Jessica, Thanks for the fantastic information! Out at the barn where I board, your website is considered "the" place to get the best information. I checked the archives and found nothing about Norwegian Fiord horses. I'll try to keep the background information short and sweet; . One of my fellow boarders has the sweetest gelding. Tym's owner is in her late teens and is what we educators call a special needs person. When I first met her, she informed me that Tym is a bad horse because he bucks. Tym is especially bad because he is a boy and all boys are bad. When I saw the saddle they were using on him, I thought that I would buck too if they pinched my back like that. That was several months ago and Tym has been a pasture ornament. His owner comes and sees him once a week and it was obvious that he needed a brush-up course in ground manners. About four weeks ago, The owner's mother approached me about exercising Tym. I began longeing him and working on his ground manners. Two weeks ago, I was asked to ride him. Using my semi-quarterhorse tree Fabtron western saddle, I rode him. Our audience was ever so slightly disapointed in the lack of excitement on Tym's part. I have been riding most of my life. (At least over 40 years!) My passion is dressage and trailriding. I have a fantastic trainer and a dressage partner that keeps me riding correctly. I was not surprised at Tym's willingness and sweet disposition. This is a horse that thrives on having a job and praise. Because he is out of shape, we are doing a lot of walk and trot work (mostly walking). My trainer was able to observe one of our rides and I decided to ask for a third gait. This is my question: Are Norwegian Fiord's gaited naturally? If so, what is this mystery gait like? More importantly, how do I ask Tym for this gait? My trainer is as baffled as I am. My goal is to get his owner back in the saddle. Tym is your typical honest horse, he wants his job back. Most of the horse people I know and trust, have no experience ! with Fiords. Can you help us please????
I've had the pleasure of working with several Norwegian Fjords, and you'll be glad to know that the third gait is... wait for it... CANTER. A good Fjord will have three very clean, very pure gaits. That's not to say that an individual Norwegian Fjord may not develop some kind of additional "trail gait" - I find that many horses do that, regardless of breed. But don't let the exotic colouring and the traditional "Mohawk" mane trim fool you - you're dealing with an old, established, wonderful breed that typically exhibits a very pleasant and very clear walk, trot, and canter.
Like many other breeds, Fjords often prefer trotting to their other two gaits, particularly under saddle. If you think about it, this makes sense - it lets them go forward energetically and in balance, and avoids the problems caused by the less-than-perfect hands of riders who haven't quite got the balance to follow the horse's head and neck movements at walk and canter.
With all your experience, and your passion for dressage and trailriding, you sound like the idea person to work with and enjoy this horse. You are wise to be doing most of your work at trot until the horse becomes fit. Fjords usually have lovely energetic walks and strong, forward trots (and they LOVE to trot!). If he's a typical Fjord, when he's strong and coordinated and ready, you'll find that he has a very comfortable, balanced, and surprisingly long-strided canter. These are not big horses, but they are powerful and free-moving -- and some have a talent for jumping.
The Fjords I've known have also been sweet-tempered and steady - I think that you're really going to enjoy working with this horse.
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