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Horse Breeds
First Posted: June 25, 2009
May 16, 2013

Norwegian Fjord Horse, Fjord, Norges Fjordhest (Norwegian), Fjording, Nordbag, Nordfjord, Northern Dun, Norwegian Dun, Norwegian Pony, Vestland, West Norway, West Norwegian

Saethersblakken photo is ©Sandy North/Posted with permission

Fjords Can Canter photo ©Sandy North/Posted with permission

Grey Stallion photo is ©Beth Beymer/Posted with permission

White Dun Stallion in traditional Norwegian Harness photo ©Beth Beymer/Posted with permission

Red Dun Filly - Picture copyrighted/Posted with permission

Thank you both, for providing these lovely photos!

Country of Origin: Norway


The Fjord Horse is one of the oldest breeds of equids. It bears a striking resemblance to the horses painted on cave walls by ice age artists some 30,000 years ago. The Fjord has earned a reputation as a strong, durable and pleasant-natured equine. It is used by the farmers of Norway as a general purpose pony to pull loads on their hilly farms. In addition to its strength, the breed is also noted for its light and smooth action. The Fjord horse has a thick coat so that it can endure rough winters with minimal care. The combined qualities of the breed have led to its exportation to many other countries in Europe where it has been widely used for light draft work.

Physical Description

The following is the physical description provided by the Fjord Registry so that there will not be any misunderstanding:


The majority of Fjord Horses are brown dun, while a small percentage are either grey, red dun, or white dun. The rarest color, yellow dun, is seldom seen, even in Norway. One of the breed's 'trademarks' is the upright mane, which compliments the horse's frame and structure well. Traditionally, the most common and desirable markings found on Fjords are:

Primitive markings:
  • Small brown marks over the eyes and on the checks and thighs.
  • Dark horizontal stripes on the legs, especially the forelegs.
  • Can have one or more dark stripes over withers, very seldom seen.
  • Dark ear outlines and tips.
  • Darker mid-section in the forelock, mane and tail.
  • A full-length, darker dorsal stripe.
  • Some 'feathering' on the legs, but not profuse.
  • Dark hoof color; may range to amber in red and yellow dun horses. Some striping may occur.
  • All of the accepted Fjord horse colors and their variations must be kept. Avoid markings that are not typical for the breed. A small star is acceptable."

The Fjord Horse originated in western Norway.

Interesting Facts

The ancestors of the Fjord Horse were used by the Vikings as their primary mount. Therefore, it may be assumed that it affected the breeds indigenous to other countries, notably the "mountain and moorland" ponies of Great Britain, and the Icelandic Horse. Considerable numbers of the Fjord horses were exported to Denmark at the turn of the century. There, the breed has been used on farms, especially in the northern area known as Jutland.

A Note: The following was sent to me in an e-mail so I would like to post this information. Thank you to Mr. Jorrit van Grieken for providing this information, although some of it has been disputed--see below. The bolding was added by me:

The Norwegian Fjord and the Døle Horse (East Valley Horse) are NOT two different types of the same breed. The Fjord is a really old pony breed from the western part of Norway, probably with origins from the Przewalski horse. The Fjord was also the horse of the vikings. The Døle horse on the other hand is a small but heavy draft horse (not pony) from east of Norway, that more resembles the heavy horses of Britain, whom are also partly founders of this breed. The breed has its origins in the 1700th century. Although these two breeds have occasionally met in the past, a mix between them would not be recognized in either registry. (Both breeds have their own registry). Thus, a Fjord can NEVER have any other colour than dun. They ar, in fact, homozygous and will have to be mixed in at least three generations before the offspring will get any other colour than dun. So, conclusion: Fjord= one breed, Døle= one different breed. (By the way, the Døle and the North Swedish horse, are basically the same breed, and are mixed quite often. The lighter version of both breeds, Norwegian-and Swedish Cold Blood Trotters share the same registry)

Note from Nancy Newport, Executive Director, Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry, United States regarding Mr. van Grieken's e-mail - it is not likely that the Prezewalski is the predessor of the Fjord horse. Exact quote: "the Prezewalski is a different species and is not likely the predessor of the Fjord horse." Also noted - the Fjord Horse is NOT a pony.

Note: The following was sent to me in an e-mail by Nancy Newport, Executive Director, Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry, United States: "...A Fjord Horse representative from Denmark was surfing North American websites and came across yours. They were concerned that inaccurate information was included. We appreciate the effort you have made to include the Norwegian Fjord Horse and would like to provide some more accurate information for you, and perhaps some more representative photos. Please contact me if you would like to have some photos and I can provide some with permission... Please note that the Doele-Hest is a separate breed, and that the Norwegian Fjord Association of North America is now defunct and has merged with our Registry. The Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry (NFHR) is the only registry in the United States."

Update: Inbreeding levels in Norwegian Fjords

The Norwegian Fjord horse is a small breed noted for its consistent type and conformation. MARE Center graduate student Adrienne Bhatnagar is investigating the breed's genetic variability. She has found that, contrary to popular opinion, the North American Fjord population does not exhibit high levels of inbreeding; however, some genetic diversity has been lost since the foundation of the breed. (Virginia Tech/Mare Center News/November 2010, Volume 1, Issue 2)

For More Information:

Permission given by my dear friend, Cowboy Frank to use his breeds section.
Norwegian Fjord Horse
Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry
Breeds of Livestock Oklahoma University-Fjord Pony

Horse Breeds