Faroese horses at risk of extinction

30.09.2021 - 18:25
Faroese horses at risk of extinction
Inbreeding is an increasing threat to Faroese horses
Not enough foals are being born each year, and the number is declining. Photo: The Faroese Horse Association

We need a law change which allows exports of Faroese horses so they can also breed abroad, otherwise the Faroese horse will die out.

So says Jóna Adelaide Ólavsdóttir, chairwoman of Felagið Føroysk Ross (the Faroese Horse Association).

“Regardless of how hard we try to breed our horses, inbreeding will inevitably increase because we simply have far too few foals in relation to the total horse population.”

The numbers don't add up

“The long-term outcome of this inbreeding is that our mares become infertile.”

There are currently only about 25 fertile breeding mares in the Faroes, which have given birth to 7-10 foals in the past few years.


Jóna Adelaide Ólavsdóttir is the chairwoman of the Faroese Horse Association. Photo: Felagið Føroysk Ross (ffr.fo)

“To sustain our horse population, we would need about 6,000 breeding mares,” says Ólavsdóttir.

“We currently only have 94 Faroese horses, including foals and geldings, and a total of 600 horses of different breeds in the Faroes, so it’s a bit unrealistic to think that we can ever reach a sustainable number of Faroese breeding mares.”

Exports are crucial

She sees only one long-term solution to this problem.

“We need a law regarding horse registration and an authority here in the Faroes which can approve the information in horse passports so that we can export Faroese horses abroad for breeding to increase the number of individuals,” she says.

“The situation is critical, and the solution is relatively simple. Horse breeders in Denmark and elsewhere are interested in Faroese horses, so we just need to remove this legal obstacle.”


Read the Faroese version of this article here.

Translated by prosa.fo.

More Faroese News in English.

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