Thursday, October 6, 2011

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 7

Norwegian Fjord horse and woman from Hardanger, Norway, ca 1900

I have just a few postcards and pictures of these wonderful creatures one of which appeared previously in Postcard Thursday, 6, last week. We have three pictures I have found so far that show our family owned some of these horses.

“Pil” and Lars Stensland at Gåseflå, ca 1905
[photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

Here we see close ups of the farm hand Lars Stensland holding on to the Fjord horse, 'Pil' and in the picture below, although it is blurry, we see Notto Mikalsen Hornnes in the wagon with the horse hitched up and ready to go to work.*

Notto Mikalsen Hornnes and Fjord horse hitched up, ca 1870
[photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

Lillejordet farm in near Ulefos, Telemark, Norway with horses in the field, ca 1900

Lillejordet was the farm belonging to I.C. Lee's father, Kristen Rollefsen Lillejordet.** Here we can see the horses working in the field with the farm houses and people in the background. There is even a flagpole and flag. Many of the houses and farms in Norway do display the flag in this manner.

Horse and rider
[photo courtesy of Alf Georg Kjetså]

This cropped version of a picture that previously appeared in the blog is a good example showing the size of the horse in comparison with the rider. I cannot tell for certain if this is a Fjord horse. The color and markings seem correct but it is definitely large enough to be considered a horse not a pony.

Fjord horses were much coveted and used on the farms in Norway and are still used today although mostly to haul tourists around in carts or a bridal couple in a small horse drawn buggy.

Current day postcard showing tourists riding in horse drawn carts near Birksdal glacier.

Norwegian Fjord horses are a special breed and are sometimes referred to as ponies because of their size but they are considered horses even if they are smaller than the normal cutoff for height. They are small but very sturdy and strong, capable of carrying a human and pulling heavy loads.

Most Fjord horses are dun colored although there are five shades that are recognized by the breed registry. The most common color is brown dun but as you can see from the picture, Pil, looks rather darker in color, although that may just be the quality of the photograph. These horses are one of the oldest breeds and have been used for hundreds of years as a farm horse in Norway. It is thought that they have been around since the last ice age and were domesticated over 4,000 years ago. They have a good temperament and can be used with harness and saddle. Although the mane does grow long it is usually trimmed or roached so that it stands up in an attractive manner that also accentuates the horse’s neck. The short mane helps to keep the horse looking well groomed. The ears are small and the eyes are large. Their coat becomes heavy and thick in the winter.

Fjord horses pulling sleds filled with logs, early 1900s, most likely in Telemark

You can see how sturdy they are in this picture as they pull a load of logs through the snow.
This next card looks as if the photo was taken at a farmer’s meet or fair where the horses may have been judged, bought and sold.

Fjord horses at farmers fair in Telemark, Norway, early 1900s

In the last card all we can truly see is the shadow and the horse’s legs and hoofs but we also see the back of the wagon and a girl in a Setesdal bunad, light cream colors this time instead of the usual dark colors but still with the traditional bands of brighter colors at the waist and at the hem.

Setesdal girl in cart, ca 1900s

I love the look of these little horses. They remind me of the ponies that the Hobbits used in The Lord of the Rings.

For more information and pictures of Norwegian Fjord horses you may want to check out



* Gåseflå is located in Hægeland, Vest Agder, Norway. Lunnen farm is in Hornnes, Aust Agder, Norway.

** Lillejordet, as noted, is near Ulefos, Telemark, Norway. An abbreviated form of the farm name Lia is where I.C. and his brother, A.C. took their American surname of Lee.

The Lees are from my maternal line and the Hornnes/Gåseflå families come from my paternal line.

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