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

Leave a comment

Tapani is the day of the horsemen

Taivaannaula is a Finnish organization dedicated to preserving and fostering the native Finnish religion and culture, Suomenusko (from times prior to christianisation in Finland). They share pieces of information on their Facebook page as well.  I find these posts very interesting and believe you might enjoy them too. :)

Many of the traditions have something to do with horses, but today is Tapaninpäivä, the day of the horsemen!


Photo by Chewel96 of Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

After the more calmer Joulu feast, Tapani (December 26) was convenient time for young people – and also older ones – for more wild merrymaking. People woke up early visited their neighbours. If there was no fire in the house’s oven upon their arrival, the guests threatened to “break the oven”. The master of the house could only persuade them to not go through with it by offering a drink for each man.

Men also went to sauna early in the morning. After that they went to stables and enjoyed a soup made of rabbit or squirrel meat together with some beer and liquor. Eating this sacrificial meal was said to make horses prosper in the coming year. However, the bones in the soup had to remain intact and kept in the stable, otherwise the horsemen’s luck with horses would suffer.

Tapani was the day for harnessing young foals for the first time and training them. When the older folk went visiting relatives, the young ones went to a sleigh ride, or Tapani’s ride. Sometimes people mounted their horses and even rode inside the house. There beer was poured on the horse’s head, back and mane. Then the horse was given some beer to drink and oats to eat. Finally, the rider also drank from the same pint and rode outside.

Girls gave ”Tapani’s thread” to the boys they liked, and the boys attached these threads to their hats. From the number of threads it could be seen who was the most popular boy among the girls. At the same time quality of the threads was compared and people could deduce who would make a skilled wife.

On Tapani’s Day groups of strangely-clad men or boys travelled from house to house. Their leader had many names like ”Tapani’s pukki” or ”the Old Joulu Man”. These creatures could wear, for instance, a fur coat turned upside down and a tar-dipped whisk as a tail. If the house treated the pukki poorly, it began to rage. Yet if the pukki was generously welcomed, it wished the house and the people the best of luck and success. The pukki sang:

”Let the cows give milk,
The sheeps carry twins,
Let the cat’s tail curl,
Dog’s tail shrivel,
and pig’s tail become knotted!”

Translation: Anssi A. / Suomenusko Facebook page

More pickings from Taivaannaula:


1 Comment

The Finnhorse – Our National Treasure book is available in English

Sponsored by Kirjakaari


Scandinavia’s most beautiful horse deserves a beautiful book. The Finnhorse – Our National Treasure is a work long anticipated by Finnhorse enthusiasts. It presents the Finnhorse as the world’s most versatile coldblood with characteristics beyond compare. Expressive text and stunning photos paint a picture of our national treasure as a multi-skilled riding, breeding, draught and race horse, and man’s most reliable friend in every season.

• Basic breed information such as breeding lines, colours and anatomy
• Development history in brief, and status as a native breed
• Uses as a riding horse, e.g., show jumping, dressage, Monté, eventing and therapeutic riding
• Uses as a draught horse, e.g., harness racing, carriage driving and logging
• Recreational uses, e.g., skijoring, equestrian vaulting, horse agility and shows
• Use for work, e.g., police horses

The Finnhorse – Our National Treasure is an unforgettable gift for friends of the Finnhorse.

Marianne Ketelimäki is a photographer and a passionate horse enthusiast.
Sanna Karppinen is a non-fiction author whose heart was stolen by horses already as a little girl.

From Kirjakaari


The horse has its place in the modern society.

Finnhorse – Our National Treasure is a beautiful book with 96 pages of big, expressive photographs by Marianne Ketelimäki and short, compact paragraphs of text by non-fiction author Sanna Karppinen.



The book includes basic information about the breed, but focuses mainly on the photography. Why describe it in words, when you have tons of beautiful photos to show the incredible versatility and beauty of the horse in the Finnish nature? It’s light to read, and won’t make you an expert on the subject, but doesn’t aim to that either. You could say, it gives you a first impression about what makes this breed so important to us Finns.


What is the Finnhorse made of? My guess, mostly “sisu”.

Most of all, I think Marianne has been able to capture the feel in her photos – how the Finnish people feel about their horse and what I feel when I’m with my horses. There’s a companionship between us that has lasted through generations, the title “national treasure” is not an exaggeration. Still, the finnhorse is not just some relic, it has been able to take up any challenge it has faced and redeemed itself again and again. Adaptation is the key!


Friend and a companion

Kirjakaari  is a Finnish publisher specialized in high-quality gift books. I could imagine this book both as a business gift as well as a gift for a horse enthusiast, especially if he/she is interested in the Finnish culture overall.

The book is available in English and Finnish at the Kirjakaari web shopRemember to use the code MNB-LXF-CH7-4P9 for a 10% discount! (the code is available until 9th of December 2015).

Leave a comment

Celebration of (Finnish) mares and women

Happy International Day of Rural Women!

The International Day of Rural Women recognizes “the critical role and contribution of rural women, including indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating rural poverty.” (UN)

To celebrate this day, here are a few photos from the Finnish Wartime Photograph Archive, maintained by the National Defence University’s Production department. See more photos at

I searched for pictures of home front in 1939-1945, when women took care of the farms during the wars – and thanks to their hard work, ad the ever-so-humble Finnhorses by their side, Finnish people were able to survive through some very tough times. :)

AND, people still need food every day, so keep on going, rural women and men everywhere! :)




Nainen haravakonetta ajamassa


Nainen haravakonetta ajamassa



Leave a comment

Happy Finnhorse day 2015

Today we celebrate the Finnhorse day, the day to honor our one and only Finnish horse breed with waving flags. The studbook for the Finnhorse was founded 6th of September 1907, so our horse has been documented for 108 years and about ten generations now. This is already the ninth official “Finnhorse day” when we raise our flags and carry a few extra carrots to the barn. ;)

Today is also the first day of “Kummihevonen” charity campaign. It’s organised by Hippolis, The National Equine Competence Association of Finland and voluntary horse owners.

The main goal of the project is to bring horses and horse people closer to the surrounding society with joy and warmth. Horses can visit daycares, schools and retirement homes, for example. There are all kinds of horses involved, but many of them are finnhorses (see them all here).

We decided to take part with Epeli. The local school is only 5 km away from our stable, so it would be quite easy to take Epeli to visit the school. The project lasts from September to December 2015.

I started a blog and an Instagram profile for Epeli, so his new friends could follow his everyday life more easily. :) You’ll find Epeli’s blog at and as @epelihuisko on Instagram. It’s only in Finnish, but hopefully foreigners enjoy the photos as well. ;)

Leave a comment

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


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.


I’ll be there – will you?

1 Comment

“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