The Norwegian Fjord Horse
The Norwegian Fjord is one of the world’s oldest and purest breed of horses. Hundreds of herds of wild Fjords existed in Norway after the last ice age, where they migrated and were domesticated more than 4,000 years ago. At Viking burial sites, archaeological excavations indicate that the Fjord has been selectively bred for at least 2,000 years. Having lived in a small, isolated region for so long, the Norwegian Fjord is a relatively unknown breed to most people in the world.
The Fjord is a multi-purpose horse that is extremely versatile and can function well in a variety of working situations including: farming/draft work; packing; driving light carriages; riding for pleasure; performing; showing; and equine-assisted therapy.
Due to a variety of unique breed types, some Fjords will excel in one discipline over another. We believe it is important to preserve the versatility within individuals of the breed because genetic diversity is so important within an unusually small population.
The Fjord Horse is a reflection of the needs, desires, and environmental conditions which have affected the lives of rural Norwegians residing on the mountainous west coast during the past 150 years.
The Fjord’s body size, form, and movement has changed from decade-to-decade depending on its use. For example, when more people were packing food into the steep mountainous regions, a sturdy, sure-footed hearty horse was selectively being bred. Fjords have an innate sense about the mountains and make a wonderful western trail horse. Whereas, before tractors, when farming was at its height, a strong, heavy Fjord was the goal for breeders to achieve. Today, many young women are riding Fjord stallions in the dressage arena. This requires the horse to be much more sporty, with strong, athletic movement. Because their disposition is so well-suited to harness, Fjords are successfully used in carriage driving, combined driving and draft disciplines. Their docile nature makes them an excellent school horse and friend to riders and drivers with disabilities. They are intelligent, willing and possess a charming, gentle disposition. Their impressive power and heart makes them seem like a much larger horse.
The pairing of a mare and a stallion depends on the desired foal. As the Fjord evolves, highly trained Fjord Horse evaluators (judges) keep a keen eye on horse conformation, movement and temperament to assist owners and breeders in identifying both desirable and undesirable characteristics of the breed. The evaluators’ overall intention is to maintain and enhance the overall breeding program currently in existence in the United States and abroad. Currently, less than 100 total Norwegian Fjord foals were born and registered in the United States for the year 2016. This low number is daunting because, without careful and selective breeding, this breed may become endangered and/or extinct.