a close up of a horse's eye with a blurry background
a close up of a horse's eye with a blurry background

Norwegian Fjord Horse

With such a unique, primitive appearance more than a little reminiscent of the famous wild Przewalski Horses of Mongolia, the Fjord is impossible to not stop and admire. A rare sight in New Zealand, most people are unaware that any reside here and they are a favourite at the rare horse breed shows and displays.


All Fjord Horses have Dun coat colours. They will all feature the dorsal stripe with white mane and tail on the outer sides. 90% of all Fjords are Brown Dun. Pictured left to right are: Red Dun, Yellow Dun, Grey Dun, Brown Dun & White Dun (Ulsdun).

white and gray house near mountain under cloud
white and gray house near mountain under cloud

Norwegian Fjord Mood Playlist

Fjord Horses in New Zealand

Fjords in New Zealand

Recently Fjords were imported to New Zealand in 1996 and their population has been steadily growing since.

Today there are over 60 Fjords here with a dedicated group of breeders bringing them into the spotlight around New Zealand and promoting at local events.

2023 sees the first mare successfully artificially inseminated using overseas semen. This is great news as it means new blood lines are introduced to head off a genetic bottleneck.

Explore the nature, history and versatility of the Norwegian Fjord Horse.

What's it like to own one?

Norwegian Fjord Horses Compared to Other Breeds with Tess Bailey and Zach Hedberg.

Fjords Globally

Horses of Norway:

The three national Norwegian horse breeds, the Dole horse, the Fjord horse, and the Nordland/Lyngen horse are all listed on the FAOs list of endangered breeds.

In 2019 the available breeding populations consisted of ~2500 Dole horses, ~2800 Fjord horses (in Norway) and ~1600 Nordland/Lyngen horses, respectively (Norsk Hestesenter, 2020). However, only ~15% of the available mares are covered each year.

a close up of a green plant
a close up of a green plant

Norwegian Dole

Click image to view a thesis discussing the addition and removal of the Dole from the Fjord Horse breeding programs.

Challenges for the NZ Fjord Horse:

Height - many riders will bypass the Fjord as a viable riding partner due to their shorter size. These riders should not despair as the Fjord is a strong, ancient breed that can handle heavier riders and their ample barrels and sturdy build fill out the legs and provide a horse of good proportion to their riders.

Fjords are an all round capable horse that can participate in many equestrian sports such as driving, dressage and trail riding.

Conservation action in Norway:

The Swedish-Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research have funded the project ‘FeNomen: Fertility in national Norwegian horse breeds’. One of the goals of the project is to describe genetic variation in the Norwegian Fjord Horse, and to identify whether there are genes which contributes to decreased reproductive performance in the breed. The genes we are looking for are recessive which means they are not detrimental to reproduction of the individual horse but may have negative effects on the performance of the population if found to be widespread.

Originating in Norway, they were first domesticated over 4,000 years ago and played a crucial role in Viking expeditions as warhorses. Historians believe the breed migrated to Norway thousands of years ago, where it became domesticated.

Today the breed is found in many countries across the world numbering 30,000 approximately. Breeding of the Fjord horse has occurred for over 2,000 years.

This breed was so prized that flags for both Gloppen and Eid in the Norwegian district of Nordfjord feature Fjord horses on their coats of arms.


The Norwegian Fjord horse has one of the longest histories of any breed without crossbreeding with other horse types. Attempts were made to cross the Fjord with another Norwegian breed, the Dole, but in 1907 it was decided that this experiment was a failure, and Dole blood was soon eliminated from Fjord lines.

A pure Fjord stallion named Njål was used to restart Fjord breeding, and all pure Fjord horses today can be traced back to him. There are multiple registries for this breed, in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, the USA, and Canada, although Norway still sets the breed standard.

Gloppen and Eid flags featuring Fjord Horses illustrating the importance of the breed in these regions.

All of today's Fjord Horses trace back to this single stallion Njal 166. We must ensure something this devastating never happens to breeds again.

Fjord Horse Video Library

If you know of a great video to add to this library or replace existing out of date informative videos please contact us.

For more information about Norwegian Fjord Horses in New Zealand contact NZ Fjords at fjords.nz

Meet the NZ Fjords Breeders in New Zealand: