#TBT: ‘This Is How We Groom Horses in Finland’

Hint: It involves naked people, tree branches and boiled stones.

“This is how we groom horses in Finland,” wrote HN reader Hanna-Maija Lahtinen, a tongue-in-cheek nod to a random news story recently featured on Helsingin Sanomat, the largest Finnish broadcast service.

The show’s host travels around Finland, looking for stories about interesting people doing, uh, interesting things. And he certainly found one in Jouko Tarvainen, a trotting horse trainer whose secret weapon is an equine sauna. Click here to watch the segment; with the help of Google Translate, we’ve assembled a cliffnotes version below.

Meet Jouko Tarvainen.


When it comes to the care and conditioning of his race horses, he has some unique ways of doing things.


After a long exercise session…


…he takes his horses in a special sauna, which he had built into his barn in Saarijärvi.

Jouko’s explanation, via Google Translate:

I was still a young boy when my grandfather told me how in the 1930s horses sore from working at logging sites would be taken into saunas,”  Jouko says. “This inspired me to try to take one of our horses into the sauna in our yard, but it did not fit through the door.
When I inherited our family farm in 1984, I built a sauna at the end of the stable for horses. I take the horses to sauna, because the heat relaxes the muscles and stimulates the metabolism. I mix the water that we throw on the hot stones with essential oils, the steam cleanse the horses lungs. After the sauna you rub yet the horse before it can rest the rest.


Sounds legit, right?

But then, things start to get weird.




Go ahead, Jouko says. Laugh yourself to the bank.

Via Google Translate:

The horse of a lifetime for me is Patrikin Muisto. The previously sick stallion was able to return to competitions after saunas and massages.

I was laughed at when I founded the horse sauna in 1995. When I won the Finn horse trotting championships with Patrikin muisto in 2009, as the laughter faded.

Since then, I taken hundreds of horses to sauna and I have come to be called trotting circles ‘at Shaman of Saarijärvi.’

The best in taking horses to sauna is that when you see a horse to settle down and to enjoy the sauna bath in the same way as people.The horse does not thrash about in the sauna, but standing still and hangs his head. The horse is so good to be in the sauna, that it almost nodding off.

The sauna horse sweat glands open and after the sauna it is washed properly. The horse is clean when you can collect water running down its sides and brew a cup of coffee from that water and drink it myself.

Hey, Jouko, whatever works!

Wherever you are in the Horse Nation… Go Riding.

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