Norwegian Fjords are clearly distinct from other breeds in their appearance, but also — even more importantly — in their temperament and versatility. We are committed to preserving these breed characteristics.
We are also deeply committed to preventing rescue, including not adding to the existing and overwhelming number of horses in rescue. That may seem to be in conflict with breeding at all, but Norwegian Fjords are a very unique breed of horse — when properly bred to existing breed standards, Norwegian Fjord horses meet the demands of people and organizations whose needs absolutely cannot be met by adopting rescue horses. That doesn't mean that Fjords are immune to winding up in rescue — although it's unusual, they can and do — and we take that very seriously. A portion of our sales is donated to Fjord rescues (both Canadian and US).
From over 45 years of animal breeding experience and 35 years of animal rehab and rescue, we can tell you:
• It costs the same to feed a fun and easy individual as it costs to feed a challenging or difficult individual ... and, invariably, the cost is less to house the cooperative individuals.
• It costs more (a lot more) to feed unhealthy individuals
• Rescues (and slaughterhouses) are overwhelmingly populated with those challenging and/or difficult and/or unhealthy individuals.
• Many if not most of the challenging and difficult and unsound individuals produce mostly more of the same. These individuals should not be in the breeding pool.
• Training can make or break a placement, and also future placement prospects for any animal should it be necessary to sell that horse again after it leaves its birth home. A good foundation of in-hand training is a vital responsibility of the breeder.
Temperament — Nobody enjoys a fearful or unconfident or dominant (control freak) horse ... including the horse! Our first priority when making breeding choices is to pursue pairings most likely to maintain or improve confidence as well as willingness to be with and do things with humans. A Fjord friend who prioritizes being as gentle and conscientious as desired or required under tack is a priceless gem.
In the case of extraversion / introversion, one person's nightmare can certainly be another's dream horse. As with type (below), we aim for the middle of the Fjord spectrum, which means a "left brain introvert", but not radically so. The complexity of traits that comprise "temperament" is never inherited as a package; avoiding the extremes and aiming for the center means adequate extra / intro variety will result organically ... something for all human preferences, just not all in the same horse ... and that's a good thing! We humans are not all alike, either.
Type — A Fjord should be a Fjord! The Fjord standard from the mother country Norway has succeeded in producing distinctive horses that are sought after. That standard works, and it should be used to provide any Fjord breeder with their essential framework and foundation for selecting and evaluating their breeding stock and production.
The North American Fjord standard does recognize a range of body types, from "drafty" to "sporty". Lost Creek Fjords' goal is to aim for the middle of that spectrum, with emphasis on functionality. We don't need (or want!) to re-learn the lessons that history has already amply taught — versatility and health are compromised whenever extremes of type are actively pursued — and although "stunning looks" are overwhelmingly attractive at first, capability is more valuable (and most truly beautiful) in the end.
Talent — As long as the horse is confident and is fully willing to allow the human half of the partnership to define the parameters of mutual activities (temperament first!), there is no such thing as "too athletic" or "too talented"! A Fjord friend capable of expanding, not limiting, the horizons of the human part of the equation is an amazing opportunity for anyone — truly a long-term equine partner to grow and learn with.
Our primary measure of talent is quality, ease, and harmony of movement. Ideal movement tells us that conformation and physiology are working together successfully for balance, versatility, and soundness over a lifetime. Unlike some animal breeders who also focus on movement, we do not consider unnatural or eye-catching extremes of movement to be good in any species, but rather an indicator that something is out of harmony with the whole.
All the talent in the world is useless (or even dangerous) in a horse who is fearful, unconfident, or dominant. Breeding for temperament first means a horse's innate talent can be expressed and actualized.
We're not big breeders ... we started small and now we're MICRO
It takes quality time to raise a solid young Fjord citizen. We enjoy providing that time personally, right down to providing all basic training, hoof care, and trail outings. Matching our few Fjords up with their people is what makes the effort to breed worthwhile at all — for us.
Time is finite for everyone; we make different choices for our time than some. Our broodmare numbers are low. We don't own a stallion. We don't breed every year. We take the time it takes with each foal according to his or her needs, including a longer retention time post-weaning for both healthy herd socialization and getting those all-important foundation skills totally solid.
So, no, we can't provide a selection of pedigrees or colors or many foals for one-stop shopping convenience. And no, we can't provide career broodmare prospects — our foals grow up assuming their humans will give them daily attention and do fun things with them regularly.
What we can provide is the occasional well-adjusted foal or young horse to the occasional right-fit (and lucky!) human who is seeking a prospective Fjunicorn friend.
At first glance, it might appear to some that we are breeding "for" red dun Fjords ... because we have two red dun mares. Although we breed with aspects of color in mind, we are definitely not breeding for color. A brief explanation:
The Fjord standards around the world specifically provide for the preservation of the rare (recessive) colors. But ... genetics is reaaaaally interesting ... and complex in reality! In order for the "rare color" Fjords to be preserved let alone come up to achievable breed standards instead of being poor-quality novelties, breeders who own any of the rare color Fjords (or even Fjords who carry one copy of any rare color gene) need to pay close attention to the unwanted traits that — although not part of the color gene itself — tend to be inherited along with a particular color.
Sometimes observed trait grouping has to do with the physical location of the color modifying gene on the chromosome, a phenomenon known as genetic linkage. Red, for instance, is close enough to the locus controlling white markings that the two traits often end up being inherited together in all equines, not just Fjords.
Other times, observed trait grouping is an inevitable byproduct of the difficulties inherent in any recessive rare trait preservation without the assistance of modern DNA testing options: Precisely because rare traits are recessive (and vice versa), there has been far too much reliance on the far too few obvious (that is, homozygous) sources of those traits. Even with careful (but non-DNA-informed) attention to breeding choices, the undesirable flaws incidentally found in that small ancestral pool are given outsized opportunities to perpetuate along with the desirable rare trait. Thanks to the availability of DNA testing, the latter issue no longer needs to be a problem for modern Fjord breeders.
Our choice to have red mares is partly good fortune (the opportunity to acquire Winny in the first place, and then the unexpected opportunity to repurchase Chestry). It is also an acknowledgement that — because we really get a lot of joy from having red duns — it is smarter for us to have red dun mares and breed them to the overall best-match stallions regardless of likely foal color or color genome rather than to put ourselves in the position of wanting red duns and then having that desire potentially (uh, probably — we're only human!) drive our breeding choices unwisely at a conscious or subconscious level ... not to mention feeling like we're cheating ourselves when any resulting red dun foals then move on to new homes.
We acknowledge that we incur a higher level of responsibility in our pre-breeding research and eventual breeding choices due to owning and breeding our red dun mares. We do pay close attention to the flaws that historically are linked to red in Fjords (especially any that we detect in our own mares) and we do our best to choose stallions that neither express those flaws nor have them in their immediate ancestry or progeny.
Rare color Fjord quality improvement cannot be accomplished in one generation, nor by one farm, nor in one lifetime. If we can leave the red dun Fjord population (including Fjords of other colors that carry the red gene) even a bit better than we found it, we will have done something worthwhile.