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

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The Mythical Origin Of The Finnish Horse

Source: Suomenusko (native Finnish religion) Facebook page, posted 6.9.2013


Photo by Sini Merikallio

In Finland horses have assisted people in their work and in war probably since the Stone Age. The early presence of domesticated horses is evident from the fact that the word for a horse (hevonen) is known in all Baltic-Finnish languages. In addition, the words for ‘steed’ and ‘riding’ also have the similar origins in these languages.

The prehistoric horses around the Baltic Sea region belonged to the same Northern European common breed. Modern Finnhorses descend from this same breed. Horse-related objects as bridles have been found in Iron Age graves, which tells that horses were highly valued in the Iron Age society. Prominent men and women apparently had their horses buried with them.

In medieval Europe, Häme and Karelia regions for known for their horses and horsemen. Trade flourished around the Baltic Sea. In 1229 Pope Gregory IX complained in his letter that people of Vuojola (Gotland) dared to sell horses to the heathen Finns. Karelia, sometimes called Mare Karelia, provided horses for Hansa merchants who exported them to Central Europe along with other goods.

The head of the horse was made of stone, hooves out of rock and legs out of iron.

In Finnish mythology the horse has an iron origin. The first foal was said to have been forged in a smithy located in a sacred grove or inside the world mountain. The head of the horse was made of stone, hooves out of rock and legs out of iron. The back of the foal was forged from metal. As Väinämöinen rode the iron horse above the waters of primeval sea, a malicious stranger shot his horse, and the old tietäjä fell into the ocean.

Horses are also present in spells and incantations. Commonly spells were used to protect horses from hazards and to prevent them from escaping when horses were released to summer pastures. In some spells horse’s spirit is also called to banish malicious forces (kateet) or to assist the tietäjä in his work. Few spells that were used to stop wounds from bleeding call the mythical first foal (Hiiden varsa) to stop the blood flow.


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Horses in Finnish Mythology

"Kullervo departs for the wa"r by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

“Kullervo departs for the war” (1901) by Akseli Gallen-Kallela

“Finns have the power of darkness, Finns are wizards”

This was the cry of the Viking warriors who feared nothing…

nothing but the power of the Finns in their dark forests.

Finnish mythology most often sums up to Kalevala, the Finnish national saga constructed by Elias Lönnrot in the 19th century. He travelled  around gathering poems sung by storytellers and combined them in one book which later on became the national saga of Finland.

Horses were featured in the saga most often as quiet servants and tools of transportation, rarely starring in a poem. But there was a time when Lemminkäinen wanted to marry the maid of Pohjola, and Louhi, hostess of the Pohjola, ordered him to do tasks to prove his worthiness -one of these was to harness the fierce horse of Hiisi.

Horse of Hisi by Zaronen on Deviantart

Horse of Hiisi by Zaronen on Deviantart

Then the hero went a victor
To the dwellings of Pohyola,
And addressed these words to Louhi:
“I have caught the moose of Hisi,
In the Metsola-dominions,
Give, O hostess, give thy daughter,
Give to me thy fairest virgin,
Bride of mine to be hereafter.”
Louhi, hostess of the Northland,
Gave this answer to the suitor:
“I will give to thee my daughter,
For thy wife my fairest maiden,
When for me thou’lt put a bridle
On the flaming horse of Hisi,
Rapid messenger of Lempo,
On the Hisi-plains and pastures.”Source

You can read the entire Kalevala in English here. More about ancient Finnish mythology prior to Christianisation on Wikipedia and