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August 15, 2008 | | Comments 0

Norwegian Fjord Horses

Norwegian Fjord Horse

Tracing the Origins of the Norwegian Fjord

There are few better representatives of Norway than the Norwegian horse breed. After all, they have been in Norway for thousands of years. The strict selective breeding of these horses have ensured that they truly are among the purest of breeds.

Norwegian Fjord Horse History

It is possible that the Norwegian Fjord was not an original inhabitant of Norway. It is generally believed that the ancestors of this breed came from Asia three to four thousand years ago. It is possible that these ancestors may have been the same ancestors of Mongolian wild horses, which are now the only wild horse population in existence. It was only after a thousand or so years after their migration that the inhabitants of Norway began breeding them in a selective and careful manner. This ensured that only the fittest and strongest of the breed survived. From that time onward, the Norwegian Fjord has thrived primarily through inbreeding alone.

At first, these horses served as warhorses. Despite their small sizes, they proved hardy and strong enough to carry adult warriors. Being a versatile breed, they were later discovered to be perfect for farm work. Aside from being strong horses, they were also sure footed enough to ensure safe and fast work on snowy hills. The Norwegian Fjord may have found its way outside of Norway. Many modern European breeds are believed to carry some influence from the Norwegian Fjord.

After hundreds of years of selective breeding, the breed finally received recognition when a formal breeding program was established in the late 1800s. A registry for breed studs was also opened in the early 1900s. Because it is a popular and highly celebrated breed, it could reasonably be suspected that there are numerous Norwegian Fjord horses. This is not the case though. Breeding has become so selective to ensure breed purity that their numbers are regulated. Only purebred horses are shipped out of Norway. There are now Norwegian Fjord horses in other parts of Europe as well as in North America.

Norwegian Fjord Horse Characteristics

Norwegian Fjord horses are small compared to other horse breeds. Most of them do not grow any higher than 14.2 hands. Even so, they are considered horses and not ponies. Because of their long history as work animals in a difficult environment, they have solid, muscular bodies and legs. Their temperament is also a product of their environment. These horses are gentle, dependable, easy to manage and enduring.

There are two physical traits that define Norwegian Fjord horses. They have a thick mane that sticks up and they come in shades of dun. Hence, a Norwegian Fjord can red dun, white dun, gray dun, brown dun and yellow dun. People who are not experts in this horse breed may not be able to differentiate among the various dun shades. These horses have stripes on their legs.

The Norwegian Fjord Horses Today

Modern Norwegian Fjord horses are primarily used for driving, dressage and jumping. Because of their gentle natures, they are also perfect first horses for people learning to ride. Another modern function of this horse breed is as transportation for tourists.

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