Today’s Horse Facts: The Norwegian Fjord

The Norwegian Fjord (Fēˈôrd) is one of the oldest and purest breeds of horses. It’s believed he has his roots in western Norway for more than 4,000 years.

The Norwegian Fjord: A Distinct Appearance!

To see a picture of this horse go to 

“Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right.”

(Proverbs 20:11)

            The Norwegian Fjord (Fēˈôrd) is one of the oldest and purest breeds of horses. It’s believed he has his roots in western Norway for more than 4,000 years. History records the Vikings embracing him as early as 2000 B.C. In more modern times, Norwegian hill farmers used these horses, (often called ponies), as little draft animals for plowing and carriage driving. However, as with most horses of this caliber, the Fjord can be found in competition worldwide such as dressage, jumping, eventing, and competitive driving.

Although he’s considered a mini draft horse, the Fjord has smooth gaits, not high knee action like many draft horses. Because of his smooth ride and a pleasant temperament, he’s a popular riding horse. He’s great with children and special needs folks at Norwegian riding and therapeutic schools.

Fjords range in size from 13.2 to 14.2 hands and weigh between 900 and 1200 pounds when full-grown, but that’s not what gives them a distinct appearance. They’re all shades of dun (tan), mostly gray and buckskin. But yellow duns are very rare. The breed standards accept five different shades of dun, recognized in Norway since 1922. He can have no white markings except a small star on the forehead. In 1982, the Norwegian Fjord Horse Association made a rule that stallions of any age with any other white markings than a small white star cannot be accepted for breeding.

But now we get to the really distinct characteristics. Some Fjord horses have small brown spots on their heads or bodies. These “Njal marks” are named after one of the foundation sires of the Fjord breed, who had such markings. Many Fjords have zebra stripes on their withers and legs. The hooves are most often dark but can be a lighter brown color on light-colored horses. The feet sometimes have feathering, but that’s discouraged by Fjord breeders.

Next, Norwegian Fjord Horses have a black “dorsal” stripe that starts on the top of their heads (the forelock) then runs down through their manes and down the middle of their backs to their tails. Another unique characteristic is the Fjord’s mane. Because of the dorsal stripe, the hair at the roots of the mane is dark (usually black) but the outer hair is white. Fjord owners usually cut the mane very short so all the hair stands up straight. Sometimes it’s trimmed in a crescent shape to emphasize the horse’s graceful, curved neck.  Other times, the mane can be trimmed in different patterns to display the obvious dark stripe.

And that’s not all! The Fjord breed’s conformation differs from many other breeds, and you can instantly identify a Fjord when you see him. Besides his strong, arched neck, he has sturdy legs and a solid body with lots of muscles. He has large eyes and small ears, and with a flat forehead, his face then appears straight or slightly dished. In the winter, his coat resembles that of a teddy bear because it grows long and thick.

Do you agree that the Norwegian Fjord Horse has a distinct appearance, which makes him so easy to identify? How about you? Do you have a distinct appearance, which makes you easy to identify as a Christian?

Your appearance doesn’t necessarily mean the way you comb your hair or the way you dress, although your physical “appearance” should be modest and God-honoring. Instead, the word can refer to your demeanor or behavior.

How do you act when things don’t go your way? Are you stubborn? Do you throw tantrum fits? Are you bossy, especially to siblings or other family members?  Do you have friends, or do other kids avoid you?

If your answers to any of these questions indicate a problem with your behavior, today can be the time to ask God to help you change. God is willing and able to help you with any problem you have. If you’re a Christian, the Holy Spirit is inside of you, and He’s always ready to guide you to your best behavior. All you need to do is ask.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have a distinct appearance (behavior) so that everyone around me knows I am a Christian. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think about your behavior over the last few days. Were there things you did that you’d like to change? Think hard about those things and ask God to help you change:

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Fjord Horses have two-toned manes and tails. Lighter hairs are on the outside edges of the mane and edges of the tail, and darker colors are close to the skin.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “I will behave myself wisely in a perfect way” (Psalm 101:2a).


Read about foster kid, Skye Nicholson, and her champion show horse, Champ,

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!


Today’s Horse Facts: The Mustang –

“Mustang” refers to the wild horses that roam the ranges of the western United States. The name comes from the Spanish word mesteña, which means “wild” or “stray.”

The Mustang: A Tongue Bridled and Tamed

To see a photo of a Mustang, please go to

“…We put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. 

 Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things.

See how great a forest a little fire kindles!

(James 3:3, 5 NKJV)

“Mustang” refers to the wild horses that roam the ranges of the western United States. The name comes from the Spanish word mesteña, which means “wild” or “stray.”

If you want to know what a Mustang looks like, that’s hard to describe because the breed has no overall characteristics. The reason? Many different breeds of horses over the centuries have contributed to the Mustang’s development. Some Mustangs are large and plump; others are smaller and delicate. The amount of available forage in different ranges also contributes to the horses’ different body shapes and sizes.

Although Mustangs are considered wild, the proper term is “feral” because they descended from domesticated horses. Mustangs are a breed known for their sure-footedness, toughness, and intelligence. They range from 13 to 16 hands, weigh from 600 to 1000 pounds, and are well suited for the rugged land. Mustangs come in any color or combination of colors.

Although Mustangs are often referred to as an “Indian ponies” or “paint ponies,” they’re not ponies but horses. Strangely, Native Americans were not the first to own Mustangs. In the 16th Century, Spanish conquistadors arrived in America with their equines that had Barb and Iberian roots. When the Native Americans realized how useful horses could be, they embraced them and made them an important part of their culture. Over time, large bands of wild horses formed in the West from those abandoned or those that escaped and ran free from the Native Americans, Spanish explorers, ranchers, soldiers, and miners.  From those horses came Mustangs numbering between two and four million in the mid-17th Century.  However, over the next three hundred years, the numbers reduced drastically from either natural causes or ranchers shooting the Mustangs to protect grazing lands. It took until near the end of the 20th Century for anything to be done to keep the Mustangs from going extinct.

Finally, Mustang enthusiasts and horse lovers in general decided to protect the magnificent Mustangs that are a symbol of America’s pioneer spirit of the Wild West.  In 1971, Congress passed the Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act. With that bill, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) became responsible for preserving and managing the wild Mustangs and keeping an eye on the ecological balance between wild horse herds, wildlife, and domestic animals grazing on western public lands. Today the number of wild Mustangs is believed to be at least 50,000.

Although Mustang enthusiasts believe all Mustangs should roam free, an alternative plan developed to save the herds from dying off or being killed. To help control the overpopulation of Mustangs, cowboys rounded up some of the horses and placed them in temporary holding areas or offered them to be adopted by horse lovers. This plan is still in effect today. But the one thing Mustang advocates are dead set against is selling the horses for their meat to dog food suppliers.

The BLM determines where and how many Mustangs will be kept as free-roaming animals. More than half of all Mustangs in North America are in Nevada (which features the horses on its state quarter coin). Other very large herds are found in California, Oregon, Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. Yet, another 34,000 horses are in government-run holding facilities.

The National Mustang Association (NMA), established in 1965, works closely with the Bureau of Land Management. They help place Mustangs in good homes of horse-loving people. Thousands of Mustangs have been adopted by patient owners, who have gentled and trained them for trail riding.

Training a wild Mustang requires lots of time and patience. After the horse learns to trust his owner, one of the first steps is getting the horse to respond to the bit in his mouth. Once he knows the bridle is to help him not hurt him, the Mustang learns to control his whole body depending on which way his rider reins the bit. Although the bit is only a few inches long, it can make a powerful, spunky horse obey!

The Bible tells us that our mouths need to be controlled just like the Mustangs’ mouths. Our words can get us into a lot of trouble.

Have you ever said something that was just plain mean or nasty? Do you lose your temper and lose control of your tongue?  God wants us to know if we learn to control our tongues, we’ll be better able to control our whole bodies. A sign of wisdom and obedience to God is learning to control our tongues.

So how is such a hard thing possible? The Bible says to think before you speak and always look for encouraging words to say. If you pray for God’s help and focus on being positive, you’ll learn to control your tongue and become a kind young Christian.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me control the words I say. I want to be kind to others. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

What should you do if you say something unkind to a family member or friend?

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The NMA has an Adopt-a-Horse-For-A-Year program.  The Mustangs in this program roam freely at the Barclay, Nevada ranch owned by the NMA.  This special place is a sanctuary for Mustangs and other wildlife.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you” (Psalm 32:9).








Today’s Horse Facts: The Morgan – A Firm Foundation

 Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Have you ever read Marguerite Henry’s book with that title about the man whose horse started the Morgan breed?

The Morgan: A Firm Foundation

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

(1 Corinthians 3:11)

(Check the website to see a picture of the Morgan)

             Justin Morgan Had a Horse. Have you ever read Marguerite Henry’s book with that title about the man whose horse started the Morgan breed?

Here’s another horse breed named after a person. The Morgan is one of the earliest breeds developed in the United States. It’s believed that Figure, the name of the very first Morgan horse, was owned by school teacher Justin Morgan, who lived in West Springfield, Massachusetts in the late 1700s. Someone gave the beautiful, little stallion to Justin for payment of a debt.

When Justin decided to enter Figure in a race, the man soon discovered his new horse could beat all others in any race. Justin had no idea what breeds comprised the lineage of Figure, but some folks assumed the horse had Dutch Friesian, Arabian, and Thoroughbred in him.

The importance of the Morgan horse in the history and development of many other breeds in America cannot be overemphasized. When Justin started to breed Figure, a line of excellent carriage horses, plow horses, and Pony Express mounts developed. All through the 1800s, Morgans also served as coach horses, for harness racing, and for trail riding. They also served as cavalry horses for the North and the South during the American Civil War, as mounts for pioneers going west, and for miners in the Gold Rush in California in the mid-1800s.

If you study the lineage of other major American breeds including the American Quarter Horse, Standardbred, The Missouri Fox Trotter, and Tennessee Walking Horse, you’ll find that the Morgan played a major role. In the 19th and 20th Centuries, Morgans found their way into other countries, including England, where a Morgan stallion became one of the foundation sires of the Hackney.

The Morgan is a handsome yet strong and muscular horse with a gorgeous thick, arched neck. He stands between 14.1 and 15.2 hands and comes in most colors including palomino and even some pinto, although multi-colored ones are rare. His popularity over the last two centuries centers on the strong foundation the first Morgan built, which led to a breed with many skills. Today he’s shown in all kinds of English and western shows, including western pleasure, dressage, show jumping, and endurance riding. He can be seen in driving competitions, including combined driving, carriage driving, and trail riding.

But there’s more! Because of their gentle nature and steady gaits, Morgans are often safe mounts for kids in 4-H and Pony Clubs.  They’re also safe therapeutic animals due to their calm disposition and easy strides. Morgans are certainly versatile…and popular. They’re so popular that two states, Vermont and Massachusetts, have made the Morgan their state animal.

Although Figure had a reputation as an excellent breeding stallion, there are records for only six of his male offspring, and only three of those were known as foundation sires for the breed. However, the breed is so popular, Morgan-only shows are held throughout the U.S. In 1973, the first annual Grand National and World Championship Morgan Horse Show opened in Detroit, Michigan. In 1975 that national show moved to its present home in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Over 1,000 horses compete in that show every year!

You might have noticed the word “foundation” reoccurring as we learned about the Morgan breed. A foundation is a solid base or structure on which other things are built.

Figure became the “foundation sire” for an entire breed. Thousands of other horses have their roots in that amazing horse. But do you know we as humans have a firm foundation in someone? That someone is the Lord Jesus Christ, the foundation of our faith.

When Jesus came to earth and died on the cross for our sins, He made it clear He was the foundation of our Christian faith. Without His sacrifice of blood on the cross and His resurrection, we wouldn’t have anything to base our beliefs on.

Sadly, many people around the world base their faith on false gods made of wood and stone that can’t hear, speak, or answer prayer. But we have a living God, who answers prayer and gives us peace in our hearts that we’ll have a home in heaven with Him someday.

If you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you have the best foundation you could ever have. With the Bible as your “behavior guide” and God’s promise of heaven someday, there’s no reason to ever doubt the salvation Jesus has given to you.

PRAYER: Dear God, I thank Jesus for being my Savior and being the foundation of my faith. I can always trust in Him and His Word, the Bible. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Have you ever asked Jesus to become the foundation in your life? Just ask him to save you and He will!

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Figure lived until 1821 when, sadly, he was kicked by another horse and later died from his injuries. He was buried in Tunbridge, Vermont.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands” (Psalm 102: 25).


Read about foster kid, Skye Nicholson, and her champion show horse, Champ,

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!

Today’s Horse Facts: The Missouri Fox Trotter – Dependable

Today the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known as everyone’s pleasure horse because of his gentle disposition and dependable, comfortable ride

The Missouri Fox Trotter: Dependable

(To see a picture of this horse, go to )

“Thy word is true from the beginning.”

(Psalm 119:160a)

When farmers, plantation owners, and ranchers started settling our newly formed United States, they looked for a hardy, muscular horse that could do ranch work yet take the family members on a dependable trail ride. So in the early 1800s, the settlers of the Ozarks in Missouri developed a sure-footed horse that could perform work including working cattle, plowing fields, and hauling logs. But that same horse had to serve as the family’s fancy buggy and riding horse in the evening’s activities.

The Missouri Fox Trotter, developed from horses from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, filled that need to the “T.”  Crossbreeding with Arabians, Tennessee Walking Horses, Morgans, American Saddlebreds, and Standardbreds made the Trotter smoother and stronger. This versatile equine, able to travel great distances at a comfortable five- to-eight miles an hour, made the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse a favorite of the country doctor, sheriff, traveling preacher, and rancher. In just a short time, the gaited Trotter gained notoriety for his stamina and smooth gaits.

In 1948, Trotter enthusiasts founded the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse Breed Association (MFTHBA) in Ava, Missouri with an open stud book that registered all horses with the fox trot gait and other specified physical characteristics describing the horse. Interest around the world grew, and the first Fox Trotters were exported to Europe in the 1950s when the Queen of England imported several palomino Trotters. The breed’s popularity increased to the point that Missouri Fox Trotters are now seen throughout the United States, as well as in Canada and several European countries. As of 2012 the MFTHBA had registered over 97,000 horses with over 8,000 members. It’s no surprise that the state of Missouri thinks highly of this unique equine. He’s so special that in 2002, the state honored the Missouri Fox Trotter by naming him the official state horse of Missouri.

Missouri Fox Trotters come in all colors, including spotted and buckskin. You’ll often see them with white facial and leg markings. They’re muscular and have sloped shoulders, a short back, and sturdy legs. They stand at 14 to 16 hands and weigh between 900 and 1,200 pounds.

Today the Missouri Fox Trotting Horse is known as everyone’s pleasure horse because of his gentle disposition and dependable, comfortable ride. He’s most known today for his ambling gait, the “fox trot,” a four-beat smooth gait in which the front foot of the diagonal pair lands before the hind pair. He’s in demand for use in all kinds of show classes including pleasure, trail riding, endurance, and cross country. Because of his surefootedness and endurance in rough countryside, he’s used by hunters and National Forestry Service rangers. You can often spot him in movies because of his gentle nature and willingness to work. Handicapped riding programs also use him because his smooth gait has proven to be beneficial for riders with minor physical disabilities. Wow! Would you agree “dependable” describes the Missouri Fox Trotter better than any other word?

Are you “dependable” like the Missouri Fox Trotter? If you’re dependable, you can be trusted to complete tasks you’re asked to do. Would your parent or teacher say you are dependable, or do you forget to do jobs you’re asked to do? A Christian should be dependable because the God we love and serve is dependable.

The Bible tells us that we can depend on Jesus to be our Savior. He shed His blood and died on the cross to save anyone who believes in Him. The Bible is also dependable. Every word of it is true, which tells us about our wonderful God and the home in heaven we’ll have one day. We have a God on whom we can depend.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being the God I can depend on. I also thank you for the Bible that tells me that believing in Jesus as my Savior makes me ready for heaven. In Jesus’ name, amen.

SADDLE UP!   (What would God have you do now?)

Think of some responsibilities your parent or teacher might want you to do. Then decide to be dependable and finish the tasks on time.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  Fox Trotters were the first horses to carry riders down the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV).