I was flipping through one of my old horse encyclopedias when I came across a picture of the Fjord pony breed. I was interested almost immediately as I haven’t seen a pony quite like this before. Their creme and black mane and tail, the dun coloration of their coat, and the dark dorsal stripe caught my interest right off the bat. Not only are these ponies unique in appearance, they also have a history unlike any horse or pony breed I have read about before. I read up on this breed and found a lot of information out that I haven’t ever learned prior to my research. Now knowing a lot on this breed, sharing my knowledge only feels right.
What Is A Norwegian Fjord?
A Fjord is a breed of pony that originated in Norway. These ponies are thought to have descended from the Przewalski’s horses and Asiatic Wild Horses. The Fjord’s unique markings including its dorsal stripe, white or light muzzle, and zebra stripes are traits thought to have been passed down from ancient horses. The Fjord is a small horse classified as a pony that only stands between 13.2 and 14.2 hands high. Their dun coloration and two-toned mane and tail are the main things that set them apart from most other breeds.
How Big Can Fjord Ponies Be?
Because they can reach up to 14.2 hands high, the Fjord is considered to be a large pony. They usually stand between 13.2 and 14.2 hands high and no higher. Because they are large ponies, they can be ridden by both children and adults.
The Fjord can weigh between 880 and 1,100 pounds making them pretty heavy for ponies. This is the average weight for some horse breeds. The reason they weigh so much is because they are heavy and stock in build.
What Colors Can Fjords Be Seen In?
The Fjord can only be dun in color. They have a dun coat, lighter-colored muzzle with black lips and nostrils. They have very dark dorsal stripes that, strangely, extend all the way down through the middle of their tail and the middle of their mane. Their manes and tails are creme-colored besides the dark stripe there from the continuation of the dorsal stripe. Sometimes dark striping is seen on their legs or shoulders. This is prominent from their ancient genetics where zebra striping was more common.
The History Of The Norwegian Fjord Pony Breed
Because this breed is so ancient, the exact origins of this breed are pretty uncertain. It is thought that this breed has inhabited parts of Scandinavia and Norway since prehistoric times and the last Ice Age. In its general appearance, it looks very similar to the Przewalski’s horse. Because of this resemblance, it is believed that this breed partially is descended from the wild Przewalski’s horses.
To improve the breed, the Celtic pony and the Tarpan were mixed into the bloodlines. Thanks to this improvement, the breed was better able to be used for driving, pulling, and riding.
This breed was a popularly used breed by the Vikings who started the cutting of their mane to expose their unique stripe. The Vikings, in order to choose a breeding stallion good for Fjord mares, would have two stallions fight to the death with the victor selected to mate with the mares.
These little horses were also popular in countries like Iceland where they were used for riding and driving. They were also used for performance and sport in Iceland on top of general uses.
The Fjord breed was originated in a mountain region making them extremely hardy and adapted to the thin air and rough mountain terrain. Because the Fjord’s ancestors were born and raised in this type of region, their hardiness has been passed down through the generations to the Fjord we known today.
Identifiable Traits That The Fjord Carries
The coat color of this breed is only ever seen as dun. The dun coloration can range from a golden tan to a bronze orange. This breed cannot be any other color besides dun. If a different colored foal is born to a Fjord mare, it must not be considered a purebred Fjord.
Mane & Tail
The mane and tail of the Fjord are one of the most identifiable traits that this breed carries. Unlike any other breed, the Fjords have a dorsal stripe that runs up through their mane and down through their tail. The mane is creme colored on the outsides, but it is black or very dark brown down through the middle of the creme hair. This goes for the tail as well. The Fjord has a creme colored tail, but there is a dark stripe running through the middle of it as a continuation of the dorsal stripe.
The neck of a Fjord is similar to that of the Haflinger breed as it is short, thick, and strong. The Fjord is known to have a larger and thick crest making their neck appear more arched.
The ears on Fjords are small, pointed, and neatly placed on their heads. The ears of this breed can help to identify them as most other breeds would have larger ears in relation to their size while the Fjord has noticeably smaller than average sized ears.
The head of a Fjord pony is small and compact. It resembles that of most pony breeds. These ponies usually have wide foreheads, small muzzles, and generally pretty small heads overall.
The legs seen on Fjords are short, strong, and hard making them really sound and healthy little horses. They usually have short cannons, short pasterns and good joints.
The Norwegian Fjord is built heavier than other pony or horse breeds making it much stronger than your average equine. They have a great conformation and build and don’t usually carry many physical defects thanks to careful breeding.
The dorsal stripe is a known marking in this breed, but sometimes striping is also seen on the legs. Typically these stripes are seen on just the legs though in some rare cases there may be stripes seen on the shoulders. This striping is an ancient marking that is still seen today because of the Fjord’s ancient bloodlines.
What Is The Fjord Pony Good At & Used For?
Sometimes these ponies are used for dressage, though not as common as other larger breeds. Fjords have great temperaments so they do great in this discipline. Dressage is all about obedience and harmony and thanks to the Fjord’s obedience and great movement and conformation, they make great little dressage prospects.
Fjords are incredible strong little horses so pulling and driving is not a problem for them. they are seen pulling plows, carts, carriages, and wagons quite frequently.
These little horses make amazing children’s riding ponies and beginner riding horses. They have great dispositions making them patient and willing to do what is asked of them. They are mainly seen being ridden in the English riding style, though some western Fjords are seen here and there.
How Long Do Fjords Live?
30 years is the average lifespan for this pony breed though some are known to live even longer if they are well taken care of and in good health.
Fun Facts On Fjords
- They are only dun
- They are an ancient breed
- Fjords were very popular among the Vikings
- They are very sure footed and sturdy due to their past living in the mountains
FAQs On This Unique Pony Breed
How much does a Fjord pony cost on average?
The average Fjord pony costs around $8,000 (USD) though some can cost up to $20,000 depending on the training, conformation, and age.
Can Fjords jump?
These ponies are incredibly versatile so they can be used for nearly anything. Some Fjords are used for jumping, but because of their heavy build, they don’t jump at high competition levels.