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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 ;)

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Official music video for “Suomenhevonen”

Today is Johan Vilhelm Snellman‘s birthday, the day of the Finnish identity.

Enjoy the music by Huojuva Lato and photography by Kirsti Hassinen on this new, official music video of this popular song.

Lyrics in English:

Where would we be without you
you four-legged, light-maned
moist-muzzled
friend, Finnhorse

I have no other earthly possessions,
the heaven’s roof, road’s carpet
forest trees for walls
for a friend, the Finnhorse

My grandfather cleared the fields
oats soon flowered, where the plough flew, –
be kind, horse
our friend, Finnhorse

As guns blazed in the Carelian isthmus
in the frost and snow
you were more reliable than the machine
our friend Finnhorse

These villages are empty
no roads cleared and the old left behind
but yet there are some
and some horses, too

When I leave this place
this road and roadsides
this slippery ice of a wintery road
bury me by my horse

For where would we be without you
you four-legged, light-maned
moist-muzzled
friend, Finnhorse

This translation was published in the Get to Know the Finnhorse -brochure.

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Video: French professor visiting Teivo

Video by Tampereen hevosklinikka

French professor Jean-Marie Denoix visited and lectured in Finland in March 2016. During his visit he was offered an opportunity to drive a Finnish trotter called Frankker. :)

Short interview in English starts at 5:37.

 


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The Finnhorse – Our National Treasure book is available in English

Sponsored by Kirjakaari

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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.

Contents:
• 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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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).


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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 http://sa-kuva.fi.

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! :)

Photo: SA-kuva.fi

Photo: SA-kuva.fi

Photo: SA-kuva.fi

Nainen haravakonetta ajamassa

Photo: SA-kuva.fi

Nainen haravakonetta ajamassa

Photo: SA-kuva.fi

Photo: SA-kuva.fi