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Fjord Horse International's mission is to host an international forum of member countries around the world

 

On this page you will find articles about breeding, use and regulations in the different countries where the beautiful Fjord Horse lives.

Fjord Horse International AS, why and how
by Arne Presthus

(You can click on the picture to view it in better quality !!)

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Maybe it started already in Hamburg in 1883?

This is the first time as far as I know that a Norwegian owned fjord horse has taken part in an international horse show outside Norway. We can by this state that the international interest among fjord horse breeders in Norway has a long story, and goes back many years.

But back to why we are here today, and how FHI became a reality.

My opinion is that it all started in the 1980’s.
Jon Hegdal had been leader of Norges Fjordhestlag for some years and already from his first days as a leader of Norges Fjordhestlag we experienced a more active and constructive management in the organisation and also towards the media.
This brought new optimism to the breeders and users of the fjord horse.

At the same time a new era started in the horse world in Norway. The government decided in 1984 to take the horse out of the military service, and they appointed a comity that should look into how to transfer the knowledge and leadership for managing the official part of the horse industry into the private sector. The government decided to use the old military camp at Starum for this purpose, and the foundation Norsk Hestesenter was established.

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Jon Hegdal was strongly contributing to the establishing of Norsk Hestesenter, both profession vise and politically.

On the picture Jon Hegdal and Anbjørg Sæltun (the leader of the comity that should shut down the horse part in the military) and I think he just convinced her to participating in the establishing of Norsk Hestesenter.

Norsk Hestesenter was established by 16 horse organizations on the 5th November 1985.

From earlier days, there had been some export of fjord horses as work horses to the smaller farms in Europe, especially then to the North Sea states, and Poland.

It was still a lot of studbook known fjord horses in these countries, and the same happened there as here, the horse was not any more in use in the agriculture and the official parts redraw their participation and gave it over to private foundations to do the job.

As a curiosity:
I found the following article in the Norwegian fjord horse magazine, that the two stallions Orrjo and Leidejo were placed on board a Boing 747 with course for USA.

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And at the same time a cargo vessel left Rotterdam with 8 fjord horses on board with course for Australia, but this 8 was sold from Holland. And I think a distinguish gentleman with the name Bob knows more about this.

On the next picture is a mare that was bought by the Norwegian Mercedes importer and given as a gift to a couple in Germany.

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In 1986 Norges Fjordhestlag together with tourist organization travel agents and tourist related companies founded “Fjordingstiftelsen” (The Fjording Foundation) which should have as one of it’s goals to market the fjord horse as one of the Norwegian official symbols, and preferably replace the lion’s in front of the parliament building with fjords.

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The artist Raudberget made a lithography that was casted by representatives of Norges Fjordhestlag on a fjord horse gathering at Langedrag (The wolf farm of Edvin K. Thorsen).

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There where printed 1000 numbered pictures signed by the artist. This lithography’s was sold and donated to companies, embassies, and private persons.
This was also a way of promoting Norway as a tourist country and there where made souvenirs with fjord horse motives, and some of this are still for sale.
On this picture you see the Mayor of Oslo The fjord horse Eik and Grethe Weize.

Never has so many ambassadors been gathered in Oslo Town Hall as on Friday 24th April 1987. And that is thanks to the Fjord horse. Said the Mayor of Oslo, Albert Nordengen on the picture together with Grethe Waitz, when he wished welcome to the Fjord Horse meeting in the Town Hall gallery.
(Photo: Johan Berge, NORTRA).

The Norwegian fjord horse is about to place the world before his feet.
The Norwegian Fjordingstiftelsen (foundation) marked on Friday the 24th April 1987 the fjord horse success as an export article by giving several countries ambassadors a lithography of a fjord horse.
The picture shows from left the new ambassador from Soviet Union, Kommissarov and the USA’s ambassador Robert D. Stuart on each side of the main object the fjord horse. (ntb-foto Sigurdsøn)

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Above: Ronald By and the fjord horse Eik on the main floor at the Hotel Sheraton in Oslo in connection with a campaign for Norwegian souvenirs production and their quality.

During a press conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Oslo Jon Hegdal said:

“The numbers of fjord horses in Norway was so few that it is difficult to run an efficient breeding policy. He then pointed at Holland who got there first fjord horses in 1955 and had since then built up a bigger breed than we have today, and they are exporting fjord horses to many countries in Europe and they have yearly delivery to USA.”

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Over these years Norges Fjordhestlag got a better relationship with other fjord horse countries. Sweden and Denmark was well known, but with Holland, USA, Belgium and partly Germany it was established better contacts over these years. On this picture from 1986 there are 10 nations represented.

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Above: In 1989 we had an international fjord horse meeting at N.Eid and it was discussed if we needed an international organization.

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Phil Prichard from the United States contacted Hegdal and wanted to buy 40, 2 years old fjord horses and has them sent on one plane load to the states. This was called “the big lift”.

This was a big operation for a small organization as Norges Fjordhestlag, but thanks to Hegdals optimism and determination to carry this through, the deal was done and in 1988 40 fjord horses was loaded on a plane in Oslo and flown to USA.

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Hegdal had a great network with many countries by know, and it was arranged trips to USA for judging fjords from the “big lift” and others. He arranged trips to Holland for their jubilee shows and to Denmark and Sweden.

All this international activity actualized the demand of an international fjord horse organization, and after the Rio treaty decided that all breed should have a mother country this was even more actual.

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The fjord horse congratulated the king of Norway with his 80th burs day, and at the same year fjord horse statue at the show arena at N.Eid was raised.

Norges Fjordhestlag had just been through a big investment in establishing Norsk Fjordhestsenter. I think it is correct to say that it is utterly Jon Hegdals work that resulted in Norsk Fjordhestsenter being established, and this both Norges Fjordhestlag, Eid municipality and Norsk Fjordhesenter has benefitted from since. Economical this was a heavy financial investment for Norges Fjordhestlag.

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Jon Hegdal in USA in connection with making the film Fjordhesten i Vesterveg.

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Jon Hegdal receives the Kings Medal of Merits in Gold. For his work for the fjord horse. Promoting it in Norway and abroad.

As mentioned Norges Fjordhestlag received some request from buyers abroad who wanted to by fjord horses. Mostly this was breeding horses, stallions and some mares, and also a few working horses. Norges Fjordhestlag looked at this, as a possibility to help there members to sell some horses out of the country, and as the home market was quit dull this was an opportunity to give a helping hand to the members with marketing, export papers transport etc.

The Norwegian export Council was very active looking for new export markets for Norwegian products, and in this connection our secretary Judith Hegrenes got the idea to ask the Norwegian Export Council for grants in connection with marketing the fjord horse abroad.
The Export Council could not give us direct grants for this work, but they could finance a study to investigate the possibility for exporting fjord horses to Europe and overseas. At the same time the actuality for an international organization had increased a lot, so Norges Fjordhestlag accepted the offer from the Export Council, who engaged Trond Håvik from the company Bedriftsutvikling Vest to do this study for them. Håvik and his company was established on Nordfjordeid. He was approved from the export council to do such studies for them, and he also had some local knowledge about the fjord horse and the organization.
Trond Håvik contacted all the European fjord organizations, and also visited them and interviewed their leaders, secretaries and so on in order to get an idea about a potential market.

To make a long story short he concluded positive and found that there might be a market for selling more Norwegian bread fjord horses to these countries, but also it came up that there where a demand for buying Norwegian harnesses, buggy’s (karjols) and sleigh etc.
Based on this report the export council could give a grant for establishing a company, but they could only give this to a shareholding company. This was the reason for establishing the first international fjord horse organization as a share holding company and not just as an association.

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At the same time Norges Fjordhestlag received an invitation to participate at Equitana in Essen together with the German Fjord Horse Association IGF. The invitation came through Erhard Martin living at Nordfjordeid. Erhard Martin and the leader of IGF Reinert Kunz knew each other from before. Erhard and some members from Nordfjord Fjordhestlag made an application to Norges fjordhestlag.

Norges Fjordhestlag, Norsk Hestesenter, Norsk Fjordhestsenter and local fjord horse organizations under Norges Fjordhestlag together established in August 1997 Fjord Horse International AS (FHI). This was the first establishing of the share holding company and there where only Norwegian shareholders at first.
The first chairman of the board was Per Aksel Birkeland.

The foreign organizations and some private members was invited to join the company at an extraordinary General Assembly and share capital expansion held on the ferry between Oslo and Kiel in December 1997. On this General Assembly a new board was elected and the undersigned was elected chairman of the board.
Here the rest of the international organizations signed for their shares.
Holland did not join before some years later.

This is in brief and after my memory the foregoing history of how and why Fjord Horse International AS was established.
For the years Fjord Horse International AS was run as a shareholding company I find it difficult to comment on any special affairs, but would just like to mention that when the border between East and West was opened, Europe was invaded by low cost horses from the former east European countries, and even if the boarder opened in 1989, it was during these years that pressure on the horse market really was felt by the European breeders.

For the company’s operation period I would refer to the GA’s annual reports and accounts. The accounts was done by an accounting firm at Nordfjordeid, and audited by a government approved audit company.
As it normally happens in “big international shareholding companies” when you can not present positive results, the chairman is asked to step down, and the rest of the board in connection with the biggest shareholders will look for a replacement.

The next chairman was Hans Kolbein Dale, and he did a good job in changing Fjord Horse International AS to Fjord Horse International Association.

FINAL WORD

When looking back on this period of time, from the late 70ths until today (2011) I like to believe that the decisions made during this years, at their time was vice and correct, and was all for promoting the fjord horse breed in Norway and abroad, and although none of this companies/institutions has been economic self sustained they have all contributed to the fact that we today have.

Norsk Hestesenter that has taken over the general management of educating horse people and overview the breeding of all breeds in Norway.

We have Norsk Fjordhestsenter who is together with Fjordane Folkehøgskule an important education factor for young horse people, and also an important arena for executing working tests for breeding stallions, varies competitions, breeding shows and a breeding station for frozen and fresh semen.

We have Fjord Horse International Association as the international organization for the fjord horse breed especial, who’s aim is amongst others, to keep the fjord horse as a typical breed according to the guidelines in the Norwegian description of the breed.

I hope that the people who in the future shall lead this organizations will take some of the history with them, but mostly look forward and use the organizations to the better for the fjord horse breed and the people who love this breed and is deeply devoted to it.

Ølve 17.04.2011 and Ølve 20.04.2017

Arne Presthus

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