California Riding Magazine • January, 2008

Nordic Sporthorses
Fjord crosses offer big possibilities in small, affordable and versatile packages.

Starting their own small breeding business wasn’t Ellen Johnson and Kristin Nibbe’s motivation when they went looking for Fjord horses in Washington three years ago.

The longtime Central California horsewomen were looking for the right horse to give a friend on her 45th birthday. The friend had a Nordic background and all three women shared an interest in this and other ancient breeds that came from their involvement with the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a non-profit educational group that loves all things Medieval.

Nordic Sporthorses’ stallion, Impakt.

A purebred Fjord exceeded their budget, but mares produced at a Washington ranch by Canadian Sporthorses and Fjord-crosses were perfect. The facility was a PMU ranch and a dude ranch where the babies produced were bred for work as rent string replacements. “We knew they were good horses,” Ellen comments. Their year-long search culminated in the purchase of three mares: one for their friend and two for themselves to use as extra mounts for visiting riders.

Ellen and Kristin soon realized they’d found more than a birthday present. “We kept running into people who liked our mares and said they wished they had something like them,” explains Ellen, whose equestrian life up until then was focused on Arabians and Thoroughbreds. “These horses have Warmblood movement, but in a smaller size.”

Filly Brenna.

Both Ellen and Kristin are graduates of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where they earned degrees in animal science with a horse specialty. As more people commented on their dun and grulla colored mares, Brega and Sky, lightbulbs went off in the women’s minds. Nordic Sporthorses was born and established at North Wind Farm in Creston. “We thought people might be interested in a horse that moved like a Warmblood but was smaller and less expensive to both buy and maintain,” Ellen explains. “These horses have great temperaments. They are hearty, with great feet and legs.”

Averaging 15.1 to 15.2 hh and 1,000 pounds, these sturdy and versatile equines are super easy keepers, reports Kristin. “Once they are through their growing phase, they’ll get fat on dirt!” The Fjord crosses don’t need shoes, Ellen asserts, and their smaller size usually means fewer wear and tear problems and a longer working life.

Filly Lysa.

Adding Impakt

With their foundation mares in place, Ellen and Kristin didn’t have to look far for a stallion. After a successful test breeding of her now 10 year old Arabian, Impakt, Ellen felt confident that his temperament and conformation would be a great match for the Fjord-cross mares. Impakt (Berdo x RD Koshana) is a 15.1 hh chestnut from Russian and Polish racing lines. Lingering stifle injuries from a nasty encounter with a mountain lion dashed Ellen’s competitive hopes for this horse, but he is more than making up for that as a stallion.

Impakt now has six foals on the ground: three are purebred Arabs and two are the offspring of the Fjord cross mares, Brega and Sky. These babies are now 2 and are registered and Sweepstakes-nominated with the Arabian Horse Association, as is their sire.

Mare, Sky.

Based on their body types and lively, but grounded dispositions, Ellen predicts these fillies, Lysa and Brenna, will grow up to do just about anything and everything. Lysa seems well suited for dressage, three-day eventing and/or combined driving, Ellen observes. “When she was two days old, she cleared a 14” jump, going uphill, of her own accord and just for fun.” The line has plenty of athletic ability, she adds, but their temperaments are not the type that will use that ability to fly over the pasture fence or off the handle in the arena when being ridden.

Although they inherited calm temperaments from both parents, the babies are “not dead heads,” Ellen says. “And they are built with uphill conformation, so collection will not be a strain.”

NWF Shining Star.

Ellen and Kristin won’t start these horses under saddle until they are 3-and-a-half or 4, but both have had plenty of handling. They have been saddled, bridled, groomed, blanketed and free lunged, and the rest of the time are learning Mother Nature’s lessons through growing up in large pastures in a herd environment. “They are not hot house flowers!” Ellen assures. “They are used to hills and trees and are learning where their feet are.”

Solid starts for all of its babies is a major reason Nordic Sporthorses plans to stay a small breeding operation. “We want to be able to spend enough time with each baby, giving them a good grounding and good ground manners. And, we are going to be a little picky about what homes they go to.”

In addition to the two Fjord-cross youngsters, Nordic Sporthorses also has two of Impakt’s pure-bred Arabian fillies for sale, as well as a 14 year old registered Arabian gelding, who is a veteran english, western, dressage and trail mount. The farm will offer Impakt to outside mares in the near future. Ellen anticipates his stud fee will be $1,000.

For more information on the currently for-sale babies and future Fjord crosses, call Nordic Sporthorses at 805-543-3688 and visit the website: