The fjord horse, also called the Norwegian fjord horse, has a special appearance. This compact, sturdy and gentle horse may be small but is strong enough to carry adults. The Fjord horse is excellent for disciplines such as dressage and driving. If you are looking for a horse that likes to go to work and does not spook easily, you will find it in this unique breed.
Fjord history and origin
The Fjord horse has a history dating back thousands of years, making it one of the oldest horse breeds still in existence. It is possibly related to the Przewalski horse, a primitive wild horse that once roamed Asia. More than 4,000 years ago, the first ancestors of the fjord horse were domesticated in Norway. These horses served on Norwegian farms for millennia, and the Vikings even rode them in warfare.
Although the Fjord Horse has been around for thousands of years, it has been selectively and carefully bred to be a largely pure breed, with little influence from other horse breeds. The breed is still highly valued in Norway for its historical importance and its many contributions to Norwegian life.
Fjords are small and compact. They are usually between 13.2 and 14.2 hands tall, although the breed standard does not have a height limit. These horses generally weigh between 880 and 1,030 pounds. Although small, they are strong and can easily carry adults.
Breeding and use
Fjords are carefully bred to maintain the integrity of the breed and are used for both riding and driving. They are also sometimes used for lower-level dressage and cross-country tests and competitions. The breed has good endurance and is an excellent riding horse. Due to its patient nature and calm demeanor, this breed is a very popular riding horse for riding lessons and therapeutic riding lessons.
Colors and markings
The Fjord has a very characteristic appearance; all horses of this breed have a gray-brown coloration. Fjord horses have striking dorsal and horizontal stripes on the back of the front legs. Their mane and tail are darker black and brown colors; the center of a Fjord’s mane is black and stands out against the lighter outer hairs. Fjords’ manes are cut short so that they stand upright. Many Fjords also have lighter hair on the muzzle and belly.
All fjords are gray-brown, with five different shades: Brown fjord, red fjord, gray fjord, white fjord, and yellow fjord. Therefore, their coat can vary from light brown to cream to gray and reddish-brown shades.
Unique characteristics of fjords
Fjords are known for their good temperament. They are friendly, cooperative, and willing to work. Fjords are usually well-behaved and fun to work with. Many of these horses are ideal mounts for children and beginning riders, but they are also popular for advanced riders looking for a reliable and cooperative horse. Many fjords are considered nearly bombproof due to their calm demeanor.
Diet and nutrition
Most fjords are easy to maintain and require very little hay and grain. Many fjords do well on high-quality hay and a vitamin and mineral supplement and do not need grain at all. Some fjords can become overweight if they have access to grass. These horses should be kept in a dry place or should be muzzled when in the pasture. Every horse is different, but in the case of the Fjord breed, a little feed is usually enough to carry them away.
Common health and behavioral problems
Fjord horses are generally healthy and hardy. However, because they are so easy to care for, they can have some health problems.
- Laminitis: This painful hoof disease can lead to twisting of the horse’s coffin bone. Overweight and overfed fjords are at a higher risk for this disease.
- Colic: This extremely painful digestive problem can be life-threatening and may require emergency surgery. Fjords are not naturally prone to colic, but overweight and overfed horses are more likely to develop it.
Fjords have relatively normal grooming needs. Their winter coat can be very dense, so frequent grooming and clippers can contribute to shedding in the spring. Fjord manes should be trimmed regularly to keep them erect, which is typical of the breed. These horses also benefit from regular grooming and hoof care.
- Pleasant and relaxed character
- Suitable for beginners and advanced riders
- Robust conformation
- Easy to store
- Needs a careful diet to prevent weight gain
- Not as versatile as other breeds
- Somewhat uncommon, so buying a horse may take some time
- Championship and celebrity fjord horses
Many Fjord horses have won dressage, driving, and other championships. Because this breed is so old, there is no known sire stallion. Instead, countless Fjords from all over the world are successful in their profession today.
Is the Fjord right for you?
The Fjord is a good choice for many riders, whether by bike or car. His almost unbreakable temperament and easy-going nature make him an excellent horse that inspires confidence in young riders or beginners, but the Fjord is also very easy to train and a good choice for experienced riders. Although it is the horse of choice for dressage riders and drivers, the Fjord is very versatile, so this horse could be your next show partner, riding horse, and much more.
The Fjord’s small size is desirable and advantageous in many cases. If you have difficulty riding larger horses or are looking for a horse that you can easily remount on the trail, the Fjord could be the perfect solution for your needs.
How to adopt or buy a Fjord
If you want to buy a Fjord, be prepared to pay about $10,000 for a well-trained horse in its prime. These horses are less common than other popular breeds, so you may have to travel to find the right Fjord for you. Find a reputable breeder and take a talented trainer with you to help you evaluate the horses.
Because of the value of this breed, it is quite unlikely to find a Fjord that is available for adoption from a shelter. If you are not in a hurry to buy a new horse, you may get lucky and find shelter.
Whether you are buying or adopting a Fjord horse, it is always a good idea to invest in a pre-purchase exam. This exam can reveal health and physical problems that could limit the horse’s athletic abilities in the future.