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Norwegian Fjord - Horse Breed & Info

Characteristics of the Norwegian Fjord Norwegian Fjord Article and Photos Copyrighted - see credits below

The Norwegian Fjord, bears a striking a resemblance to the Asiatic Wild Horse, and may also have a connection with the Tarpan, as it retains both their coat color and much of their primitive vigor.


The Fjord was the Viking’s horse and is recognizable in rune stone carvings in Norway, many of them depict fights between stallions, perhaps an early form of performance testing.

The Fjord went with the warriors in their longboats when they raided Scotland’s Western Isles and the Norwegian Fjord influence remains in Scotland’s Highland Pony and in the ancient Icelandic Horse.

Although the Fjord is primitive in type, selective breeding has produced a suggestion of eastern blood, possibly from the tarpan, and limbs of great strength and substance. Also called Norwegian Dun, West Norway, West Norwegian, Westland or Northern Dun, this breed is an ancient breed and one of the few that has retained its original character


The Head of the Fjord is wide and pony like, with small, sharp ears. There is some thickness through the jowl, but the profile is never convex. The body is rounded in the barrel and very well muscled. A powerful, fairly broad chest is typical and there is no discernible withers and no great slope to the shoulders.

The limbs are an outstanding feature of the Norwegian Fjord ,powerful, short and straight with excellent joints. Selective breeding has ensured a substantial bone measurement below the knee and short cannons. The hooves are exemplary in every way, being sound, hard and properly shaped.

From early Viking times, it was the custom to cut the coarse mane so that it stands erect, the crescent shape giving a pronounced crest to the neck. The black hair at the center of the mane stands out above the lighter hair on either side of the center. The tail is often silver and is thick and full but is occasionally low set. The dorsal eel stripe is typical of the Norwegian Fjord and reveals the breed’s primitive ancestry. The quarters reflect the short, compact conformation and the overall strength of build. Light feather occurs on the heels.

The Fjord color is dun, in all its shades, accompanied by a dorsal stripe running from the forelock to the tip of the tail. There are often zebra bars on the legs. Height is between 13 and 14 hands.


The Norwegian Fjord is found in variant types throughout Scandinavia but is bred principally in Norway. A great number are exported to Germany, Denmark and Central European countries, Canada, and other countries where their qualities have made them popular.

The fjord excels as a surefooted, enduring worker in difficult conditions of terrain and climate and makes an excellent harness horse.

In its native land, the powerful Norwegian Fjord carries out every sort of work, taking the place of the tractor on mountain farms. It will draw a plough, and carry a pack load through rivers and along precipitous mountain tracks. It is also used under saddle and excels in long distance events, which suit its courage and boundless stamina. It is a brilliant performer in harness and can hold it sown in demanding competitive events. The Fjord is known to have an exceptionally good temperament.

The first purposeful breeding program in Norway was begun in the mid 1880’s. Prior to this time the Fjord was smaller than at present, but since the end of the 19th century all cross breeding has stopped and the Norwegian Fjord has since been bred pure.

English riding Norwegian Horse Fjord stallion
Photos &copy: Oelke or archive Oelke. On the far right is a grullo Norwegian Fjord stallion. For some reason, grullo Norwegian Fjords are often closer to the Tarpan or even the Sorraia in conformation as well. For information regarding the Sorraia horse, the Vale de Zebro Wild Horse Refuge, and the Sorraia Mustang - visit sorraia.org

Fjord Competition

Competitive Fjords. Photo © Jolene Bertrand - Avalon Photography

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