WRITTEN by PIA HALLENBERG of The Spokesman-Review
SPOKANE — When Ben Finnoe and his daughter Samantha, 12, first encountered Norwegian fjord horses at a neighbor’s barn four years ago, something clicked. Finnoe was not a horse person, but the dun horses with their spiky manes and laid-back attitudes won his heart on the spot.
“My heritage is half Norwegian – maybe that’s why I liked them so much?” Ben Finnoe said, glancing at his wife, Holly Finnoe. She shakes her head a little.
“He was all gung-ho about buying the horses – I was a little more careful,” Holly Finnoe said.
Today, the couple own nine fjord horses, the oldest being a 31-year-old mare and the youngest being one of two foals born on their property near Mount Spokane. Together with their five children, they have become full-on fjord fans.
And this week they’re driving a huge new trailer with two horses, a carriage, tack, horse food and grooming essentials to Pasadena, Calif., where they are going to be in the Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1.
“We have done parades together before, but never something as big as this,” Holly Finnoe said. “We are very excited about it.”
The Finnoes belong to the Pacific Northwest Fjord Promotional Group, which is part of the national Norwegian Fjord Horse Registry. The national registry applied for the spot in the Rose Parade, got it, and then called the Finnoes and asked if they would like to go.
“We just couldn’t say no,” Holly Finnoe said. “We had to go.”
They’ve been training extra hard with the two geldings, Deilig, 6, and Indi, 10, to get them ready for the parade.
“When we started doing this we really didn’t know what we were doing,” Holly Finnoe said. She laughs. “I guess we were two green horse people buying two green horses.”
They quickly realized they needed help from trainers as they were learning how to handle the horses, as well as riding and driving them.
Fjord horses are one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. Their remains have been found in Viking burial sites, suggesting that they have been bred selectively for more than 2,000 years.
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“Horses have been a part of the Rose Parade for 125 years“, Pasadena Star-News, Dec. 31, 2013.