Part of Horse Previews Magazine website. Posted on 9/4/98; 2:00:00PM.

The Fjording

Norse Mythology tells of immortal horses, beloved by the Gods. When the Viking warrior maidens, the Valkyrie, ride their horses through the heavens bearing fallen heroes to Valhalla, the home of the Gods, it is seen by the mortals as the mysterious, ever-shifting glow of the Northern Lights. (Lana Slaton)

Beloved by the Gods. Deemed worthy to perform this most important heavenly task. No ordinary horse is this, to inspire such high regard. What makes this horse so special?

Imagine a horse the color of a wheat field, with a most unusual and unique feature, a mane like that of no other horse. Cut into a crescent shape to accent the proud arch of their muscular necks, the hairs stand upright, white hairs on the outside and black in the center. This dark dorsal stripe continues on down the middle of the back to the tail. A beautiful head with small alert ears and wide set, dark, gentle eyes evokes love at first sight. The horse of the Valkyrie would need to be easy to mount, not too tall. But it must certainly be exceptionally strong and sure footed. Most essential should be a calm, gentle nature and a charming and loving personality. This would be a "Fjording."

An ancient horse, treasured by the Vikings. In a children's coloring book, "Horses In History," author Lana Slaton tells of the Vikings love for their horses. "They were the rarely given gift of sacrifice to the Gods and the only suitable gift of Kings. Three worldly possessions were viewed as sacred by the Vikings and they would only be buried with these. Their iron swords, their long ships, and their most beloved animal, the Norwegian Dun or Fjording. Horse skulls graced the prows of their long ships to warn of hidden dangers and were hung about the home to protect the family against evil. Never risking their horses in battle, they rode them to and from the scene and then dismounted to fight on foot. Chieftains used their horses to be visible to their men and to direct the battle. This is where the expression "Getting on your high horse" originated." (Lana Slaton)

Not just a myth, more than immortal, a horse with a history and a future. The Fjord (pronounced Fee-ord) is the oldest equine breed, more than four thousand years old. They are direct descendants of the ancient wild horse "Preswalski," who is now nearly extinct. The Fjord's dorsal stripe and zebra markings on the legs attest to their ice age origins. They are also the oldest known domesticated horse, having been selectively bred in Norway for more than two thousand years.

This very old breed is relatively new in America. In the early 1950's twenty one Fjordings were imported from Norway. These sixteen mares and five stallions were the foundation breeding stock for the United States. Widespread interest in the Norwegian Fjord Horse didn't begin until the early 1970's. Considered an all purpose horse, they have always been and still are used for riding, driving, packing, and pulling.

A strong and versatile horse with a gentle, people oriented personality, a most unique appearance and a wonderful story. This is a horse for all; the practical, the lover, and the dreamer. As you gaze into those soft brown eyes or they lay their head across your shoulder, as if in embrace, you know without a doubt, these are indeed very special horses.

by Shelene Weholt

Slaton, Lana. Horses in History. Los Angeles. Troubador Press. 1987

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