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Big Book of Breeds
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[ INDEX ] Equine Type: Horse Breed: Finnhorse (Finn)   [ PREV ] [ NEXT ]
The Finnhorse (also known as Finnish Universal) is a light-draft horse breed, and is the only native Finnish equine breed still in existence.

Horses had roamed Finland since the Bronze Age, but the story of the Finnhorse begins in the 12th century, when merchants from Gotland sold horses to Finnish farmers, who, in their turn, started to breed them with their own native horse stock. From the 12th century until the early 20th century, horses of various breeds, some of which are of unknown identity, were crossed with Finnish horses to make them taller. From a horse that used to stand around 10.3hh, the Finnhorse became as tall as 16.1hh.

Originally, Finnhorses were used for heavy work such as farming and logging, as well as for lighter work, such as pulling carriages. In the 19th century, Percheron and Ardennes horses were crossed with Finnhorses in order to turn the Finnhorses into heavier horses with longer legs, better strength, and improved stamina. This type of Finnhorse still exists today, and is known as a "Work Finnhorse" (denoted with a 'T' in the Finnhorse studbook).

In addition, during the 19th century, public trotting races started to take place in Finland. In order to make the Finnhorses more popular, some breeders decided to cross their Finnhorses with Norfolk Trotters in order to turn the Finnhorse into a better trotter. These Finnhorses became lighter, faster, and more athletic, but still had enough strength to work on the farm as well. This type of Finnhorse, which excels in trotting-races, still exists today, and is known as a "Trotter Finnhorse" (denoted with a 'J' in the studbook), and is considered to be one of the fastest light-draft horse breeds.

In 1907, the Finnhorse studbook was officially founded, and the breed was declared to be a pure breed, meaning that crossbreeding was no longer allowed. Using careful breeding of Finnhorses, a new type of Finnhorse was created: the "Riding Finnhorse" (denoted with an 'R' in the studbook). Riding Finnhorses are more agile than Work Finnhorses and Trotter Finnhorses, and perform fairly well in dressage and show-jumping. Furthermore, there is a fourth type of Finnhorse, called the "Pony-Sized Finnhorse" (denoted with a 'P'), which is any Finnhorse that is shorter than 14.2hh.

For years, Finnhorses were bred to have a chestnut or flaxen-chestnut coat, which is why most Finnhorses today are chestnut. Nevertheless, the colors bay, brown, black, gray, palomino, buckskin, roan, and silver also occur. In addition, in Horse Isle, Finnhorses can also be in double-cream (CC) dilutes. The coat is usually solid with white markings on the legs and face. However, in some cases, Finnhorses can also have sabino patterning on their legs, face, and abdomen, and, in rare cases, can also exhibit maximum sabino. Most Finnhorses stand between 14.3 and 15.2 hands, but shorter and taller individuals can also be frequently found. The full height range of this breed is 12.3hh to 17hh.


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