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THE FINNHORSE 

– speed, power and feeling

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The Finnhorse originates from the Northern European domestic horses. The Finnhorse is the only native horse breed in Finland. There are about 20 000 Finnhorses, which amounts to 25 per cent of the total amount of horses in Finland. The Finnhorse and the Finnish people share a common history – the horse has worked with credit in the wars and also been a great help to the farmers in their work both in the fields and the forests. The Finnhorse plays both  today and in the future a part in the equestrian sports, it has a role in entrepreneurship and it’s a suitable hobby horse for children, young people as well as adults.

The Finnhorse has been bred as a pure breed since 1907 when the studbook for Finnhorses was founded. The Finnhorse is the national horse breed of Finland.

According to the breed standard the Finnhorse is a 156 cm high, versatile all-round horse. It has many colours, but the main colours are chestnut, bay and black. The Finnhorse has often white markings on the face and the legs. It has elastic movements, good self-carriage and it’s of a fairly solid build. It has a reliable and obedient temperament; it is energetic and always tries to do its best.

There are four breeding sections: trotter, riding horse, working horse and small pony-sized horses.

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The trotter

The Finnhorse is an inseparable part of the Finnish trotting sport. The majority of the Finnhorses are bred for the trotting sport. The Finnhorses bring individual colour to the trotting sport and often become the favourites of the spectators. 

The best Finnhorse trotters take part in the Finnhorse trotting championship, called “Kuninkuusravit” in Finnish (“The Royal Race”), and the winners become the Trotting King and Trotting Queen.  The Finnhorse Trotting Championship is the biggest event of the trotting season in Finland attracting 50 000 spectators during one weekend.

The riding horse

The Finnhorse is well suited as a hobby or competition horse for the different disciplines of equestrian sports, it is also a perfect companion for riding therapy and animal assisted therapy. A well schooled Finnhorse is a modern sport horse. There are numerous Finnhorses in riding schools and tourist stables all around Finland. 

The Finnhorse is an excellent horse for riding schools. It is big enough for adult riders. Thanks to its steady temperament and movements it can also be ridden by younger riders.  The small pony-sized Finnhorses which are under 148 cm are very well suited for younger riders.

The Finnhorse is also well suited for dressage and showjumping, carriage driving, endurance, eventing, riding therapy and animal assisted therapy, as well as for horse tourism, for example, for recreational use and for trail riding.

The main event for Finnhorses used as riding horses is the annual event “Suomenratsujen kuninkaalliset” (The royal Finnhorses) at Ypäjä. The best Finnhorse riding horses compete in showjumping, dressage and carriage driving at the event.

The working horse

The working horse is much sought after thanks to its good temperament and functionality. The Finnhorse is one of the strongest draught horses in the world considering its size. Nowadays the working horses are used, for example, in tending sapling stands and parks. Thanks to its steady temperament the working horse has an increasing number of possibilities in equestrian tourism and experience seeking tourism. 

In earlier times the working horse was an irreplaceable help for farmers in their work in the fields and the forests. The number of horses was highest in the 1950’s before the countryside was mechanized. At that time there were over 400 000 horses in Finland. When tractors, cars and other machines became more common the popularity of the working horse decreased.

The pony-sized Finnhorse

The pony-sized Finnhorse is a charming small horse not higher than 148 cm. Although the small size it’s still a genuine Finnhorse, not a pony. The pony-sized Finnhorse is well suited as a trotter, riding horse and working horse. Calm pony-sized individuals are good hobby horses for the whole family.


 

History

A living national treasure

On this we present important events during the hundred year long history of the Finnhorse.

2007 
The Finnhorse – the national horse
The 100th anniversary of the Finnhorse as a pure breed. The number of Finnhorses in Finland is 19 500. The Finnhorse is declared the national horse of Finland.

2006
The Finnhorse Trotting Championships, “Kuninkuusravit” in Finnish (“The royal race”), become even more popular. The Finnhorse Trotting Championships in Forssa attract almost 60 000 spectators.

2000 
The stallion Viesker wins the title of Trotting King and the Nordic Championship for cold-blood horses for the fifth time in a row.

The event “Suomenratsujen kuninkaalliset” (The royal Finnhorses) is arranged for the first time in Ypäjä. The Finnhorse becomes more popular as a riding and hobby horse.

1995
The European Union defines the Finnhorse as an original breed.

1987
The number and breeding of Finnhorses is at an all time low. The number of Finnhorses is lower than ever during the known history of the breed, there are only 14 000 horses.

1984
The Ministry of Agriculture defines the Finnhorse as an original breed.

1973
The central organizations for horse breeding and the trotting sport merge.The new National Horse Breeding and Trotting Association Suomen Hippos ry starts its work.

1971
The breeding regulations for the Finnhorse are modernized. Four breeding sections are established for the Finnhorse: working horse, trotter, riding horse and pony-sized horse. The state gives up keeping the studbook when a new decree on horse farming transfers the keeping of the horse studbook and other activities for promoting the equine industry to the Central Association of the Equine Industry.

1965
The studbook for the universal horse is closed. A studbook for trotters is founded instead.

1950
The amount of horses is at an all time high in Finland, there are 408 797 horses in the country.

1946-1956
During the time of rebuilding after the war, the Finnhorse is of irreplaceable help both within agriculture and forestry as well as in haulage duties.

1939-1945
During the war time the Finnhorse ensures the mobility of the army. The horses transport food, ammunition and other supplies, medicines and post to the battlefields. Also the wounded and casualties are transported away from the battlefields with Finnhorses.

1924 
The Finnhorses are divided into two separate types: the heavy built working horse and the lighter universal horse (military riding horse).

The first Finnhorse Trotting Championships are held in Lahti. The first Finnhorse to win the title of Trotting King is the stallion Huovi.

1919
Suomen Ravirengas, the Finnish Trotting Association, is founded as a central organization for private trotting associations.

1918
The state takes over the studbook for mares.

1909
Exact requirements for registration in the studbook are defined. The horse associations start registration of mares in the studbook. The Central Administration for Horse Associations in Finland is founded.

1907 
The development of a Finnish horse breed is the result of the awakening of a national identity.

Systematic breeding work and pure breeding of the Finnhorse is started. A decision of founding a studbook for the whole country comes into effect. The first Finnhorse to be registered in the studbook is the stallion Ukonpoika. The Agricultural Administration is in charge of keeping the stallion studbook.

References:
Mahlamäki M. 2003 Pellolta paanalle ja pussihousumiehistä patiinipoikiin. Suomen Hippos ry.
Ojala, I. 1997. Suomenhevonen Suomen puolesta 1939-45. Karisto. Hämeenlinna.
Timlin J. 2000. Suomenhevosen jalostushistoria. Opinnäytetyö. Rovaniemen ammattikorkeakoulu.


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