Breed: Norwegian Fjord horse
Temperament: placid, gentle
Lifespan: 30 years
Recommended for: families, children
Curiosity may well be assigned to cats but the Fjord horse appears to have received a good dose! The biggest problem our crew had was shooting around the horses as they investigated the camera and sound equipment. Their placid natures made them a good subject but also tough to move.
Appearance: Fjord Horses look somewhat like small Clydesdales, strong, chunky with thick necks, and standing 13-15 hands high. They are mostly dun-coloured (shades of cream to brown) with a distinctive dark stripe running along the ridge of the back and through the mane, which is clipped in an arch and looks something like a toothbrush.
Temperament: Experienced horse handlers interviewed say the Fjord horse is a smart animal which learns quickly. They are said to be good-natured, quiet, willing to please, but can be assertive.
Health: While a very new breed to Australia, in their homeland the Fjord horse is considered a hardy, working breed. They have good feet. According to Equine Surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Kannegieter, the only fault reported in the Fjord breed was a condition observed in the early 1980s known as hereditary muscle contracture (hereditary lethal arthrogryposis). This was observed in female foals, all sired by the stallion “Bingo” 1804. This stallion was quite normal in appearance but the defective foals were born with contracted legs, extra limbs and jaw defects including cleft palate and parrot mouths. It has not been a problem in recent years.
Uses: In Australia Fjords are being used for driving (ie: pulling buggies, carts etc.), Riding for the Disabled, as well as general endurance and pleasure riding. In past centuries in Europe they were the working farm horses used for ploughing, timber-getting and transport.
Grooming: Fjords need brushing each week to remove loose hairs, and the mane needs to be trimmed regularly to maintain the distinctive appearance. Shoeing depends on what the horse is being exposed to, but may be as frequent as six to eight weeks on bitumen roads.
Ideal owner: Fjords suit both the enthusiast and child. They are a little bit different, but still good-natured and an all-round performer. Children must always be supervised.
Popularity: The Fjord is a rare breed in Australia. There are about 60 horses known here today, although there have been occasional imports since the 1920s.
History: The ancient coat patterning of the Fjord Horse is said to indicate it’s a very old breed. Certainly known and used for centuries in Scandinavian countries, it’s also suggested they were used by Vikings (AD800 and 1100).
At this stage there are two Australian breeders:
Joy & Abraham van Raalte, phone: (08) 8536 3220
PO Box 1510
Townsville, QLD, 4510
Phone: (07) 4778 8495
Fax: (07) 4789 1399