The Norwegian Fjord has been used for many generations as a farm horse in Western Norway. They are a smaller type of Draft horse, built to withstand cold weather and frigid elements. They have at times been called the “Golden Retriever” of the horse world as they tend to be very social, friendly horses. Fjord’s are typically seen being used for Dressage, sometimes Jumping, and driving events. They also make exceptional therapy horses and can often be found at a therapeutic riding center. This is a breed that tends to be very inquisitive about new things and newcomers. They usually aren’t shy around people, preferring to be in the company of others who will love on them and show them attention and affection. The mane of a Fjord is unique, the inside is dark and the outside is light and it is often cut so that it is short and sticks straight up, as seen below. Typically the outer white hairs are trimmed shorter than the inner, dark hairs. It is trimmed in a crescent-like shape to emphasize the strength and beauty of their powerful necks. Fjord Horses aren’t very common in the state of Michigan. These two Fjords here are full brothers and can be found at the Beekman Therapeutic Riding Center in Lansing, Michigan. Oulav, the one pictured here, is around 21 years of age and used for therapeutic riding. His brother, Colby, with the cut mane, is around 26 years of age, and in the early phases of retirement from the therapy program. Both horses display the common characteristics of the breed. They are strong, they are kind, they are sociable and they are hardy horses. The brothers have been together for their whole lives and can often be found grazing together and grooming one another. Colby is more food driven and enjoys coming into the arena for lessons because he knows lessons mean treats. Oulav also enjoys food, as can be seen below as he finishes an apple. Oulav is newer to the program but he’s quickly picking it up and learning to enjoy his job as well. Oulav is taller than his brother. Colby stands around 15.2 hands and Oulav stands a couple inches taller than that The tallest horse is Sully, a Quarter Horse gelding who stands 16.2 hands high, but Oulav isn’t much shorter than that. These two Fjords are the cornerstone of the therapeutic riding program at Beekman. Colby has been serving his community and bringing smiles and laughter to the lives of children and adults alike for years. There is something about those big, brown eyes, that seem to swallow you up into a warm embrace and that soft, velvety nose as it nudges you that makes you feel safe. I have witnessed many a student wrapping their arms around his big, thick neck and burying their faces in his fur. I myself have wrapped my arms around his strong neck during days where emotions are running high and the tension from the day’s events is overwhelming. I never tire of visiting with him, going out to the pasture and watching as he ambles over, going at a pace only Colby can go. He nickers softly and nudges my hand, wanting his face rubbed. He is a gentleman and a sweetheart and the community will forever appreciate all he’s done.
Oulav has also been becoming quite the gentleman, thanks to Natalie’s great training. He is no longer a fearful horse, but a sociable gentleman as well. While he is still wary of those he doesn’t know well, he has come a long way from when he first started. I am proud to know both these remarkable souls and be able to have been a part and witness to the joy they have brought to so many lives, including my own.
Colby was laid to rest this past Sunday, he touched many lives, including my own. Although our hearts our heavy with this loss, we are also happy to know that he runs freely in God’s heavenly pastures. This post is dedicated to Colby, may he forever Rest In Peace in God’s warm embrace.