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Guest post: Hello from the UK

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Cute!

I’m in the UK and have had my lovely Finn horse “Sulokas” for five years, I don’t speak Finn but I think his name might mean sweet or cute? We call him Luke for short. Luke found me quite by accident but since that time I have come to love this strong and reliable horse. Having read about the Finn horse Luke seems quite true to the breed being strong, willing and easy to keep.

How did Luke find me? Well, I have always loved horses but didn’t own one until I was nearly 30yrs old, I bought t two lovely ponies, both British native cross bred, they served my three children and I well and stayed with us until we lost them both to old age, one in 2002, the other in 2004.

At this point the family are all grown up and left home so I thought; maybe we should have a break from keeping horses, I can honestly say that for the next five years I missed having horses everyday.

As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I told my husband that I desperately wanted horses again…he groaned!! but the search began and in June 2009 my birthday present arrived… no, not my lovely Finn horse but a beautiful Belgian draught called Major, I was so happy but then devastated to later find that Major had a very bad heart murmur, after much deliberation and advice from my vet (and my husband) I decided that the risks attached to keeping Major were too great and he was returned to the dealer, I was so upset. (But don’t worry it’s was a happy ending for Major too!)

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Getting ready for a summer charity ride

I don’t know how Luke came to be in the UK, all I was told was that he had been a resident at a regional equestrian college which had closed, then sold to a lady who didn’t keep him long and was being returned to the dealer who had sold me Major. At 15.3hds and 13yrs old I decided he could be for me, the breed meant nothing to me and I didn’t think to read up about them before making a decision, most of all I wanted something safe, I tried him out, really liked him and so Luke and I began a journey into friendship.

Like all friendships it has taken time and we have had a few mishaps, I was unfit and not too confident with my riding at this time, I was surprised at Luke’s fast paces and how much ground he could cover so effortlessly, he was a bit nervous too, especially when I lost my balance a few times and fell off! I discovered his loathing for sheep, cows and pigs and didn’t have much strength to stay on when he spooked to try to avoid them! There were times when I wondered if I should keep Luke but I just knew that this horse was worth sticking with and I’m so glad I did, we have had such fun together.

“The breed meant nothing to me and I didn’t think to read up
about them before making a decision,
most of all I wanted something safe,
I tried him out, really liked him and so
Luke and I began a journey into friendship.”

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Le Trec for the first time!

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Le Trec for the first time!

Luke tries hard at everything I ask him to do, he was the star of the Le Trec class; when everyone thought I was being brave, I knew it was the strength and willingness of Luke giving me the confidence to take part.

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Cross country at Horse Shoe Farm Norfolk

I didn’t think I would ever be able to tackle even small cross country jumps but, as you can see, Luke splashed through the water jump like a professional; this was especially brave when you consider that generally Luke does not like getting his feet wet!

Most of the time Luke and I prefer to just hack out with friends, he has gained himself a reputation for being brave and he forges ahead through hedges and over rough ground, when approaching some difficult terrain out on a hack my friends say, “Luke will go first!”.

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Riding out with Lorna & Rex was such fun!

A while ago, when hacking with my friend Lorna, we stumbled on a patch of soft ground which I hadn’t noticed , poor Luke sank above his knees (all four legs) in soft sand like soil, he didn’t panic, he steadied himself and with enormous effort and strength lunged forward and out of the hole with me still in the saddle! Lorna was wide eyed and astounded that Luke had reacted so calmly and had the strength to get us both out of this muddle, testament to the strength and willingness of this wonderful breed I think.

“He has gained himself a reputation for being brave
and he forges ahead through hedges and over rough ground,
when approaching some difficult terrain out on a hack my friends say,
‘Luke will go first!’”.

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Luke with baby Summer

Luke is the kindest of horses and loves to be daddy to the babies or smaller ones protecting them from the others if necessary, when he was in livery it was lovely to watch him look after the smaller more timid ones in the field, he would immediately latch on to them and was a very loyal friend to them.

I knew nothing about the Finn horse before owning Luke and have been fascinated to learn about their history and the many things they get up to in Finland (thank you Viivi for your lovely blog).

I think the Finn horse deserves to be recognised more widely, especially in the UK. In my experience most people in the UK do not know about the Finn horse, when they see Luke they comment on his large head and think he is a Suffolk Punch type (mainly because of his colour and size – see Suffolk Punch Horses)

I only know of one other Finn horse in the UK and have not met anyone else in the UK who knows about this breed, people don’t realise how strong, reliable, kind, loyal and willing the Finn horse is, I really hope I can do something to change that and would love to hear from anyone else who has or knows of a Finn horse in the UK. I am definitely now a Finn horse fan and hope I can help to make sure that others in the UK are more aware of this lovely breed so they might become fans too.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about Luke!

Just before I go; Major the Belgian draft reverted out of his heart murmur and found a lovely new home, I was so pleased to get photos of him and know that he is happy.

I have not been to Finland yet but I really do hope to visit in the future.

Mandy Hunt  (UK) , hunt@may6056.orangehome.co.uk

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Simppa is a rarity in the UK

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Simppa didn’t have any problems moving to another country. “Many people have noticed that he is very laid-back horse even though he is very young.” says Annukka

I met Annukka online at Haynet, the social network for equine bloggers. She told that she had moved to UK from Finland and brought her finnhorse with her. Annukka was kind enough to write a guest post and share their story with us. :)

Two years ago my family moved to UK. That family includes two horses and it was not an option to leave them behind.

Just before we found out that we are moving here I bought a Finnish Horse called Sarasteen Simeon. His nickname is Simppa and he is now five years old.

When I considered the breed I was going to buy I had couple of options but I knew I would need a cold blood. They can be outside 24/7 and they are so easy to look after. In the end I chose Finnish Horse as I have always thought we should need to support more this rare breed so that it would not disappear. My father was always telling stories how Finn Horses were helping with the farm work as he was a child. They were always very loyal, hardworking and the gentlest horses he knew.

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“He has a huge play drive, he learns very quickly and always wants to please.”

We always had horses and I have had my own Shetland pony since I was ten years old. I was so sure that even though I buy a youngster he will be my best friend for life like my Shetland. That belief vanished quite quickly. I didn’t have a clue what to do with a youngster. Luckily since the beginning I have found the best people to help and support us.

Since the beginning everyone told me that I have found a horse with whom I have the best chances to succeed. They were so right. Even though I didn’t really know how to train him and how to be a good leader for him he still was kind to me and did everything I asked from him. It has been nice to grow together and as I have gained more experience I´m like a part of our small herd now.

In UK I found classical riding teacher who was also very good at ground work. She introduced me to Parelli Natural Horsemanship. I knew about it already but never really had the time to look into it.

I didn’t go very far within the program as I felt something was missing. It’s a good program but nowadays I follow several horsemen and take from them what I think are the most useful parts and mix them together. Mostly I have been concentrating on our ground skills but I have also tried to improve my riding.

I’m going to see Monty Roberts in a few weeks. I haven’t ever seen his clinics. There is so much mixed opinions about his work that I thought it´s better to go and see it myself. I´m very excited what I will learn from him.

In Finland it seems that horsemanship knowledge is disappearing and only few people can help if you have problems with your horse. Here it is not a problem to find help but you have to be very careful to whom you turn to. It´s good to follow they work closely so that you know that you like the way they handle horses and how they teach.

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“I think that life will not be boring with Simppa. We have so much to learn from each other and life.”

I have to admit that in the beginning I really had my doubts if I had bought the right horse. I felt I didn’t connect with him and I didn’t know how to help a young horse. I didn’t even realize how nice horse I actually have. The more I learned the more he opened my eyes to look at him differently. He seems to be very dominant horse but partly because he is young and doesn´t really know enough about life. After bringing him over to UK he was a bit unconfident but he hasn’t travelled a lot and everything was new to him. I think both my horses got used to UK very quickly. At least I didn’t notice any problems. They were happily grazing on the pasture since the arrival.

I think that life will not be boring with Simppa. We have so much to learn from each other and life. But life will be a lot easier than I thought. Almost all of our problems I have created with my inexperience. I have now learned that he has a huge play drive, he learns very quickly and always wants to please. As he learns quickly he also gets easily bored and finds something else to do. I used to confuse that to naughtiness. He is not the easiest horse for me as he is young but his heart is pure gold. I haven´t earned his heart yet but I´m sure he will be the best horse I will ever have.

In our new home country our Finn Horse has got some mixed comments. Some people love him right away and his huge head gets lots of attention. That is only sign to notice that he is actually a draft horse. It’s quite difficult to say what people think of him. Some people are interested and want to know more about our breed but some look at his direction maybe once and return to their warmbloods. But that is something you’ll find also in Finland. Many people have noticed that he is very laid-back horse even though he is very young.

I believe his size, stamina, characteristics and versatility for use might be something of interest to people here. Finn Horse is after all able to pull as much as 110 percent of their own body weight and can carry even very big men on their backs even though they are quite small horses.

I don’t know yet what we are going to do in future. If it’s dressage, TREC or if we are just one of the happy hackers I once participated onto clinic where one of the instructors told us who were there with young horses “Don’t give them their last names yet.” And he was right. We will figure it out, we have time.

Annukka