Suomenponin yli ei saa katsoa! (by Ilmari Ojala on Suoralla magazine 4/1993, free & shorten translation)
Twenty-two years have passed since the finnhorse’s studbook was renewed. Back then it was more than necessary. Breeding statistics had gone down the whole 1960s and horse breeders needed exceptional faith, great independence and strong character to continue their work as people around them kept constantly judging their actions. People who bred finnhorses, believed especially in trotter finnhorses. It’s thanks to them and their work with trotters that finnhorses even exist today. Official parties couldn’t keep up with the times, though a trotter studbook had been highly demanded, mostly by southern ostrobothnians, already in the 1940s. The first inspections were held at first by private people, but they were shortly stopped and foal shows came to replace them. As the trotter horse studbook (J) replaced the allrounder studbook in 1965, the decision was right but late.
It was natural to renew the studbook as the government handed over the care of the horse registries and studbook to the private horse associations that joined as one to take care of the national registries and studbooks. Big steps were taken, even too big. The renewal had its pros and cons. The best thing was, first of all, dividing the studbook in four sections (trotter, work horse, pony-sized horse and riding horse). Confessing the studbook of the pony-sized finnhorse was a brave and unprejudiced decision. In the big scale all these efforts were made to preserve the finnhorse, which had to include also the riding horses and the small ones too.
Breeding pony-sized horses didn’t have any roots in Finland. The breeding lead aimed for a multi-purpose working horse, whose most important feature was to have a good pulling ability. It was common to believe that a big massive horse had it easier to detach the sleigh than a smaller one. Small horses simply did not get as good points in the shows than the bigger ones, no matter how well-structured they were. This was the lead’s attitude until the 1950s.
It’s unfortunate that there wasn’t any specified need for smaller finnhorses at the time when there were horses to choose from. Pony-sized stallions did not make it to the studbook, government had taken care of that. The term “finnpony” can be argumented, but I use it to prove a point that a pony-sized finnhorse works just as well as any other pony breed.
The breeding brought “finnpony” to some point in 20 years, but it could have got even further if the inspections rules just had been different. These ponies had to do all the same tests as R-horses. These conditions chased many interested pony-sized finnhorse breeders away. Nowadays there are not too many finnponies, enough to make the future brighter for them, but there could be a wider branch of pedigrees to choose from.
The traditional finnhorse looks is changing. That is a shame, a finnhorse doesn’t have to look like a new forest pony. A finnpony should be still capable of, for example, work driving. There are good examples that even a small finnpony can preserve its charasteristic Finnish looks. Sometimes even good-looking horses have not been approved for studbook because their pedigree hasn’t showed enough small horses (so that the P-stud would be more likely to produce pony-sized offspring). Is that really necessary? It has to start somewhere.