and horses were also treated especially well on joulu, and only the best hay and sometimes even bread and drinks were given to them.

Anssi A. / Suomenusko

Read more about the Finnish folk religion and culture in English here 

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The Finn horse is one of the strengths of Finnish travel industry

From Hevoset ja kunta – Rajapintoja: hevosmatkailu (e-book, p. 104-)


Summer night. Photo by Smerikal (CC 2.0)

Hippolis published a book “The Horse and The Municipality” which aims to deliver fact-based information for decision-making at municipalities (land use, zoning, construction, equine-assisted activities, youth activities etc.) One of the goals of this project is to encourage horse people to contact respective municipalities and to pass information about the industry and hobby.

One of the themes is the travel industry. Finland is an exotic and interesting, yet safe destination to spend a(n equestrian) holiday. The nature, its tranquility, spaciousness, flora and fauna, changing seasons and beautiful landscapes make Finland an interesting place to visit. Besides nature, the travellers are often interested in the local culture, history and traditions of the locals. One of many ways to experience Finland is on horseback.

The unique, native Finnish horse breed, the Finn horse, is the specialty and strength of Finnish travel industry. Now about 70% of businesses that offer horseback trail rides have one or more Finn horses in their stable (Icelandic horses are popular as well).


Sleigh rides are quite often available at the ski resorts. Photo: Pete Favelle (CC 2.0)

A developing product

According to statistics, the most common international traveller to attend the Finnish trail rides is a woman between ages 30 and 60. Most importantly she wants to experience the horse and the nature. She also appreciates quality and comfort of the trail, well-planned program and personal contact to local people – she wants to hear stories and is interested in the local history.

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Guest post: Hello from the UK



I’m in the UK and have had my lovely Finn horse “Sulokas” for five years, I don’t speak Finn but I think his name might mean sweet or cute? We call him Luke for short. Luke found me quite by accident but since that time I have come to love this strong and reliable horse. Having read about the Finn horse Luke seems quite true to the breed being strong, willing and easy to keep.

How did Luke find me? Well, I have always loved horses but didn’t own one until I was nearly 30yrs old, I bought t two lovely ponies, both British native cross bred, they served my three children and I well and stayed with us until we lost them both to old age, one in 2002, the other in 2004.

At this point the family are all grown up and left home so I thought; maybe we should have a break from keeping horses, I can honestly say that for the next five years I missed having horses everyday.

As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I told my husband that I desperately wanted horses again…he groaned!! but the search began and in June 2009 my birthday present arrived… no, not my lovely Finn horse but a beautiful Belgian draught called Major, I was so happy but then devastated to later find that Major had a very bad heart murmur, after much deliberation and advice from my vet (and my husband) I decided that the risks attached to keeping Major were too great and he was returned to the dealer, I was so upset. (But don’t worry it’s was a happy ending for Major too!)


Getting ready for a summer charity ride

I don’t know how Luke came to be in the UK, all I was told was that he had been a resident at a regional equestrian college which had closed, then sold to a lady who didn’t keep him long and was being returned to the dealer who had sold me Major. At 15.3hds and 13yrs old I decided he could be for me, the breed meant nothing to me and I didn’t think to read up about them before making a decision, most of all I wanted something safe, I tried him out, really liked him and so Luke and I began a journey into friendship.

Like all friendships it has taken time and we have had a few mishaps, I was unfit and not too confident with my riding at this time, I was surprised at Luke’s fast paces and how much ground he could cover so effortlessly, he was a bit nervous too, especially when I lost my balance a few times and fell off! I discovered his loathing for sheep, cows and pigs and didn’t have much strength to stay on when he spooked to try to avoid them! There were times when I wondered if I should keep Luke but I just knew that this horse was worth sticking with and I’m so glad I did, we have had such fun together.

“The breed meant nothing to me and I didn’t think to read up
about them before making a decision,
most of all I wanted something safe,
I tried him out, really liked him and so
Luke and I began a journey into friendship.”


Le Trec for the first time!


Le Trec for the first time!

Luke tries hard at everything I ask him to do, he was the star of the Le Trec class; when everyone thought I was being brave, I knew it was the strength and willingness of Luke giving me the confidence to take part.


Cross country at Horse Shoe Farm Norfolk

I didn’t think I would ever be able to tackle even small cross country jumps but, as you can see, Luke splashed through the water jump like a professional; this was especially brave when you consider that generally Luke does not like getting his feet wet!

Most of the time Luke and I prefer to just hack out with friends, he has gained himself a reputation for being brave and he forges ahead through hedges and over rough ground, when approaching some difficult terrain out on a hack my friends say, “Luke will go first!”.


Riding out with Lorna & Rex was such fun!

A while ago, when hacking with my friend Lorna, we stumbled on a patch of soft ground which I hadn’t noticed , poor Luke sank above his knees (all four legs) in soft sand like soil, he didn’t panic, he steadied himself and with enormous effort and strength lunged forward and out of the hole with me still in the saddle! Lorna was wide eyed and astounded that Luke had reacted so calmly and had the strength to get us both out of this muddle, testament to the strength and willingness of this wonderful breed I think.

“He has gained himself a reputation for being brave
and he forges ahead through hedges and over rough ground,
when approaching some difficult terrain out on a hack my friends say,
‘Luke will go first!’”.


Luke with baby Summer

Luke is the kindest of horses and loves to be daddy to the babies or smaller ones protecting them from the others if necessary, when he was in livery it was lovely to watch him look after the smaller more timid ones in the field, he would immediately latch on to them and was a very loyal friend to them.

I knew nothing about the Finn horse before owning Luke and have been fascinated to learn about their history and the many things they get up to in Finland (thank you Viivi for your lovely blog).

I think the Finn horse deserves to be recognised more widely, especially in the UK. In my experience most people in the UK do not know about the Finn horse, when they see Luke they comment on his large head and think he is a Suffolk Punch type (mainly because of his colour and size – see Suffolk Punch Horses)

I only know of one other Finn horse in the UK and have not met anyone else in the UK who knows about this breed, people don’t realise how strong, reliable, kind, loyal and willing the Finn horse is, I really hope I can do something to change that and would love to hear from anyone else who has or knows of a Finn horse in the UK. I am definitely now a Finn horse fan and hope I can help to make sure that others in the UK are more aware of this lovely breed so they might become fans too.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Luke!

Just before I go; Major the Belgian draft reverted out of his heart murmur and found a lovely new home, I was so pleased to get photos of him and know that he is happy.

I have not been to Finland yet but I really do hope to visit in the future.

Mandy Hunt  (UK) ,


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