The North Swedish horse was bred to be a strong, gentle worker that did not need a lot of food in order to keep on working. Because of the trotting ability, a lighter version was developed from it which is now called the North Swedish trotter. The two breeds look a lot alike, although the trotter is slimmer.
Although originally bred for agricultural work and to haul heavy loads long distances, the modern North Swedish Horse can do just about anything. There are North Swedish horses that haul logs for the timber industry, North Swedish horses that are ridden in jumping competitions and North Swedish horses that pull stylish sleighs. However, many North Swedish horses wind up in slaughterhouses for meat.
When Sweden needed horses for agriculture and cavalry, they looked to the horses used by knights in armour. Bonnie Hendricks, author of “International Encyclopeida of Horse Breeds” (University of Oklahoma Press; 1995), theorises that there was a Scandinavian heavy horse breed since the Middle Ages and possibly even earlier. The Dole of Norway is another breed closely related to the North Swedish.
When the English Thoroughbred was introduced to Sweden, suddenly everyone wanted to cross their horses with them. The native breeds became unfashionable. The Armed Forces even preferred half-breds for their size and mobility. But some purebred hung on. The North Swedish officially began in 1894 when a group was formed to preserve the breed, Sodra Dalarnes Horse Friends. The first stud book came out in 1909.
Norway’s government used to buy the best stallions available and offer their services at low process to the locals as well as breeding and raising their own horses, which would be offered for sale. This Stallion Rearing Institute in Wangen began in 1903, but the Institute closed its doors in 1996. Wagnen not bred and sold the horses, but put them through strength testing, where they would haul heavy sleds or wagons at an expected speed. The registry is now called, in English, The Breeding Association of North Swedish Horses.
This is a medium-sized chunky horse that rarely grows to 16 hands high. The mane and tail are abundant. The top of the hindquarters tend to be at an even level with the withers. They have deep chests and rounded hindquarters. They often have very attractive heads with wide eyes full of sparkle and a straight profile. The breed tends to have strong legs and a high-stepping trot.
The most common colors are various shades of bay, chestnut and dun. Rarer colors include grey, palomino, buckskin and black (sometimes called “blue”.) White markings on the head and legs are allowed.
“The Ultimate Horse Book.” Elwyn Hartley Edwards. Dorling Kindersley; 1991.
“International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds.” Bonnie Hendricks. University of Oklahoma Press; 1995.
The Breeding Association of North Swedish Horses. “The North Swedish: The Versatile Horse.”