Rare Breeds Horses

Fjord Horses

RBTA recently surveyed the numbers of Fjord horses in Australia and have found there to be 3 stallions (1SA, 1 Qld, 1 Vic), approximately 30 mares, (although not all of these are suitable for breeding due to age etc), and about 20 geldings. Fjords are now registered by the Australian Pony Stud Book and have a separate promotional group. They are an excellent family mount and would make an ideal small farm work horse.

The Norwegian Fjord Horse is one of the world's oldest breeds. Herds of wild Fjord horses existed in Norway after the last Ice Age. Archaeological excavations at Viking burial sites reveal that the horse has been intentionally bred for at least 2000 years.

The Fjord horse retains the 'wild' or dun colour of the original horse as well as primitive markings including dark hair in the forelock, mane and tail, a dark stripe that runs down the neck and entire length of the back and dark horizontal stripes on the legs. Dark stripes over the withers may also be seen.

The dun colour of the Fjord horse comes in different tones including brown dun (brunblakk), red dun (rodblakk), grey (gra) pale dun (ulsblakk) and gold (gul). The brown dun is an attractive buckskin colour and the most frequently seen. The red dun has red in its mane instead of black. Pale dun (cream colour with dark stripe), grey (grey with dark stripe and points), and gold (mane has gold stripe) are quite rare.

The head is of medium size and well defined with a broad, flat forehead and a straight to slightly concave profile. The eyes are large and dark with a soft expression. The nostrils are large and the ears should be small and truncated. The neck of the Fjord is well muscled and crested. The mane is trimmed to stand erect to emphasize the graceful curve of the neck and display the dramatic dark stripe.

The body is generally short, strongly coupled with good depth and with well-developed muscles. The legs are powerful with substantial bone and hard feet. Fjord horses stand between 13 to 14.2hh and weigh between 900 and 1500 pounds.
Fjord horses are mild mannered, calm, sensible and predictable. They are friendly, strong, surefooted, courageous and thrifty. Fjords have graceful and balanced gaits both under saddle and in harness. Stallions are as tractable as mares and often work or show alongside them. The Fjord has the intelligence and talent to perform multiple functions, making him a favourite with the whole family.

Highland Ponies

The Highland is the largest of the three Scottish native breeds of pony, reaching a maximum of 14.2hh (148cms). A modern adult pony can weigh as much as 550kg. Its original environment of the Scottish Highlands and Islands, to which it is well adapted, has made it a hardy, sure-footed animal. The island ponies, because of their harsher environment, tended to be smaller and lighter boned than their mainland relations. Its winter coat is thick and insulating and enables it to live outside in all weathers. It has a profuse, silky mane and tail and feathering on the legs. The summer coat is smooth.

It's strength, sure-footedness and equable temperament made it an invaluable workhorse for the crofters of Scotland who used the Highland as a multi purpose animal - for ploughing, forestry, riding and haulage.

The sporting estates found the Highland useful for bringing deer and game from the hill and many modern day estates have reverted to the ponies as being more environmentally friendly than 4x4 vehicles. In the First World War, the Lovat Scouts used Highlands as army mounts and they were also used by the military in the Boer War. With the advent of pony trekking in Scotland in 1955, the Highland came into its own and the breed became more widely known. Nowadays, the Highland makes an excellent family pony, as it is a good all rounder, and will turn a hoof to riding, driving, dressage, jumping, cross country and long distance riding, as well as being extensively used for RDA work. Highlands are able to carry an adult of up to 95 kilos in weight. In the Mountain and Moorland Ridden Pony of the Year at Olympia, Highlands were champion and reserve in 1999.

The Highland Pony is a non-genetically modified pony! It is descended from the primitive ponies of Scotland and there is no subjective assessment of breeding stock. (There is however a Highland Pony Society Premium Stallion Parade, where willing owners can subject their stallions to the scrutiny of three inspectors in the hope of being awarded premium). The Highland still retains the eel stripe marking, shoulder stripes and zebra stripes on the legs, which typify it as an ancient breed along with Przevalsky horses, Koniks and Fjord ponies. It comes in a range of colours from the duns (mouse, yellow, cream and grey), brown, bay and black. The solid colours remain throughout life, but the cream and grey dun ponies eventually turn white. The Highland Ponies bred on Rhum (one of the Islands), exhibit unusual colours such as chestnut with silver mane and tail.

Since the 1880s, Highlands have been registered in a studbook. There is no breeding scheme as such, and this results in a diversity of types and bloodlines. White marks are frowned upon by the breed society, and only a small star is acceptable in the show ring. A stallion with white markings, apart from a small star, cannot be licensed.

Highland Ponies have been exported to many countries and there are studs in France, Belgium, Holland, Poland, Germany, Australia, Canada and USA.