The Fjord Horse enjoys an unbelievably long history in its native Norway and is still popular there today. But while it can certainly still be found in its native country, the Fjord Horse is more likely to be found outside of Norway than in it. This is because the Fjord has enjoyed a long export history, from its humble beginnings as a candidate for imported draught horses in Denmark to its being imported by royalty in Great Britain, and the breed can be found all over Europe and as far away as North America. Here we'll take a look at the Fjord Horse's long export history.
It is largely thanks to the country of Denmark that the Fjord Horse was ever considered for exportation in the first place. In the beginning of the 19th century, the Danish Association of Smallholders Societies started an intensive search for a horse that would be suitable for working on the numerous farms scattered around the country. After importing and trying out any number of ponies and horses, the Fjord Horse was chosen because, among the smaller breeds of horses tested, this breed was the most versatile and useful. The Fjord could be used on both small and large farms and could do the same kinds of work as larger breeds without the same kind of wear on the terrain, which easily won the Danes over. Soon, thousands of Fjords were imported to Denmark.
Around the same time, the Germans saw the benefits of the Fjord and started importing it as well. First seen among smaller farmers in northern Germany, soon the government of Lower Saxony brought in a few Fjord stallions for breeding purposes. Many of the descendants of these Fjord stallions went on to be award winners in various horse shows in Germany. Thanks to the awards, the Fjord caught the attention of those in Eastern Europe looking to improve their stock, and soon the Fjords were being imported there as well. Around the same time, Swedes and Finns were immigrating to America and some brought their beloved Fjord horses with them.
The Fjord finally made it to the United Kingdom in the 20th century thanks to the second Duke of Westminster, who became very fond of the horses he saw in Stryn in the summer of 1928 on vacation. Although it should be noted that Fjords did appear in the United Kingdom before the 20th century, the Duke was the first to import the breed for the sole purpose of establishing a Fjord population, not to cross with other breeds. Shortly after returning to Britain, the Duke had a stallion and three mares imported to his estate in Sutherland. In the same year, Lord Glentanar, a friend of His Grace, also imported a few Fjords and established a stud. There are many Fjords in Britain that can trace their history back to these first Fjords belonging to the Duke and Lord Glentanar.
Soon, breeders in the United States and Canada became interested in the popular Fjord and started importing the horses to establish studs there as well. Soon, Norway realized that it had a responsibility for its native breed and created the Norsk Hestesenter stud book, was officially named the "Mother country of the Fjord Horse" by charter by the European Union Commission. Today, Fjord horses outside of Norway must conform to Norway's standards in order to be accepted into the Fjord Horse Mother Studbook.