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Norway’s distinctive and adaptable draught horse


  • With its golden creamy color and spiky two-tone mane, the distinctive Fjord horse is a novel and historical breed. It combines echoes of untamed and primitive horses with a pleasant, keen temperament that has proved common to be used in equine remedy, driving colleges and basic all-rounders for driving and driving.

    On this article: Potted historical past | Conformation | Makes use of | Future



    Potted historical past

    One of many world’s oldest and purest breeds, herds of untamed Fjord horses existed in Norway after the Ice Age. In line with archaeological findings, the Fjord horse has been selectively bred for the previous 2,000 years, and domesticated for the previous 4 millennia. The trendy Fjord originates from the fjord areas within the west of Norway, the place its hardy and surefooted attributes are nicely tailored to getting across the harsh and rugged terrain on this space characterised by steep mountains and fjords.

    Though the Fjord shares many similarities with the Przewalski horse – similar to primitive markings and color – the Fjord’s genetic materials exhibits they don’t seem to be carefully associated. Nevertheless, the Fjord could share some heritage with the now-extinct Tarpan. It’s more likely to have some affect from Icelandic and British breeds as there was contact between the seafaring nations of Norway, Iceland and Britain in that period.

    Round 1840, the breeding of Fjord horses was formalised, with a stud established within the Dovre Mountains (Dovrefjell) in central Norway at an altitude of 1,000m. At the moment, the Fjord horse was used on farms, for forestry work, harvesting, as a pack horse and pulling a cart.

    Till 1947, the breed was referred to as the Vestlandhest – the west nation horse, as this has been the breeding centre for the Fjord. This sure-footed, hardy and charming breed is taken into account a part of Norway’s nationwide heritage and a few regard the Fjord as a Norwegian nationwide image.

    Fjord mare and foal, displaying the distinctive mane colouring

    Appears to be like and conformation

    In line with the studbook, the breed’s sort and character are paramount.

    Peak: there isn’t a most or minimal however the desired peak is between 135cm and 150cm (13.1hh to 14.3hh).

    Color: the overwhelming majority (90%) of Fjords are brown dun (various from creamy yellow to just about brown). The remaining 10% are additionally dun, however pink, uls (white) or yellow. To be the color dun means they’ve a base coat of any color, with a dun dilution gene. The bottom coat determines what variation of dun they’re.

    In step with their dun color, they carry primitive markings, together with zebra stripes on the legs and a dorsal stripe working from the forelock all the way in which down the neck, again to the tail. Darker stripes may additionally be seen on the withers.

    Mane: that is attribute of the breed, with the centre hair being black or darkish, whereas the outer hair is white. The mane is historically lower to be upstanding, with a convex kind following the topline of the horse. It’s thought that this upstanding mane goes again to the time of the Vikings, to present the impression of a taller, stronger horse in battle.

    Head: that is the primary function as regards sort and character. It ought to be small and well-defined with a broad, flat brow. The bridge of the nostril ought to be brief, and ideally concave.  The nostrils ought to be giant and open, with a sq. muzzle. The decrease jaw and cheekbone ought to be sturdy with out being heavy. The ears ought to be small, huge aside and pointed. Eyes ought to be giant, darkish and pleasant.

    Physique: the general impression ought to be sturdy and well-muscled. The neck ought to have a convex topline and be muscular. Initially, because the breed was primarily a working horse, the neck was brief and heavy, and the shoulder straight, however these days the desire is for a barely longer neck and extra sloping shoulder.

    Within the nineteenth century, when the breed was being formalised, the everyday Fjord was described as having “a head like a brisling [a Norwegian sprat], neck like a spinning wheel, physique like a turnip and limbs like metal springs”. This will not shed a lot mild on its look, nonetheless the breed has since developed as instances have modified and a extra athletic construct is most popular.

    Fjords are as adept at pulling a carriage as they’re carrying a rider

    Makes use of

    The Fjord was initially valued for its power and surefooted capabilities as a piece animal – in forestry, pulling carts, and as a pack horse – so ideally suited to the small, hilly farms of Norway.  Within the early days, breeders tried to supply a heavier draught animal for the agricultural calls for, nonetheless since equipment has changed the horse, a extra athletic construct is now most popular. The goal is to breed a supple horse with a very good temperament for each driving and driving, which is at at house within the manège as on the mountain.

    Fjords are common in driving colleges and are additionally fairly able to contesting grassroots competitions. They are often an excellent horse for newcomers to be taught to experience on, being sometimes calm in temperament, sturdy, sturdy and mild. They’re typically utilized in programmes for disabled riders and in equine remedy as a result of their simple going nature.

    Fjord horse

    A Fjord horse competing in a grassroots cross-country competitors

    Way forward for the Fjord horse

    The Fjord is now an endangered breed in Norway as there are inadequate numbers of foals being born there every year. There are round 5,000 Fjords registered in its native nation. Nevertheless, there are bigger populations of this likeable breed in different nations, similar to Denmark, German and the US.

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