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Finnhorse covering statistics 2017

From Lämminveristen ravihevosten astutusmäärät nousussa, suomenhevoset edellisen vuoden tasolla (Hippos.fi 3.11.2017)

Costello and Risto Tupamäki in Vermo

Costello, photo Laura Laakso/Hippos.fi photo bank

Costello was the most popular stallion in 2017 with 116 covered mares. This was his first year standing at stud.

Former “matadors” Viesker and Liising weren’t available this year. Liising died and Viesker’s owners have decided that he has earned his retirement days after about 1500 offspring. Viesker was born in 1989 and his first crop was born in 1997.

Sipori got the second place with 78 mares and Fiiling placed third with 76 mares.

Top 10 trotter (J)-stallions
1. Costello (116)
2. Sipori (78)
3. Fiiling (76)
4. Camri (62)
5. Jokivarren Kunkku (58)
6. Frans (54)
7. Tuli-Viesker (44)
8. Vaellus (37)
9. Suivikas (31)
10. Villikunkku (30)

Top 10 riding horse (R)-stallions
1. Lastun Leka (32)
2. Silvolan Hemminki (27)
3. Ponuveikko (18)
4. Hessin Leevi (17) & Jalopeno (17) & R.T. Kajaus (17)
7. Valon Veikka (15)
8. Rannan Ruhtinas (14)
9. Corleone (13)
10. Kuningas Ässä (13)

Top 10 pony-sized (P)-stallions
1. Tintin Sahrami (14)
2. Pisara Vihtori (5)
3. E.V. Jovankka (4) & Kuukson Kaipaus (4) & Sibbo (4)
6. A.T. Musta-Ritari (3) & Kuoppalan Humu (3) & Oksasnikko (3) & Pikku Verneri (3) & Tintin Timjami (3)

Top 10 Work horse (T/Ta)-stallions
1. Etupassi (10)
2. Jaaritus (8)
3. Huima Heppu (7)
4. E.V. Johtotähti (5) & Kiripassi (5) & Pikku-Laakeri (5)
7. Tuohivirsu (4)
8. Esu (3) & Huldan Veto (3) Pirttilän Figo (3)

Altogether there are 1744 reported coverings this year, so about the same as in 2016 (1766).  70 % of these mares were covered by J (trotter)-stallions. R (riding horse) section placed second with 17,7 %, P (pony-sized finnhorses) third with 3,6 % and T (work horse) section fourth with 3,3 %.

95 mares were covered by stallions that have not been inspected for studbook (5,4 %). These foals, if purebred, will be registered as Finnhorses, but they won’t be able to compete in harness racing unless both of their parents have the same owner.

Full statistics 2017 (pdf, source Hippos.fi) 

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Thesis: Selection of Finnhorse stallions for cryopreservation

From Theseus.fi

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Isäntä, photo by Hippos photo bank/Pirje Fager-Pintilä

Lately there has been a lot of talk about the extinction and preservation of the Finn horse. The breed is not yet endangered, but the researchers and breeders worry that the genetic material is narrowing (too fast). If we don’t act now, there might be problems in the future.

So far I know one Finn horse stallion whose semen has been frozen, Taikuri.

One option could be cryopreserving the genetic material. Saija Tenhunen and Tytti Salonpää from Savonia University of Applied Sciences made their thesis on the subject in 2016.

Abstract in English:

The goal of our thesis is to make a candidate list of stallions that could be chosen for cryopreservation. In our thesis we will research inbreeding coefficients, generation intervals and effective population size of Finnhorses born between 1960 and 2014. We will also research which stallions have had the biggest genetic contributions to the current population and which stallions might be the best candidates for cryopreservation by using the Optimal Contribution Selection (OCS) method. The stallion candidates should be healthy, fertile and represent the current population of Finnhorses. The genetic material in cryopreservation should reflect the genetic structure of the whole population in the best possible way.

In the data from the Finnish Trotting and Breeding Association there were 82 178 animals in total, but after processing the data there were 80 378 animals in total. The pedigree completeness index in five generations was 89.9 %. The inbreeding coefficient for the Finnhorses born in 2014 was on average 4.75 % and the generation interval was 13.56 years. The effective population size calculated for the whole population was 135.8 individuals. Stallions that had the biggest genetic contributions for the current Finnhorse population were Murto, Eri-Aaroni, Suikku, Vokker and Vieteri. We made three different stallion candidate lists: in the first list there were potential stallions born in the last generation (14 years), in the second list there were potential stallions born in the past 20 years and in the third list there were only potential studbook stallions.

We can conclude from our results that in Finnhorse breeding choices they have avoided inbreeding. From the year 1960 the average inbreeding coefficient in the Finnhorse population has increased 4 %, which can be partly explained by increased pedigree information over the years. From the effective population size, we can conclude that at the moment there is enough genetic variation in the population to survive with vitality in the short term (five generations). This breed might have problems surviving with vitality in the long term if the genetic diversity in the breed is ignored when making breeding choices. Ex-situ cryopreservation is the recommended solution for securing the vitality of the Finnhorse population in the future.

With the OCS method we got potential stallion candidates based on their pedigree information that were not in the studbook or in breeding use. However, this method does not include the major lines (trotter) in the choice. So we recommended choosing known trotter stud stallions from outside these candidate lists for cryopreservation. All Finnhorse colors were not included in the candidate lists. To secure phenotypical diversity in the breed, it would be a good option to collect semen from stallions that inherit these colors.

The stallions

Of course, the most interesting part of this thesis for the average horse breeder would be the list of stallions. Which ones they have picked, which stallion should I choose to help preserving the rarest blood lines, what can we do to help our beloved Finn horse the most?

Here you go. The links will take you to Sukuposti horse database.

List 1: Stallions under 14 years of age.

List 2: Stallions max 20 yo.

List 3: Studbook stallions


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Turku hosts the Royal races 2016

From visitturku.fi and Kuninkuusravit – in English

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The 85th Royal Race, Kuninkuusravit, takes place in the oldest city and former capital of Finland, Turku.

The Kuninkuusravit weekend is the biggest harness racing event in Finland, attracting about 50-60 000 spectators every year. This is the sixth time Turku race track organizes the races.

Turku has taken an active role in marketing the event also for international audience. I’m sure you don’t haveto be a Finn to enjoy the races. :)

Ships traffic between Turku and Stockholm on a daily basis, so it’s very easy to travel from Sweden. Turku  also has an airport and is only a few hours away from Helsinki-Vantaa airport.

Why visit?

Some say, they aren’t even interested in harness racing overall, but this weekend is a must. For some it’s the overall atmosphere, for some the festival around the event, that makes them return every year.

But I’d say for me and many like me, the main reason is that the biggest stars in this event are the Finn horses.

I can only imagine what it feels like to own, train or have bred a horse that gets to compete for the crown… I believe it’s a dream of every single Finn horse trotter breeder (including myself), the goal.

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Huisi Hemmo, Trotter king 2025?

I’ll be there, let’s meet up ;)

Read more:


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Breeding statistics for Finnhorses 2014

From Astutustilastot 2014 (Hippos.fi)

Breeding sections

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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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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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Mongolian horse is genetically closer relative to Finnhorse than other Nordic horse breeds

From Suomenhevonen polveutuu ikivanhoista hevosroduista (Maaseudun Tulevaisuus 30.8.2014)

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The studbook of the Finnhorse is only 107 years old. We have yet much to learn about the time before organised documentation. Photo by Satu Pitkänen / Rozpravka photography

A recent study shows that the Nordic coldblood horses are not genetically closest relatives to the Finnhorse. The researchers have found the same genes in Estonian, North-Russian and Mongolian horses. The results were surprising.

– Most often the closest relatives are found from closest neighboring countries,  says gene technology professor Juha Kantanen from the MTT Agrifood Research Finland.

But it seems that the closest relatives to finnhorses would be the old eastern breeds Yakutian horse from Siberia, Mongolian horse, Estonian horse and Mezen horse.

For the last few decades, we have assumed that finnhorse would origin from the north European forest horse. Researchers Juha Kantanen and his Estonian colleagues Erkki Sild, Haldja Viinalass, Sirje Värvi, Krista Roon and Knut Røed  from Norway studied the DNA of 17 horse breeds, for example the Finnhorse, the Estonian horse, Estonian draft, Tori horse, Latvian native horse, the Norwegian døle horse, Norwegian Fjord and Nordlandshest. The Estonians have used also Arabian and Ahaltek horses in their breeding programs.

There is a thesis coming up on the subject at Tartu University.


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More photos of the little one

They grow up so fast – this set of photos was taken on his birthday, 1st of June:

In these photos he is one week old, little prince charming (and his mommy who just loves to have her coat covered in that wellness-spa mud treatment all summer long…) :)