The Faroese horse is one of the native horse breeds discussed in the network.
Once in abundance, the Faroese ponies were down to only five individuals in the 1960’s due to the modernization of agriculture. Today, there are about 80 ponies thanks to the efforts made by the members of the association Felagið Føroysk Ross, which was also represented at the workshop.
Dorthea Joensen, employee at Búnaðarstovan, The Agricultural Agency at the Faroe Islands, attended the workshop too. She is a member of the Felagið Føroysk Ross and keeps several horses of the breed at her farm in the Faroe Islands.
“NordGen helped the Agricultural Agency of the Faroe Islands to create a conservation plan that was a great asset in our work trying to save the Faroe ponies. So, I have seen the concrete benefits that comes from Nordic cooperation and it was a matter of course for me to attend this workshop” she said.
Many of the Nordic native horse breeds are threatened. Only in Sweden we know of four horse breeds that already have gone extinct. However, there are also examples of the opposite. The Finnhorse is for example very well-known and appreciated for its versatile characteristics and is even called the Finnish Universal in English. Despite differences in the use of the horses and different size of the horse breeds, the organizations experience the same challenges regarding controlling inbreeding and marketing of the horses. Thus, an international network will be helpful in targeting work efforts. The idea is that the NordGen native horse breed network will lead to knowledge exchange, common projects, and other matters which the participants find useful.
Line Sass Kierkegaard, adviser at NordGen Farm Animals, arranged the workshop and was pleased with the outcome.
“It was wonderful to see the dedication among the participants of the network. Many of them are working on a voluntary basis to save the horse breeds. They were happy to connect with other people working for the same objective”
One concrete outcome of this start-up meeting was the production of educational material that can be distributed among and used by the breeding organizations. The material should consist of easy to understand information about inbreeding and management of populations as well as information about the different breeds and why they are important in the different regions.
“The aim is that the information also can be used in schools in the future, as educational material for children and youngsters”, Line Sass Kierkegaard says.
This was the first time the network for native horse breeds met, but they are all eager to reconnect again already in the spring. In the future, they’re aiming at continuing the network with online meetings and annual workshops.