Scandinavian horses have been spotted on the land since the last ice age. Various horse breeds have been used in farming, showing, and pleasure riding. Most of them make excellent companions because of their calm nature. In this article, we’ll explore the history of the most popular horse breeds from Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Learn more about the fascinating history of Scandinavian horses
Here’s a list of Scandinavian horse breeds that you should know about.
1. Swedish Ardennes
The Swedish Ardennes is a breed that is descended from the Ardennes draft horses. This horse breed has never been used for military purposes. Because it was deemed too small and weak to be of any use in war. The horse was bred in the 19th century for agricultural purposes.
This Scandinavian horse breed stands at 14 hands (56 inches) high but can grow up to 16 hands (64 inches). It weighs between 800-1100 pounds (360-500 kilograms) with an average weight of 900 pounds (400 kilograms).
The Swedish Ardennes is most known for their ability as an endurance runner. This horse breed’s running gait is so smooth that those who first saw them thought they were floating across the ground touching down on hooves!
Such horses are known as long-livers. Their lifespan goes up to 30 years. If compare horse years to human years this is equal to an 88-year-old man. The body is compact and hardy. The head is small with little eyes. The neck is thick and short. The legs are short and have feathering. The common colors are black, chestnut, and bay. The Swedish Ardennes is intelligent and good-tempered.
2. Scandinavian Coldblood Trotter
The Scandinavian Coldblood Trotter is a draft horse breed. Scandinavian Coldblood Trotters are descendants of the Friesian, Clydesdale, and Shire breeds. They were brought over by immigrants to Scandinavia in the 1700s. These horses were primarily used for farm work. Soon after, Coldblood Trotters became popular as harness racing horses during WWII when gas was limited.
Today, you can see the Scandinavian Coldblood Trotter outside their native countries. As the breed’s bloodlines have been exported throughout Europe and North America. Coldblood Trotters are usually bay, chestnut, or black. White markings on the face and legs are allowed by the breed’s registry.
The average height of the Scandinavian Coldblood Trotter is 15.1 hands (60.4 inches). The horse stands high at the withers (main ridge along the upper back). Scandinavian Coldblood Trotters typically weigh between 1000 and 1200 pounds (454-544 kilograms). They’re well proportioned with a long neck that’s slightly arched and deep through the chest. The head of a Scandinavian Coldblood Trotter is well chiseled with large eyes. Their small ears are set high on the skull and good width between each eye.
The Scandinavian horse breed’s temperament can vary based on their use in work or sport. Generally, these horses are intelligent, well-mannered, and willing to work. That’s beneficial for equestrians who’re looking for horses for long-distance races and endurance rides.
3. Fjord Horse
The Fjord Horse was developed in the mountains and coastal areas across Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Iceland. This cold-climate horse is known for its heavy build as well as an active temperament.
Fjord horses have been used to plow fields. They were first domesticated over 4,000 years ago. Nowadays, these Scandinavian horses are still utilized for farm work. But mostly, you’ll see a Fjord Horse being ridden during sports events. These include dressage competitions and long-distance races like the Nordkapp ride (an endurance race from Paris to Northern Cape).
The Fjord Horse is defined by the thick winter coat. It covers the horse’s short legs with strong joints and good bone structure underneath it all. Fjords also come with broad backs and chests. Their bodies are compact and strong. All Fjord horses are of a dun color.
Fjord horses have an average height of 14 hands (56 inches) but can grow to 16 hands (64 inches) high. The average weight of the Fjord Horse is 880 to 1100 pounds (400-500 kilograms).
Being a hard worker with good instincts for farm work, the Fjord Horse is quite versatile. These Scandinavian horses enjoy human interaction and attention from their owners. Such horses are gentle, playful, and docile.
4. Dole Trotter
The Dole Trotter is a Scandinavian horse breed from Norway. The Dole Trotter was developed in the 19th century. Local Nordic breeds were bred with Oriental horses such as Hackneys and Arabian Horses. This draft horse breed was used as a pack horse and for agricultural purposes. The breed is known for its ability to work under harsh conditions and pull heavy weight.
The breed’s characteristics include strength, speed, agility, endurance, and intelligence. Dole Trotter is a versatile horse breed. It makes the horse suitable for harness racing and riding sports. The Dole Trotter took part in the creation of the North Swedish Horse. The goal was to develop a lighter horse that is suitable for harness racing.
As for the conformation, the head has a straight profile line without any dished face similar to the Arabians but smaller. The neck is of medium length proportionate to the body while being thick at the base (which differs from other Scandinavian breeds). The lower legs have feathering.
The average height of a Dole Trotter is 14.1 to 15.3 hands (57 to 63 inches). The weight ranges from 1190 to 1390 pounds (540 to 630 kilograms). Dole Trotters are quite intelligent and curious horses.
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5. Danish Warmblood
The Danish Warmblood was developed in Denmark during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It was bred by crossing European stallions and Danish mares. The breed is used for dressage, show jumping, combined driving, eventing, and endurance riding.
The Danish Warmblood has a strong square-built body with an average height of 15 hands (60 inches). The average weight is 880 to 1100 pounds (400-500 kilograms).
The head is straight or slightly concave on the profile with big eyes. The horse bears a thick neck without any crest at all. The Danish Warmblood features short sloping shoulders and a deep chest along with good bone quality. Especially in its legs which are free from featherings. However, the limbs appear quite bulky due to fleshy skin folds called boxy warts found around their knees above the cannon bones.
The Danish Warmblood is the most popular in Denmark and Sweden. It’s known for its calm temperament and high spirit. Such a breed is easily trained. The common colors include black, bay, chestnut, and brown.
You may also like to read: Scandinavian Elk
The Fascinating History of Scandinavian Horses – The Final Word
Horses are fascinating creatures, and no one knows them better than the people of Scandinavia. The cultural heritage includes not only the Dala horse from Dalarna. The history of Scandinavian horses goes back centuries before most other breeds were even discovered. The equines have been used for farming, transportation, war, and companionship.
Some of the breeds are well-known all over the world. Due to their excellent temperament, Scandinavian horses are top-notch companions for humans. You’ll find them advantageous in most aspects of our lives.
The Fascinating History of Scandinavian Horses, written exclusively for Daily Scandinavian by David Garcia. David considers himself a huge fan of equestrian sports. Being born in a family of farmers, he was literally living at the ranch. His first riding experience was when David was six. He was so fascinated with the grace and intelligence of horses so he decided to plunge into equestrianism deeply. Thus, he’s been participating in a range of horse races and shows where he often grabs medal positions.
David believes that we could be better by sharing our experiences. That is why he founded Horsezz – a blog that is dedicated to equestrian sports.
Feature image (on top): Horses on a meadow in summer. Photo by Nilsgh / Pixabay