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 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fjord_horse 

“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).

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

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!

http://amzn.to/2nPbZ5q

 

Today’s Horse Facts: The North Swedish Horse – Not Enough Good Can Be Said About Him

The North Swedish Horse is a small, heavy horse originating from ____?___ You guessed it: Sweden. Equine enthusiasts consider him a coldblooded draft horse, but he can also be a harness racer if his build is lighter.

The North Swedish Horse: Not Enough Good Can Be Said About Him

To see a picture of this horse go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Swedish_Horse  

“To you it was shown, that you might know that the Lord Himself is God;

there is none other besides Him.”

(Deuteronomy 4:35 NKJV)

The North Swedish Horse is a small, heavy horse originating from ____?___ You guessed it: Sweden. Equine enthusiasts consider him a coldblooded draft horse, but he can also be a harness racer if his build is lighter. He also has an impressive energetic long trot, which makes him popular for that kind of racing. (In harness racing the horses race at a specific gait. They must trot or “pace” but can’t canter— run fast. One driver reins the two-wheeled cart called a sulky.)

The North Swedish Horse’s roots go back to his neighbor, the Norwegian Dølahest. (The Dølahest is a strong, reliable draft horse from Norway.) North Swedish Horses had been crossbred with other breeds until the 19th Century when the North Swedish Horse Breed Society created its standards for a more distinct body shape for the breed.  The society returned to the horse’s roots, using Dølahest stallions from Norway, and in the early 20th Century, the society also introduced tough performance tests for all breeding studs.

Today, the line of the North Swedish Horse is strictly controlled with breeding stallions that are all thoroughly tested. To qualify, a stud must have a pleasant character, must be strong enough to pull heavy loads, and must be able to breed. The horse’s legs and hooves are even examined by X-ray to test for strong legs.

Because the North Swedish Horse is so cooperative, he’s very easy to train. Although his build is compact and hardy yet light for a draft horse, his strength and stamina outweigh his “dumpy” look. He’s tough and spunky, but he’s also known to be cooperative and willing to work, so the Swedes use him for farming, forestry work, and recreational sports like pulling and hauling. Being born and raised in the harsh climate of Sweden, he’s known for good health and a long life.

With all the positive qualities of the North Swedish Horse, it seems as though we almost have a near-perfect equine that stands at 15.1 to 15.3 hands. The most common colors are solids: blackish brown, smoky, and yellowish black, but any solid color can be found. His dumpy body shape might remind you of an overweight pony with a big head, long ears, and a short, thick neck. His mane and tail wave thick and abundant in the wind. Yet, despite his plump build, he requires little feed and is a very active horse. A farmer might use his North Swedish Horse during the week for plowing but on Saturday enter him in an endurance race at the local fair. Besides this equine’s reputation for being a strong draft horse and racer, his easy-going manner makes him a favorite of children. Not enough good can be said about this horse loved by children and adults alike.

Have you ever heard the term “not enough good can be said about someone”? Has anyone ever said that about you?

Do you know we can say that about the wonderful God we love and worship? We can’t say enough good about God because He is perfect, and He’s the only God. Can you imagine never making a mistake or never doing the wrong thing? He made the vast universe, and He made us. Now Jesus is preparing a special place called Heaven for all those who believe in Him as their Savior. That’s how special our God is, and He’s worthy of our praise and adoration. Thank Him today for being the One and Only Perfect God who never makes a mistake.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for being the one, true, perfect God, who loves me so much. Thank you, Jesus, for making a way for me to go to Heaven some day and be with you. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of some things you notice in your life or in the Bible that show that our God is perfect and magnificent:

(SIDEBAR 1:)

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The North Swedish Horse is one of very few coldblooded breeds used in harness racing.

(SIDEBAR 2:)

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?) “As for God, His way is perfect;
the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him” (2 Samuel 22:31 NKJV).

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

and their exciting adventures in the Keystone Stables Series!

http://amzn.to/2nPbZ5q

Today’s Horse Facts: The New Forest Pony – An Unusual Mark

If you cross the Atlantic Ocean and travel to the area of New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, you’ll find where the New Forest Ponies originated and still live today.

The New Forest Pony: An Unusual Mark

(Go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Forest_pony to see a picture of this equine)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Against such there is no law.”

(Galatians 5:22-23)

If you cross the Atlantic Ocean and travel to the area of New Forest in Hampshire, southern England, you’ll find where the New Forest Ponies originated and still live today. For several thousand years, they’ve been known as one of the most recognized mountain and native equines in the British Isles. As with many pony breeds, New Forest Ponies started their careers as “pit ponies” in mines. Fortunately because of their gentle nature, intelligence, and versatility, they soon became a favorite pet outside the mines. Today the New Forest Pony and similar crossbreeds are still the folks of that region’s favorite choice for getting a hard job done.

Although their height is only about 12 to 14.2 hands, they’re strong, surefooted, hard workers and great for trail riding. Many of these equines are so strong, adults as well as children can ride the taller ones. The ponies also can be driven in harness competition and sometimes even win against larger horses. New Forest ponies also are used today for dressage, gymkhanas, show jumping, cross-country, dressage, and eventing (considered the most demanding of races for both horse and rider. It originated with well-trained cavalry horses, which had to cover rough terrain and obstacles while running at full speed.)

New Forest Ponies are usually bay, chestnut, or gray. They can’t be piebald, skewbald, nor blue-eyed cream, and only geldings and mares can be registered if they are palomino or very light chestnut. They may have white markings on their head and lower legs, but they can’t have white behind the head, above the hock on either hind leg, or above the knee in either one of the front legs.

What’s so interesting about these ponies is they graze freely on the New Forest territory and are owned collectively by New Forest commoners. Those people, under the direction of five agisters (managers or caretakers), have specific rights to a certain section of the Hampshire pastures. However, the people must pay a fee to turn out their ponies to graze. In this “semi-feral” condition, thousands of New Forest Pony mares and a few geldings run loose most of the year. The stallions must be registered to keep the line pure and are turned out only for a limited period in the spring and summer during breeding season.

The success of this program is due to the agisters, who take responsibility for the ponies. Every year, they have a round-up and check each pony’s health. Then they worm and “tail-mark” each one. Tail-marking is the cutting of the pony’s tail in a specific pattern unique to each agister. The tails are cut either in three jagged steps to the left or the right, in cuts on both sides half way up the tail, or with a cut half way up the tail to the right. By looking at any pony’s tail, you can immediately identify the agister who cared for that equine and his region of New Forest. If you’d see any of these ponies, you might chuckle at the way the tails are cut.

The New Forest Pony Breeding and Cattle Society has been publishing the stud book since 1960. New Forest ponies have been exported all over the world, including to Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. Many other countries have their own New Forest Breed societies and stud books. As of 2011, there were 4,604 ponies grazing on the New Forest. In 2014, the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) conservation group listed the New Forest pony as a minority breed because less than 3,000 breeding females were documented.

Regardless of the numbers of New Forest Ponies in the world today, they can be immediately identified by their tail markings. Those unique tails tell everyone the agister who marked them and from what part of New Forest they came. That mark or strange way of identification lets everyone know these proud ponies are from Hampshire, southern England.

Speaking of marks or identifications, can others tell you are a Christian by the “marks of the Lord Jesus” on your life?

If you’re a Christian, you should have the marks that identify a Christian. Those marks are called the “fruits of the spirit”: love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness are some of those marks. The Holy Spirit helps you develop those excellent character traits when you’re willing to follow His commands.

As you grow in your Christian faith, those around you will notice the “new you,” and will identify you as a young person with the marks of a true Christian.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me be willing to obey so that I can have the fruits of the Holy Spirit and have the marks of a Christian on my life. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of three fruits of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) and how you can display those “marks” to those around you. (Example: Love – I can write my mother or teacher a note, thanking them for loving and helping me):

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  If a pony fits all the qualifications of a New Forest, but he has blue eyes, he can’t be registered.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV).

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Today’s Horse Facts: The Miniature Horse – He’s for Real!

Here’s a beautiful little equine that, although he’s tiny, is the exact replica of the larger horse breeds.

The Miniature Horse: No Doubt He’s for Real!

(To see a picture of a Miniature Horse, go to Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniature_horse)

“I’m writing these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God. I’m writing so you will know that you have eternal life.”

(1 John 5:13 NIRV)

Here’s a beautiful little equine that, although he’s tiny, is the exact replica of the larger horse breeds. In fact, he’s so much like the big guys, if you’d see a Miniature Horse standing in a pasture somewhere, you might think he’s just a statue of a larger horse.

The Miniature Horse is just that—a horse, not a pony. We can trace his history back to the 17th Century in Europe when kings and nobles admired such different horses and sought to raise them. But many other Miniature Horses, or “Minis,” who weren’t fortunate enough to live in a king’s barn worked as “pit ponies” inside mines. Sometimes those poor little horses lived inside the mines and never saw the light of day. The English began using ponies in their mines after the Mines and Collieries Act of 1842 prohibited the use of young children.

The first small horses in the United States date back to 1861, when a tiny-horse enthusiast, John Rarey, brought four Shetland Ponies, one only 24 inches tall, to our country. Throughout the late 1800s and into mid-1900, more Minis came from English and Dutch mines to work in coal mines in the U.S. Then in the 1960s, horse lovers as well as the general public developed a real interest in Miniature Horses, which, fortunately, brought the Minis out of the mines and into sport and show competition.

Over the years as more interest grew in the Minis, they were crossbred with other breeds such as the Hackney for a more handsome look and more nimble footwork. Although almost all Minis can’t be ridden even by children, they’re still very popular and are used in all kinds of competition such as driving, obstacle courses, and halter. Because they’re so small, easy to keep, and interact well with humans, many Minis have important jobs. They’re often kept as family pets, (although the Minis still have “horse” traits), and they also can be trained as service animals, doing the same things that dogs do who work for folks with special needs.

So how tiny is tiny? Take a yardstick and stand it on end. That’s about the height of a Miniature Horse. Because they’re so small, they’re measured in inches not in hands. Any color or combination of colors is acceptable, so Minis come in a large variety of splashy colors, including palomino, pinto, and even a cross between a pinto and an Appaloosa called a “Pintaloosa.”

You can find two registries in the United States for Miniature Horses, the American Miniature Horse Association (AMHA) and the American Miniature Horse Registry (AMHR). Founded in 1978, the AMHA started establishing the Miniature Horse as a distinct breed. Today there are dozens of miniature horse registries all over the world. Some of the registries want the breeding of Minis to keep horse characteristics, while other associations want their Minis to have pony characteristics. Along with all these different general Miniature Horse associations, there are also registries for specific types of Minis, such as the Falabella and the South African Miniature Horse.

Minis are healthy animals, often living longer than some full-sized horses. The average life span of Miniature Horses is from 25 to 35 years. Minis have become so popular all around the world that their associations have more than 12,000 enthusiasts in over 30 countries.  For those Mini lovers, there’s no doubt the little equine is a horse in every sense of the word.

Doubt. In our lives, doubt can surface at any time. Have you ever doubted it would stop raining for the family picnic? Or have you doubted whether you’d like the new broccoli casserole or not? Maybe you’ve doubted if you’d ever finish your tons of homework in one evening. Or maybe you’ve doubted if you’ll ever get that puppy or pair of sneakers you want so badly. But there’s one thing you should never doubt.

The Bible tells us when we accept Jesus as our Savior we should never doubt our salvation. When we become Christians, that doesn’t mean we’ll never sin or make mistakes again. It also doesn’t mean we aren’t Christians anymore. All God wants us to do is ask for forgiveness, and He does forgive. God’s Word says we only ever have to ask Christ into our lives one time, and from that moment on, we never have to doubt that we are Christians ever again.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank you for giving me eternal life that can never be taken away from me.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

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

Think of  anything that might cause you to doubt whether you’re a Christian or not. Ask God to forgive you, and He will. Remember, once a Christian, always a Christian.

Take your ride: (Do you know?)  The AMHA has nearly 230,000 registered Miniatures.

Dismount and cool down your horse! (Do you know?)  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” ( 2 Timothy 3: 14-15 NIRV).

DO YOU WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DIFFERENT HORSE BREEDS?

THERE ARE OVER 300!

I ONLY SHARED INFORMATION ABOUT 60 IN MY NEW BOOK….

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