The Norwegian Fjord Horse is a Norwegian breed with deep roots in the Nordfjord region and in Western Norway. It is one of three Norwegian national horse breeds, and is considered Norway’s national breed.

Description of the breed

The Fjord Horse differs from other breeds given its dun colour, right up mane and characteristic look. An important feature of the Fjord is the head. The head should be relatively small with a broad forehead and a concave form of the nasal bridge. The eyes should be big, dark, clear and appear calm. The Fjord is well muscled throughout the neck, withers and croup. The legs should be well-posed and strong. The height of the withers should be between 135 and 150 cm.

The Fjord has many of the characteristics we know only from the Przewalski horse, the last remaining wild horse. The characteristic dun colour in different shades are unique to the Fjord. The Fjord appears in the colours brown dun, uls dun, red dun, yellow dun and grey dun. The dorsal stripe, running from the forelock, through the mane (midtstol), along the back (eel) ending in the tail (tailfeathers) varies in darkness depending on the colour of the horse. Horizontal, dark stripes over the limbs and a dark horizontal stripe over the withers (grip) are other features of the Fjord. 

Population in Norway:

Current breeding population (mares and stallions) born 2000 to 2019: 2800
Number of foals born 2019: 170

Before 1860 the roads and general infrastructure of the Western part of Norway was very poor. The Westland Horse (the name of the horse at the time) was of great importance for making transport over mountains and along the fjords possible. In the steep and rough terrain the Westland horse was light, agile and well fitted. Historical protocols from 1750 tells us that more colours were common in the Fjord, as we know from the Islandic horse. An important part of the breeding was to maintain the dun colour, as it was seen as a symbol of the pureness of the Fjord. The very first stud book was published in 1910.    

Use of the Fjord today

Today the Fjord is still used for heavy farm work and makes a unique pack horse, given its ability to handle rough and rocky terrain. The majority of the horses are though used for lighter work such as riding and driving for sports and recreation. The Fjord Horse is also popular outside of Norway; the are more Fjord in Denmark, Germany and in the Netherlands than in Norway. There is also great interest for the Fjord in Sweden and in the USA.