Lost Creek Fjord Horses is owned and operated by Jim Krowka and Gwen Ingram, and is located south of Dexter, Oregon along the banks of beautiful Lost Creek, where we have bred, raised, and trained Classic pack llamas since 1986. (Click here to visit the Lost Creek Llamas website). In addition to llamas, we've had horses, ducks, geese and cats with us for all those years, too (although our remaining ducks had to be rehomed in early 2022 as a result of repeated predation by a bald eagle).
The beginning of Lost Creek Fjords
When the first of our two retired Arabians passed away, we set about finding new equine companions. We knew we wanted hardy, moderate sized horses (13.3-14.0hh +/-) that could be kept barefoot; Fjord horses certainly were on the short list right away.
We were totally unprepared to discover just how radically different and unique the Norwegian Fjord Horse temperament and disposition really are. After all, the promo lit for Every. Single. Equine. Breed. touts how “smart” and “calm” and “versatile” and “athletic” and “long-lived” and “people-oriented” that breed is. Typical advertising copy, ugh! We were stunned to find out that Norwegian Fjords REALLY ARE all that — and more! No animal is “born trained” nor an instant best friend nor 100% safe. Norwegian Fjords are as close as it gets for equines.
Our training and husbandry philosophy
Our horses and our foals are handled and trained to be partners and respectful friends, using Horse Speak®, modified natural horsemanship methods, age-appropriate activities, and individualized timetables. They are kept together as a herd in a bare-ground track paddock for weight control and hoof health, and enjoy daily turnout time for grazing and cavorting in larger pastures. Keeping our horses together means extra time and effort for us to meet differing nutritional needs, but it's worth that effort in exchange for keeping our horses fitter and healthier overall, and most importantly, for letting our horses be horses for the overwhelming majority of their time with us.
We typically retain our foals a bit longer than "industry standard" in order to provide them with much more individual evaluation and training as well as a longer natural socialization period. Separating young horses into groups by age is very common on breeding farms; it's labor-efficient and fiscally cost-effective. But herds of like-age horses do not mirror any natural horse herd structures, and there is a cost to the young horses for growing up in "tween/teen gangs".
Our choice to keep weanlings and yearlings with the herd allows our young Fjords every opportunity to develop physically AND it means that corrections for social blunders and manners lessons happen in the moment of transgression, meted out properly by mature horses. This continual natural herd lifestyle gives our youngsters a solid foundation in life lessons, and thus a higher likelihood of their next home being a successful and permanent one with a well-matched (and ecstatic!) human partner. This is exactly what we've always done with our llamas; it's our comfort zone, and we've experienced decades of positive results.
Above all, our guiding principle is to put our horses' physical, mental and emotional wellbeing first. We do our best to stay fit, and we actively pursue continuing education for ourselves. Our horses are our friends and our partners (we do retain 51% of the "vote"!); they are never tools nor toys nor ego-boosters. If a horse is physically capable (even exceptionally talented) for a particular career but is truly not mentally and emotionally comfortable doing it, we're not about to force (or sell) them into servitude. Conversely, if a horse enjoys something despite having physical challenges, we accommodate them within safe physical limits. If a horse needs further development (mentally or physically) and/or specialized bodywork to access more of their potential, we accommodate that, too — and always at their pace.
What we do with our Fjords
First and foremost, we enjoy our Fjords' companionship every day!
We primarily trail ride, which — as any trail rider knows — places significant mental, emotional and physical demands on the horses. We also greatly enjoy playing at liberty with one or more horses at a time — something we can do nearly every day, right here on the farm, even on days when time is limited or the weather can't decide what to do. Our new (2020) 80' x 128' grass-surface outdoor arena has opened up whole new worlds for us and our Fjords, from liberty and in-hand work to ridden physical and mental development. Unfortunately, we do not live in a year-round riding climate and we aren't well-off enough to be able to afford a covered arena ... so even with the site improvements we are fortunate to have, all of our riding is strictly seasonal.
We used to be very successful in performance (and halter) competitions with our llamas, but we're done with the competitive world now, where fleeting and artificial recognition from humans (whose priorities are out of sync with ours) just impedes our journey — we'd rather strive for top marks from our animals all the time. When we do consider entering formal or organized events with our horses, it's strictly for the opportunities those venues might present to further our horse-human relationships.
We also very much enjoy introducing other people to Fjords.
How breeding Fjord horses fits into our lives
Because yearly Fjord births in North America (and in most countries worldwide) had been running below replacement rate with genetic diversity in jeopardy, we initially stepped up and bred our (then) two mares rather than letting their prime reproductive years pass by.
Now there are more purebred Fjord foals being born each year in North America. Additionally, at least six young stallions closely related to our current mares have become available for stallion service or have begun actively contributing to the gene pool between 2020 and 2022. As such, breeding our mares no longer enhances genetic diversity in the US and Canada. This is definitely good news for the gene pool. It also removes any urgency or responsibility on our part to breed, which is totally fine with us — responsible animal breeding is a time-consuming and expen$$$ive endeavor ... and it entails risks.
We will be breeding only for ourselves in the immediate future, with the goal of filling out our own next generation of personal riding horses and prospective broodmares. Colt and gelding sales may result due to our preference to retain fillies, but that's not guaranteed by any means. After Winny's reproductive retirement, we project we will pause both llama and horse breeding while we address some much-needed infrastructure improvements that will be vastly easier to accomplish without juggling construction around the logistics of breeding and birthing. Then, once facility repairs and enhancements are done, we will be in a solid position to re-assess how breeding should fit into our lives going forward.
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