Norwegian Fjord Horses: Domestic Breed, Exotic Look

Brok, our grey dun Fjord stallion, summer 2003 Brok, our grey dun Fjord stallion, summer 2003 Brok, our grey dun Fjord stallion, summer 2003 Brok, our grey dun Fjord stallion, summer 2003

What has stripes on its legs and an upright mane like a zebra? No, it's not a zorse or zony or any kind of zebra's not an exotic animal at all and there are certainly NO permits required to own one! This is, in fact, one of the world's oldest and purest domestic equines: this is the Norwegian Fjord Horse. Migrating into Norway over 4000 years ago, the Fjord Horse had been selectively bred for at least 2000 years as indicated by archeological evidence found at Viking burial sites.
Fjord Horses of today retain many of the physical characteristics of their primitive ancestors from Asia, the Przewalski or Mongolian Wild Horse, from which they are believed to be descended. Yet, unlike their wild cousins, the extremely gentle disposition of the Fjord Horse is its most outstanding quality. Their cool temperament and overall versatility, both under saddle and in harness, make them the ideal family horse. They can be used as schooling horses for the young, inexperienced, or handicapped rider; yet, are large and powerful enough to suit the needs of any adult rider, driver, or small-scale farmer.

Mongolian Wild Horse & Foal - photo by Dawn Marie Calo

The Norwegian Fjord Horse comes in a variety of sizes, from the lighter type used for saddle, carriage, or pleasure to the heavier draft type used for plowing, discing, skidding, and other farm work. Fjords have been shown to excel in many disciplines of riding including Western, English, Dressage, and Combined Driving. They are also becoming ever more popular as pack animals for treks into mountainous terrain. Their feed efficiency, sure-footedness, and thick winter hair coats passed on through the genes of their ancestors who adapted to living for centuries in Norway, of course.
Isha & Dina in a Parade Of Breeds exhibition - photo by Chris Taylor If you are looking for a matched pair of horses to drive as a team, look no further! Every Fjord Horse exhibits the "wild" dun color of the ancestral horse as well as primitive markings which include zebra stripes on the legs and a dorsal stripe that runs from the forelock down the neck and back and into the tail. Transverse stripes may also be seen over the withers. In fact, >90% of all Fjord Horses are brown dun in color. The others are either red dun, gray, pale dun, gold or yellow dun.
One of the most unique characteristic of the Fjord Horse is their upright mane. The dorsal stripe runs through the center hair of the mane and is dark, usually black, while the outer fringe hair is cream or white. The mane naturally grows upright, but is kept trimmed to the length of several inches to ensure that it will always stand erect (even when soaking wet!). The mane is trimmed in a characteristic crescent shape to emphasize the curve of the neck. The white outer hair is then trimmed slightly shorter than the dark inner hair to display the dramatic dark stripe down the center.

Above all, Norwegian Fjord Horses maintain the hardiness and vigor of their wild ancestors with hardness of hoof, strength of bone, and efficiency of feed conversion. Fjords average between 13 and 15 hands and weigh between 900 and 1,500 pounds depending on their body type. Regardless, these horses are extremely "easy keepers", maintaining excellent body condition on good pasture alone. They are so efficient, it is often difficult to keep the weight OFF from these horses! The Fjord Horse grows a thick, protective winter hair coat and can endure cold climates with minimal care. Fair weather friends fear not! This highly adaptable horse handles hot weather with equal ease.
So many positive aspects of the Norwegian Fjord Horse make them an excellent choice, whether for the first time horse owner or experience equestrians looking for something different. Though their unique and exotic looks are what draw one's attention to begin with, it's their sweet personalities and willing dispositions that will make you fall in love with this breed! For more information, contact: Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry, 1203 Appian Drive, Webster, NY 14580 (716)872-4114. Visit their website at: or E-mail the registrar at:

Isha & Dina as yearlings
Isha and Dina, 1996

Having owned Quarter Horses most of our lives and looking for something different, we fell in love with and subsequently purchase our first
Norwegian Fjord Horses as weanlings in the fall of 1995. The fillies,
Dina and Isha, were both brown dun (as are >90% of all Fjords). Click on underlined name to see that horse's pedigree and photo's on the NFHR website.

When Dina and Isha turned 5 years old in 2000, we decided to have them bred. Without a stallion of our own then, we had cooled semen shipped from a rare grey dun Fjord stallion, Bjorn-Knutson of Dun Lookin' Fjords. Dina settled on her first AI, but Isha remained open after two attempts. It was getting late in the season, so we decided to wait and get an earlier start on Isha next year. In a sad turn of events, Bjorn died of colic that December.

2001 found us once again in the market for a stallion to service our mares. We located another gorgeous grey Fjord stallion, MVF Erlend of Knutsen Fjord Farm, and this time Isha settled on her first AI in April that year. The foal Dina was carrying by Bjorn-Knutson arrived on June 18th, 2001 - a handsome colt that we named Odhinn. He was gelded at 6 months of age and was later sold to a wonderful family with a sweet little girl to love him forever. Dina was then rebred by AI to MVF Erlend in July of 2001.

Isha gave birth to a handsome colt foal on Easter Sunday, March 31st, 2002. We named the colt Aske (a.k.a. - "Ash") since he looked like he was going to be a grey just like his sire, MVF Erlend. His baby pictures are to the left of our address below. While Aske matured out to be a brown dun, he has beautiful dark barring on his legs, superb conformation, bold and out-going with a presence that commands one's attention! Aske was sold to a wonderful family who's daughter had fallen in love with the Fjord breed.

Dina gave birth to a beautiful filly foal on Sunday, June 23rd, 2002. We named the filly Nova. She has the prettiest head and most feminine features. Her baby pictures are to the right of our address below. Although brown dun herself, being a daughter of MVF Erlend, Nova carries one copy of the recessive black gene (EE, Aa) that will produce a grey dun if paired up with another copy from a mating. So Nova will remain here, eventually joining our broodmare herd.

In 2003, we decided to purchase a grey dun Fjord stallion of our own, finding just what we were looking for in Brok, a 2002 colt bred by Dennis & Jeane Downing of The Pines Fjords, in Cambridge, IL. His photo's are located across the top of this page and in the lower right hand corner below. Brok has the sweetest disposition and is very much the people-horse; always right there if you're in the pasture, visiting the herd, doing fencework, having a bonfire, or whatever. However, 2003 also brought us a profound sadness with the loss of our beloved mare, Dina, to colic in July.

The year 2004 found us looking looking at the addition of three new Fjords: 1) a 2002 grey dun filly, Nitah, that is of MVF Erlend breeding on her dam's topside; 2) a 1992 grey broodmare, Veni's Finn, that has excellent color genetics including a copy of the red gene (Ee, aa); and, a 2004 grey filly, Finola, that is out of Veni's Finn and sired by CRR Graysen. An ultrasound on May 7th confirmed that Finn was already 60 days back in foal by Graysen. Since we are focusing on the grey dun gene in our breeding program, we sold our brown dun mare, Isha. She is now residing in Strasburg, Colorado. Since Finola was only purchased as part of a package deal in order to acquire Veni's Finn, she has been weaned and SOLD. Finola is now residing in Nuevo, California, with a long-time Fjord acquaintance of ours who just happens to own a Fjord mare named Runa that is a full-sister to our late beloved Fjord mare, Dina.

On Thursday, February 10th, 2005, Veni's Finn gave birth to a beautiful filly foal . We named the filly Fiona Eple. She is a very rare red dun (ee, aa)! See her in the second row of photo's below on the right side. Another exciting event that occurred this spring was our Fjords' involvement in a soon-to-be-released children's book by Flory Godinez! The book will be part of a series that teaches music through The Adventures of Max & Millie and the live photographs taken of our Fjords will be digitally characturized in it. Getting back to the ranch, we rebred Veni's Finn to Brok in July, so she is expecting another foal in June 2006. Since we decided to keep the red dun filly, Fiona Eple, we must sell one of our other mares to make room in the pasture. It was a tough decision, but we want to keep one mare of each color and Veni's Finn has such a great production record, we offered the younger grey mare, Nitah, FOR SALE.

Wow! 2006 is turning out to be the year of equine DNA information. Actually, it was in December of 2005 that we were contacted by a research group at the
College of Veterinary Medicine, Texas A&M University actively engaged in analyzing the equine genome. To facilitate this work, they were requesting our collaboration and contribution in the form of blood samples. These samples will be used to isolate and archive DNA, which will be analyzed with the Y- chromosome markers presently being developed in their laboratory. We happily obliged by donating 30 ml of blood from both Brok and our mammoth jack, Jarratt's King Kalico, in January 2006. Then, in March, we were contacted by Glynis Giddings-Scott who is making a horse genetics web site which is initially concentrating on color and pattern. She was particularly looking for some nice photo's to illustrate the various colors, shades, markings and patterns, wanting examples of Fjord horse colors. We gladly gave permission to use photo's of the Fjords she requested: Brok, Nova, and Fiona Eple. Then, in May, we decided to send in hair samples to UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory for DNA color tests on all five of our Fjords, curious whether any carried the dilution gene (Cr), and to accurately calculate breeding outcomes with respect to foal color. Links to the VGL test reports can be found on Brok's Progeny page where see photo's of Brok's first foal, out of Veni's Finn, that was born May's a boy! We've named our new arrival "And Gra". We've also began breeding both Nitah and Nova to Brok for spring 2007 foals. Veni's Finn was also rebred to Brok and is expecting a foal in late May 2007...stay tuned to Brok's Progeny page for new arrivals!

2007 has seen the departure of And Gra to his new home in Salados, Texas, and brought the arrival our first outside customer for Brok's services, Kjor Hannah, owned by Sammie Floyd. Hannah has already been bred and is confirmed in foal for a late February 2008 foal. Our first foal of 2007 was born to Nitah on May 1st...both mare and foal are now owned by Shannon Kaplan. Then, on a very rare stroke of luck, Nova presented us with a beautiful grey dun filly right there in broad daylight as we were making the feeding rounds on May 12th! Our best friends, Brian and Summer Cataldo, had just stopped by to visit and got to witness the birth as well...such a special event! We named this filly foal Elke. Nova has been bred back to Brok for a June 2008 foal. Then later that month, Veni's Finn gave us another grey dun foal by Brok on May 27th who we named Ansel. Finn has remained open for 2008. On a more somber note, the company that both of us work for, STMicroelectronics, announced on July 10th the closure of its last two remaining US fabrication plans, which is to occur within the next 2-3 years. So after 25 years of working together for the same company, we will be looking for new jobs. In light of such, we have decided to sell all of our Fjords (except Brok). Congratulations to Brian and Summer Cataldo on their purchase of Nova and Fiona Eple! That sure helped us out.

2008 was a bad year due to high gasoline prices and the economic downturn overall. No sales with deal breakers being the high shipping costs. We decided to keep Veni's Finn and bred her back to Brok for a spring 2009 foal. Our jobs are still hanging in there with the outlook for the plant closure to occur sometime in 2009. Not much else to say for now.

2009 saw the arrival of yet another grey foal from Veni's Finn, a filly born in January that we named Anikka...she's a real cutie pie! Otherwise, we were released from our jobs at ST Microelectronics on June 9th and officially unemployed for the first time in 25 years. We plan on going back to college for retraining in the Oil & Gas Industry. YAY!!!

2010 was spent attending college at North Central Texas College as planned. Veni's Finn was bred back to Brok for a spring 2011 foal and we still had our pretty grey mare, Elke, who has since been SOLD.

2011 found that Veni's Finn was not pregnant, just fat! I guess that's what we get for scrimping on costs and forgoing an ultrasound to verify pregnancy, but that's college kids for ya (!). Anyway, Finn is on a diet and being bred back to Brok, so hopefully we will get a foal from her next year. Following an inquiry about a Fjord suitable for a young rider, we ended up selling Elke to the mom who is going to keep her for herself and train Elke as a Dressage prospect.

Here are some of the babies that we've raised...

Veni's Finn with 3 month old Finola
Finola, sired by CRR Graysen
pictured with dam, Veni's Finn

Matt & Heidi McCarty
Valley View, Texas
(940) 637 - 2538

Veni's Finn with newborn Fiona Eple
Fiona Eple, sired by CRR Graysen
pictured with dam, Veni's Finn

Isha with her newborn foal, Aske - son of MVF Erlend
Aske, sired by MVF Erlend
pictured with dam, Isha

Odhinn being shown in an open yearling halter class
Odhinn (Bjorn-Knutson x Dina)
shown by Heidi J. McCarty

Dina with her newborn foal, Nova - daughter of MVF Erlend
Nova, sired by MVF Erlend
pictured with dam, Dina

This is our current broodmare & broodmare prospect line-up below...

Nita, 2 year old grey dun Fjord filly
Nitah, 2002 grey Fjord mare *SOLD*

Veni's Finn, 12 year old grey dun Fjord mare
Veni's Finn, 1992 grey Fjord mare

Fiona Eple at 6 mos of age...a rare red dun!
Fiona Eple, 2005 red dun Fjord filly *SOLD*

Nova at 3 years of age.
Nova, 2002 brown dun Fjord mare *SOLD*

For more info, visit these Fjord-related websites:
The Domestic Breed with an Exotic Look

Norwegian Fjord Horse Color Genetics
Statistics on Norwegian Fjord Horses
Fjords: Big Pony, Little Horse?
Colours of the Fjord Horse
Horse Genetics Web Site
Equine Art Gallery
Fjord Color

Brok, spring 2006
See Brok's Progeny and broodmare lineup.

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