To drive a trek like this, you need a good team!

I had to give some serious thought to the team of horses I needed to make this trek.  First consideration:  one out of every 30 women who has radiation treatment for breast cancer winds up with a breast that remains tender to the touch.  Lucky me, I get to be “the one”.  So that means I’m not throwing harness on a pair of 18hh Clydesdales!  Second consideration:  I’ve never driven a horse in my life!

Those are two fairly significant considerations!  *grin*

Okay, so I knew I couldn’t get Clydesdales or Percherons or Shires.  They are all so huge that I’d kill myself getting the harness on them each morning and off again each evening.  I knew I couldn’t get a smart looking pair of Arabians, because they’d be too hot for me to handle.  Hmmmmmm.  What did that leave?  In terms of the breed, they needed to be small and cold blooded.  As to their training, they had to know it all because they would have to train me!

It didn’t take me long to figure out that I needed one of two breeds:  either Norwegian Fjords or Austrian Hafflingers.  They are the only “draft ponies” that I am aware of.  And while Hafflingers are beautiful with their flowing flaxen manes and beautiful blonde bodies, here in Canada, Hafflingers are a bit like hens’ teeth.  That left the unmistakable, unflappable Norwegian Fjord horses.  I’ve always had a soft spot for them.

I started looking for a pair of well trained Fjords in the winter of 2007/2008!  While they aren’t as rare as hens’ teeth, they don’t exactly grow on trees either.  I looked and looked and looked.  I even looked in the USA.  I could find babies.  I could find horses trained to drive single.  I found one team (that didn’t have the Fjord horse’s signature black stripe) that was well trained but out of my price range, another that was the right price, but only green broke and a third that was part-bred Fjord — calm, well trained, but lame.  I put the word out to every Fjord breeder in western Canada.  And then it happened.

I got a call back Anna Middleton.  She is a Fjord breeder.  “Jane, I think I’ve found your team!  They belong to a couple named Roy and Bev Tornberg.” At that point I had been looking for about 8 months, so I was skeptical.  I phoned the Tornbergs, who invited us to come see “the boys”.  They live in Battleford, Saskatchewan.  Off we went.  It was love at first sight … or should I say, love at first drive?  They let me drive them around a rutted field in the rain without complaining once and they had been standing, harnessed, waiting for us to arrive for 5 hours!  They drove so beautifully, I wasn’t even nervous!

I am in love with our team.  They are a pair of registered Norwegian Fjord geldings — full brothers — very closely matched — and as patient as the day is long.  Roy did a wonderful job of training them.  (And, as I found out later, Anna Middleton did a wonderful job of breeding them.)

“Troll” is the older brother.  He turns 12 this year.  Apparently the Norwegians don’t think of trolls as those nasty little creatures I learned about back in elementary school.  (You know: the little gremlins that jump out from under a bridge and eat young children.)  In Norway apparently a troll is looked on much as the Irish view their leprechauns.  My Troll is like that.  He’s the more mischievous of the two.  Slightly smaller.  Prettier head.  Nicer mane and tail.  Just a little quicker in that he wants to get the show on the road.  “Bror” (Norwegian for “Brother”) is slightly larger.  Better built.  Friendlier.  The voice of calm.  Bror will be 11 this year.

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2 thoughts on “To drive a trek like this, you need a good team!

  1. I got to meet these gorgeous horses!! I couldn’t believe how calm and friendly they were. you definitly lucked out Jane!!! It’s all meant to be…

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  2. Aaah, Brandie! Luck had very little to do with it, hon. Bror and Troll are EXACTLY like a Fjord horse is meant to be. That’s the beauty of purchasing purebred animals. There is a general look and a general “horse-onality” for most breeds.

    I have read that the completely unflappable personality of a Fjord horse comes from the fact that the original animals were taken on barges up the fjords of Norway to where they would be used as farming animals. If a horse were too high strung, it would wind up jumping off the barge and drowning, so only the calm ones survived. From that, the breed was born.

    But you’re absolutely right on one thing. This was meant to be — and it’s going to be legendary! *grin*

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