Free translation of the article published on Johanna’s finnhorse site.
The links will take you to Sukuposti horse database or Wikipedia.
The eldest pedigree information about Finnish trotter horses can be found in Ludvig Fabritius‘s statistics or Ravisport calendars, beginning in the 1860s. There was not much information available, since it was common at that time to have horses bred on large group paddocks. The studbook was found in 1907, when systematic breeding of the finnhorse was started and clearly foreign-looking horses were cut out of it according to their phenotype. To be accepted to the studbook the horse had to have some pedigree information. These days the pedigrees can be tracked down until the early 20th century.
Only a very few original pedigrees have stayed alive until today. The strongest have been the best trotter producing lines, since the need for working horses decreased and the breeding went with it.
These day’s trotters represent mostly four sire lines: Suikku, Vokker, Vieteri and Hilu. After them come Ero-Lohko, Luonnos and Erilo. The pedigrees are narrowing down, since Suikku’s and Vokker’s progeny are the most popular trotters on the market. Suikku has brought early talent to the breed. The sire statistics are strongly Suikku’s show, since his sons Turo and Hovi-Ari have also been quite impressive on stud and their progeny sells -a hard fact.
Vokker’s progeny are not as early as Suikku’s, but altogether talented, fine trotters. Hilu’s sire line has it’s stars, for example Kihin Hiski and Saran Salama, a four-time trotting king. Vieteri ruled the statistics for a long time, with strong and often hard-tempered race horses, but today’s situation seems to be a mystery. There are not too many potential studs from Vieteri’s line.
Trotter breeders are in a tough situation. Only few studs are commercial enough to sell the foals. The pedigrees are narrowing but on the other end is the fact that only a few sires sell. Horses’ prices are still quite low.
Still it’s a pitty to realize that some,even quite good studs may be left aside since they can’t get enough progeny to prove their ability.
First of all – every single foal is important for a small breed like this, no matter what pedigree it has. Every breeder is doing an important job.
Many great studs have had a rare pedigree at their time. For example Vieteri was produced by an extremely thin line, and it would not be a wonder if the line had ended already a couple of generations before Vieteri. Vokker on the other hand had a remarkably uncommon pedigree -he did not have Eri-Aaroni on his pedigree, not once! He was probably the last one. Perhaps the history will repeat itself and during the next few years there will be once again a sire line of not-so-common horses, though it will be a tough job to break through, since the mares are also mostly common-pedigreed these days.
Then again, WHY is it so important to save different lines? Of course it’s a definition question, what is common or uncommon. Usually it’s described not to have any of the four major sires (Suikku, Hilu, Vokker, Vieteri) in horse’s first three generations back. Preserving different pedigrees makes the gene base wider. At this time the inbreeding percent is not remarkably high, but if the pedigrees keep fading and narrowing as they have been now, it’s going to be a tough job for the future breeders to find fitting pedigrees.
Uncommon is not a synonym for poor. For example Ruutu-Poika‘s progeny is these days quite uncommon (since the stallion deceased early). He had both great ability and good pedigree.
Also it should not be ordinary Pete’s job to preserve the pedigrees, but nowadays any official quarter is not doing it. Hopefully future will bring some change, at least the renewing obligation for J-studs has been removed.
Riding horses and pony-sized finnhorses pedigrees
The R-studbook was opened already in 1973 but it has been a 30-year project to create actual R-lines, since breeding finnhorses for riding purposes has got wind under its wings in all of Finland, not just Ypäjä Equine College. Still the only clearly remaining R-line is Kelmi‘s line. This line’s representative Herra Herman is already the fourth generation R- or P-studbooked stallion. Pilven Poika has also been quite popular for the last years, so it’s probable that he too will have his own sire line some day. Riding horse breeding section gets still “new blood” from trotter horses. The J-studs V.T. Ajatus and Vekseli have excelled in riding horse pedigrees too.
Even the pony-sized finnhorses are making good progress in creating their own lines. Earlier years e.g. Jessimo, Jeppana and Lappi-Muisto have had a great impact. A.T. Unikki is already a third generation P-stud.
Work horse pedigrees
..are practically vanished. Genuine work horses are very few. One of the few, if not the only one, is a T-stud called Taika-Laakeri, whose sire line goes without cuts all the way to the Sopusointu 207.