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


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Christmas is every year, but Kuninkuusravit only once a year!

Suivikas2_kuvahippos_ilkkanisula

Suivikas leads the Trotter King ranking at the moment. Photo by Hippos/Ilkka Nisula

Only 45 days left, my friends. :)

This year the biggest harness racing event in Finland, the Kuninkuusravit, will take place at Joensuu, in Eastern Finland on 1st and 2nd of August, 2015. We still don’t know the 12 stallions and 12 mares that will get to race for the crowns, but the rankings will keep the speculations going until the signing day.

(I’m cheering for Vieskerin Valo and Camri, because of reason 1 and reason 2 ;))

See more videos at Joensuu Race Track’s Youtube Channel

I have come across a few different translations for the name of this event. Should “Kuninkuusravit” be translated as the Coronation Trot, the Royal Race(s), the finnhorse Trotting Championships or something else? All of these seem to fit to the definition – it’s an annual horse racing event where the best trotters of this breed compete for the titles of King and Queen (kuningas = king in Finnish, kuninkuus = royalty).

Please let me know your thoughts – I have struggled with this translation for a while now! Or should we just call it “Kuninkuusravit”? ;)


Another ad for this year’s event.

Kuninkuusravit – The Royal Race

The Royal Race, an annual competition for Finnhorse, is held this year in Joensuu, the heart of North Karelia. It is the greatest harness racing event in Finland, and gathers approximately 60 000 spectators every year. It has been held three times before in Joensuu. This year the Royal Race is raced for the 84th time.

The competitors – 12 stallions and 12 mares – participate for three partial races. On Saturday, the first competition day, the horses race 2100 meters. On Sunday, the second competition day, the first race’s length is one mile (1609 meters) and the second race, the most demanding of all, is 3100 meters.

The Royal Race has been said to be one of the hardest competitions in harness racing worldwide, as the horses must race three times in two days. The winners of overall competitions will be crowned as the Trotting King and the Trotting Queen, and winning these titles is highly appreciated.

History of the Royal Races in Joensuu

The first Royal Races were held already in 1924. The Royal Races in Joensuu have quite a remarkable meaning in the history of this amazing event: in the 1948 competition the King and Queen were both selected, as until that the stallions and mares were competing together.

Year 1984 is remembered for one man and his talent: Pentti Savolainen was the breeder, owner, trainer and driver of both the King Vekseli and the Queen Vekkuliina. This is considered to be an unbreakable record.

At the latest Royal Races, year 2000, Viesker (which many consider to be “the greatest racing Finnhorse in history”) was crowned as the King – for the fifth time in a row! Only two other stallions – Vieteri and Vekseli – have succeeded five times, but not consecutively.

Unforgettable weekend – every year

Although the Finnhorse is the main attraction, there are many more great events during the weekend. Finnish Championship of Monté, a French-originating sport where the trotters are actually ridden, not driven, is exciting and speedy race.

While most of the drivers are men, most of the riders are women: one would be amazed of their strength. Many more races with top-class horses fill the air with excitement and the thrill of betting. The evening party has well-known artists and it serves as an annual get-together for those, who dedicate their life to the world of horse sports.

From http://kuninkuusravit.fi/en-gb

I’ll be there – will you?


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“Vappu harnesses the foals in front of the swinging summer”

“Vappu varsat valjastaa kesän keikkuvan etehen”

Another interesting piece of information about the old Finnish traditions. I guess it’s not very surprising that Vappu has been one of the most common names of finnhorses. ;)

On Vappu, or Valpuri (May 1), the “little summer” is beginning and will last until mid-summer. Sowing could begin. There were only eight weeks to Juhannus, during which all the work on the spring fields had to be done.

In southern Finland Vappu was another day for letting the cattle out of the winter shelter in addition to Jyrki. The customs of the day ensured cattle would be safe, prosperous and give a lot of milk. Cattle luck was strengthened, among other things, by walking around the forest pasture while carrying protective objects and gently wiping the cows with a whisk made from the new fertile spring branches. In the morning shepherds played their alder and goat horns and gave cows their bells.

Horses were allowed to swim in the stream on Vappu, so that flies would not bother them in the summer. People also gained health and vitality by bathing in the icy water of creeks and rivers. It was said that “Vappu comes with a whisk under its arm” and at least in the Karelian Isthmus, where the spring arrives early, people could actually bath with new whisks on Vappu.

In Satakunta people used to ring the cowbells and shout: “Vappu come, Vappu come, come to the barn!” so that cattle would come home from the forest in the summer. In South Ostrobothnia women attached bells to their skirts and dressed up in bizarre clothes. Then they run across the village ringing the bells. Other villagers tried to stay hidden and surprise the runners by pouring water on them. This game was said to ensure there would be plenty of milk in the summer.

There were also other playful traditions associated with Vappu. On some regions people tried to pull pranks on each other. One person might be asked to bring some non-existing thing, such as “tail-pulling-wood”, from the neighbour. If the neighbour was in on the joke, he would tell the unsuspecting person to go and ask from the next house.

It was said that “the cuckoo sings on Vappu, at least in its nest inside the pine tree or in a uuttu”. Uuttu or uu was a birdhouse placed on a tree near the lake shore. Every house had its own uuttu. The nests were cleaned for the spring so they would be ready when the “uuttu birds”, such as goldeneyes and mergansers, migrated back from the south. When the birds begin their laying period, people took few eggs for food from the nest, but not all of them.

Anssi A. / Suomenusko Facebook page


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Video: An Adventure

Recently I have had the pleasure to share quite a few good videos – and more and more often with English subtitles! Here’s another one – enjoy!

An adventure from Ella Kiviniemi on Vimeo.

Quite an extraordinary couple wanders around the streets of Turku, Finland. This is a story about the impossible coming true.


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Breeding statistics for Finnhorses 2014

From Astutustilastot 2014 (Hippos.fi)

Breeding sections

jalostussuunnat2014

Source: Hippos.fi

This graph shows how popular the four breeding sections were in 2014, based on the breeding section of the stallion.

Altogether 1505 Finnhorse mares were covered in 2014. The most popular section was the trotter (J) section with 1137 mares, (75,5%), then riding horse (R) with 233 mares, which is 15,5% of all mares, work horses (T) got 40 (2,7%) and pony-sized finnhorse stallions (P) got 49 mares, which is 3,3% of all.

Altogether 46 mares (3,1%) were taken to a stallion that hasn’t been shown and/or accepted to the studbook. These stallions represent a variety of breeding sections, but most often the owner either wants to use this stallion for his/her own mare(s), or has no interest in harness racing. These foals are registered as finnhorses, but unless the same owner owns both, the mare and the stallion, the foal doesn’t get to race in trotting races. Riding competitions, however, welcome everyone.

Most popular studs in 2014

1. Liising (150 mares (maximum))
2. Viesker (95)
3. Camri (75)
4. Frans (70)
5. Vixen (56)

See the list of full statistics here (altogether 188 stallions).


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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 (Hippos.fi 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 (www.slu.se). 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.

More to read


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Finnish Team for Vincennes 2015

From Pariisin kylmäveriottelun suomenhevososallistujat valittu (Hippos.fi 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 Hippos.fi)

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

The Swedish Coldblood Team for Vincennes 2015

(from Travnet.se)

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

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

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