The Artisans of Morocco

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This post will be about the artisans … and their hands.  As I said earlier, the Moroccans do not like their pictures taken, many believe that a photograph will rob their soul.

The good news?  They didn’t mind if I got up close and personal with their hands.

Color, Texture, and Detail.

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The above pictures were taken at an overview by the side of the road.  I’m sure the views were beautiful, and I’m sure I took a shot or two …

… but these are the images that speak to me.

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Knives, Scissors, Tools

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The Tannery

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The Tannery …. my most favorite shoot, and my most disappointing results.  We traversed the tannery from high to low and everywhere in between.

It was very cool!

The man above is scraping the fat from a hide.  Imagine lifting these soaked skins from one vat to another, again and again.  It is literally back breaking work.

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Upon arriving the Tannery we were greeted with a sprig of mint …

this was to hold close to your nose.

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I know these are not artisans in the true sense, but I could not hold back,

from you, this amazing place.

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The Potters and Clay Workers

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Ground work for a mosaic.

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  When the crowd had moved on, I returned to take unobstructed and diligent photo’s.

 I could have stayed here longer …

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Walking thru the alleys in the Fez Medina, we came upon this artist ….

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…………………

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The Place Saffarin derives its name from the manufacture of copper metal which is used to make traditional crafts, this profession has been practiced in the city of Fez for centuries.
There are many products made by artisans like pots, pans, buckets, incense burners, trays, teapots, tea and sugar boxes, footed, strainers, kettles, couscous steamers…
”  google

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It was Good Friday when we visited Place Saffarin. For a moment I was taken back, I thought this man had ashes on his forehead .. ?

  Then I realized the mark was from his prayer mat …

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The Textile Area

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A Dye Shop

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Leather Goods

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There are many artisans in Fez and Morocco preserving  their traditions …

My only regret is that I hadn’t thought ahead and made the conscious effort to photograph all of the talented hands, preserving tradition, that I came across …

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Medinas & Landscape of Morocco

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Casablanca

This time around I traveled with the photography group, DPM.  Digital Photo Mentor. DPM is a Canadian outfit run buy 2 professional photographers. I researched quite a bit before I signed up with them and they hit the nail on the head!

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Casablanca

Daniel, as we were introduced to him, was our pro, but it wasn’t too long before Daniel morphed into Danny!

Danny’s photographic skills are innate, his ability to teach and explain were simplistic, and his patience wears long  …  I am a self taught photographer and I shoot strictly manual, I know what I know and I am very comfortable with it, I like to be the one in control … Well, Danny opened my eyes to the beauty of the digital camera.

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Casablanca

A Medina is an old fortified city within a city, typically walled with many narrow and maze-like streets

‘The Medina’s of Morocco have a way of drawing in visitors to explore the labyrinth of alleys, shops, craftsmen, and life itself. While those dark streets, shady characters , and the haggling shopkeepers can be daunting, follow some simple rules and you’ll have a wonderful time in Morocco’s souks and Medina’s.’

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Above is a perfect example of the long and narrow walkways, unfortunately it allows for little natural light. Most times I was shooting with a film speed, or ISO, of 4000 and above, and at times I found it hard to focus in on my subject.  With my new found knowledge I was able to save time fiddling in the dark…

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Chefchaouen

In the upper right corner you can see the wall that surrounds the old city of Chefchaouen.

Chefchaouen is called the Blue City, and here is why:

‘The color blue is representative of the sky according to Jewish belief. Jewish communities therefore paint things blue and use blue-colored fabrics, especially for prayer mats.

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People believe that the Jewish refugees spread the blue fever to the entire ‘Medina’ in 1930. The practice of painting walls blue was introduced by the Jews to stick to their religious practices. However, older residents say that the majority of the buildings within the Medina used to be white until fairly recently. They stress that only the Jewish part of the Medina used to be painted blue.’  wiki

So there you have it …

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This is a view from my hotel room, you can see the Medina wall on the left hand side.

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‘The second-largest city in Morocco sits in a valley between the Rif and the Middle Atlas Mountains. Whether you’re on a rooftop or a surrounding hillside, the view of minarets among a sea of satellite dishes, more than 13,000 white tombs in the Jewish quarter, and the open, Paris-influenced streets of the Ville Nouvelle illustrate how the passing of time has made its mark on Fez without diminishing its medieval heart.’  Bloomberg

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Fez

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 the white Jewish tombs

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Fez, Morocco from the roof top where they sell the flying carpets…  This shot has a clear view of the Medina wall that surrounds the old city of Fez.

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‘Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco founded by Idris I in 789, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine Medina of Fes el-Bali, which is incidentally also the world’s largest car-free urban zone and home to the worlds oldest university.  Fez is considered the religious, cultural, and handicraft center of Morocco.’   wiki

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You can see the Medina wall top and center in the above image. You can also see hundreds of satellite dishes …   Of all the cities and Medina’s we visited, Fez was my favorite. I have much more to show and tell you about Fez, but they warrant their own post.

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‘Much of Morocco’s landscape is mountainous with slopes that gradually transition into plateaus and valleys. The Atlas mountains dominate the central part of the country, while the Rif mountains make up the northern edge.

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Jebel Toubkal is the highest point of Morocco at 13,664 ft (4,165 m), and is also the highest peak of the Atlas mountains.

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The southeastern region of the country is blanketed by the Sahara Desert, the world’s third largest desert at over 3,600,000 square miles (9,400,000 sq. km).’  wiki More on the Sahara later …

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Marrakesh.

Yes, I realize that I bit off more than I can chew. I cannot sum up these fascinating cities in my own words, I had to plagiarize…

‘Marrakech marches to its own beat. The former imperial capital is as manic as Mardi Gras and as hip as Hollywood. Throw yourself in at the deep end by exploring the twisting alleyways of the medieval medina.  From glassware to brassware, silverware to lacquerware, the souks (markets) brim with a bewildering array of handicrafts – but you’ll need to haggle hard. Apothecaries tout herbal remedies and heap coloured spices into perfectly shaped pyramids while, in the main square of Djemaa El Fna, the pyramids are comprised of humans.’  wiki

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The colorful markets in Marrakesh.

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These stands are put up each day around 3pm, this city comes to life in the evening and into the night.  Each morning the square is hosed off, cleaned and ready for the next show.  I don’t know how they do it.

As you will see, the Moroccans are very hard workers …

 

Moroccan Food Markets part 3

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There is a funny story behind this photo.  Daniel, our pro, and I went to the markets later one evening to photograph something … anything.  We set up shop in this corner and waited.

Here they come …. !

These feisty youngsters scurried by us wagging their fingers and repeating  NO NO NO NO NO!  I couldn’t help but laugh, and by the looks on their faces, they couldn’t understand why I was laughing …   I would have loved to have chatted with them .

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The markets are everywhere,

 the food is amazing.

Fresh is an understatement,

and color is lavish.

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‘A tagine is an important part of Moroccan cuisine and has been a part of the culture for hundreds of years. The word tagine actually has two meanings. First, it refers to a type of North African cookware traditionally made of clay or ceramic. The bottom is a wide, shallow circular dish used for both cooking and serving, while the top of the tagine is distinctively shaped into a rounded dome or cone.

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Secondly, the word tagine also refers to the succulent, stew-like dish which is slow-cooked in the traditional cookware. Typically, a tagine is a rich mixture of meat, poultry, or fish, and most often includes vegetables or fruit. Vegetables may also be cooked alone in the tagine.’  wiki

  A few more ingredients the Moroccans love are:  Couscous: steamed semolina

Chickpeas and Lentils

Cumin, curry, cinnamon, and garlic are also a staple.

 

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Breakfast was a variety of breads, cheese’s and jams.  Eggs were offered, but I think mostly to please the tourists.

I connected with the breads …

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I see the eggs, and I like the eggs.  But does any one see a mermaid with a Felix the Cat face?

Felix, the wonderful, wonderful cat.

I’m not sure if the face is drawn on the pillar or if it’s just wear and tear.

I just noticed it, now I can’t see the eggs.

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 There are 52 varieties of olives in Morocco.  Our first stop was in Casablanca. This city houses an amazing olive market, unfortunately the day we were to visit was a Friday.  Fridays are a main day for prayer and they were closed, but not all shops close as a rule.

I am sorry we missed it, not only would it have been amazing , it would have been a great way to get reacquainted with my camera, shooting how and what I love.

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This is Abdul, we were regulars.

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The Fish Market ….

The man above was cleaning his morning catch, eels… and below we have a shark on the table .

  Did I mention the food was fresh?

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The weigh station photo is a favorite of mine, but I haven’t pinpointed why.  Maybe it’s because it’s so unlike my style …. If you scroll up and down again you will notice most of my images go from left to right, or right to left, and the focal point is defined.

Evolution, all good.

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and a sense of humor….

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All of these photos were taken inside the ‘old city’s’ of the towns we visited. They call these old city’s  Medinas.

‘Encompassed by towering walls, the medinas are filled with narrow streets, tiny alleyways, market places and historical mosques. The purpose of each medina was to keep out invading armies, and each medina has its own unique story to tell.’   wiki

Soon to come so please stay tuned …..

and thank you very much for viewing my ‘photography blog’.

Michelle

 

 

The Faces of Morocco – Part 2

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The Faces of Morocco.

Photographing the Moroccans was not an easy feat. Many of them believe that their souls will be robbed.  I tried a number of times by raising my camera and smiling, trying non verbally to get an OK, but the odds were against me.  I took the shot whenever I could, and most times with their approval.

Driving thru the mountains we came upon this sheep herder.  Ali, our amazing guide, asked this man if we could photograph him. As you can see he was delighted.  I know we made his day, and he made ours!

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At another stop, where we captured the views, there was a man playing his recorder.

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Morocco is made up of the Sunni Muslims and Berbers.  Berber is derived from the Roman term for barbarians.  Berbers are a non-Arabic tribe, however, throughout the centuries the Berbers have mixed with many ethnic groups, most of them being Arabs.  Both of these men are of Berber descent.

Below, his reaction to the photo ….

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Abdul was a merchant at the same stop …. also a Berber.

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The way I choose to travel is with photography tours.  You mingle with the locals and see and experience more than a normal trip would include.  It’s a history class with benefits.  One of the benefits was to photograph models under different settings, creating different moods. I tried to capture something … anything.

The 1st man is an artist and he is the caretaker of a very famous and historical home. I apologize for not remembering where, but if I can’t pronounce it ….

The second gentleman was at another historical site, also the caretaker.  He had a personality when no one was looking…  He tucked me right under his cloak and gave me a big smooch on my cheek.

My friend Cathy got the shot !

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Nomads.  Berbers.  This stop fascinated me.

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 I had to show you the outside and the very cozy inside. The little girl who lives here was darling and smiled at her photo. The mother was also lovely.

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A guard and his camel …. I like this one.

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Our escorts, via camels, to our tents in the Sahara … These two men are also Berbers. Berbers do not read or write. They refer to themselves as “free men” and have survived by raising herds of grazing animals, driving them from place to place.

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These gentlemen are dressed in their native attire to sell water.  Unfortunately, they now exist for the tourists to photograph.  There were 4 ‘water men’ that day, but these two caught my fancy.  The other two men were about 30 years younger, no wrinkles, and way too many teeth …

and last, but not least …

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George, Cathy’s camel, old and cranky!

and …

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… a Singe Magot

Morocco has launched a rescue plan to protect the macaque macaque, or Barbary macaque, a monkey weighing about 55 pounds. They live north of the Sahara.  I was about 5 feet away … they are used to having humans around, but one must still be aware.

Thank you for reading and viewing, and please stay tuned for more …!

Morocco, and all it’s wonders … part 1

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Morocco, April 2019

‘Morocco’s location has dictated its history:  Every major European power felt the necessity to control the mouth of the Mediterranean at one time or another. Each left its mark.  Following centuries of Arab and occasional Berber rule, Morocco became a protectorate of France in the early 1900’s; it gained independence in 1956.’

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This North African nation has the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Algeria to the east, and Mauritania to the south.  The terrain ranges from coastal plains to mountains and deserts. The Atlas Mountains average 11,000 ft in elevation.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to this country, and I love to write about what I photograph…  Morocco has many sides and facets and I plan on sharing each one in its own post.

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The Faces of Morocco, my first love

This man was one of our camel jockeys and is of Berber descent. And that in the background is the sand of the Sahara …

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The Markets:

  Never buy the item for the price that is suggested by the seller… you must bargain.

I’ll admit that wasn’t my strong suit, but I was always happy with my purchase.  There are many more markets to explore thru my lens …

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The Foods:

  There are 52 varieties of Olives in Morocco. The olive is a staple in their diet and every meal was served with olives.

  Lamb, chicken, meat, fish, carrots, potatoes, and couscous are typical of the main ingredients. Spices like cumin and paprika are added to these dishes, all of them are delicious!

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The Artisans:

Someone who does skilled work with their hands… and there are plenty.

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The Sahara: 

Camels and more camels . ATV’ing, sleeping, and dancing under the stars …

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The Tannery in Fes

Another favorite shoot …  Imagine lifting those soaked hides from the vat, one after another, only to do it again in the next solution.  I will explain in more detail when the time comes.

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The Pottery Factory in Fes

Visiting the pottery factory was another highlight. Shooting for color, texture, and detail … the up close and personal that I love.

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The Streets of Morocco

This image was taken in Chefchaouen, the Blue City.

No two cities, that we visited, were alike.

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The Call to Prayer  … 5 times a day

This is Hussein II Mosque. It is the 3rd largest Mosque in the world.  The largest is located in Mecca, and the second largest is in Egypt.

So I have showed you 9 points that interest me … and the 10th being the Moroccan terrain.  The one thread that all of these topics have in common is color, the colors of Morocco are abundant everywhere.

I hope I have piqued your interest, please stay tuned for my next full post:

The Faces Of Morocco

1950’s Firestone Cruiser

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 This post really isn’t about the Firestone Cruiser, and the reason is:  no information. 

So, I am going to tell you my story.

You would think that living in beautiful and picturesque Galena, Illinois I would have plenty to keep me shooting, but as

most of you know landscape photography is not my bag, and the reason is:  I cannot see it. 

So the dilemma begins.

What makes me click is color, texture, and detail,

and I found it in my latest subject,

The Firestone Cruiser.

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A few years ago I documented some old cars at a car depot (dump) on our way to St. Louis.  At first it was a stop I could not wrap my head around, but then I saw the beauty !  Well, a friend of mine in Galena collects, buys, and sells motorcycles… old and new.  Hmmm, let’s give it a go! So I asked Jimmy if I could take some pictures of his motorcycles, and he said yes.

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I drove to his building, stepped inside and stood in awe. It was manna from Heaven … I was going to have a feast .. and I did.

I took my time with each and almost every motorcycle but then, from the corner of my eye, I saw it  ….

The Firestone Cruiser

It was love at first sight.  Color, Texture, and Detail here I come!

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I haven’t had the need lately for the lens I used, my 60mm micro, but I sure do love it. I had used it quite a bit when I was photographing food for the Up Close and Personal images, but that was a long time ago.  It’s a ‘nifty’ feeling to be reunited …  just like riding a bike!

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I love to shoot wide.  And this means?  This means to open up my aperture. The aperture controls the depth of field, and when it is opened to a larger size it will blur out the noise (distractions) in the background and create a beautiful bokeh. ( bokeh: the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light) Then I tighten it up and zero in on my point of interest … yep! this is how I love to shoot!

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Because of the ‘colorful noise’ in the background, such as red and blue from the gas tanks of the motor bikes,  I muted every color except green.  The Firestone Cruiser green… must have kept some yellow in there too.

As you have heard me say before, I am my worst critic  and at the same time I can be my best fan!  Today I am a fan! I love these images …  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, and I am the one beholding.  You see, I’m the needy type, I need the approval of an outsider, but I have realized every one has an opinion and they are all different …   it is when something clicks with-in me that all is good!

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Hope you enjoyed the ride ….

The Fjord Horse

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Where am I today and what have I been doing?  As most of you know I am living in Galena, Illinois and working my fingers to the bone with my son at his delicious coffee and sandwich shop…

Big Bill’s

Days off are far and few between, lying on the couch is a thing of the past, and keeping up with my camera skills proves to be a challenge … BUT!  I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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So, how have I been honing my talents?  Horses!  Horses are one of my newest interests, but not just any horse….

Close to my home here in Galena, Illinois is

The Green Valley Farm.

This farm is a well known Norwegian Fjord horse farm with some of their horses among the top highest scoring Fjords in the United States.

Pretty impressive!

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I knew of this farm and I just had to try …. so I gave them a call.  The owner, Sophie, and her right hand gal, MeMe, gave me the presidential tour.  Lucky me!

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The Fjord horse has a distinct appearance. The breed’s conformation differs from many other breeds. They are a blend of a draught horse with muscle and bone, but are of a smaller stature with greater agility. They have a strong arched neck, sturdy legs, good feet, and a compact muscular body.

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Their head is medium-sized and well defined. They have a broad and flat forehead and a straight or slightly dished face with small ears and large eyes. Despite its size, the breed is fully capable of carrying an adult human and pulling heavy loads.

The Fjords natural mane is long, thick, and heavy, but it is usually clipped in a distinctive crescent shape between two to four inches so that it stands straight up and emphasizes the shape of the neck. This roached mane is thought to make for easier grooming. It also accentuates the horse’s strong neck and full-length dorsal stripe.

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Some feathering is allowed on the lower legs, however, the breed standard discourages profuse feathering.

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The Fjord horse is one of the world’s oldest and purest breeds. These horses were known to exist in Norway at the end of the last ice age.  It is believed that the ancestors of the modern Fjord horse migrated to Norway and were domesticated over 4,000 years ago. Archaeological excavations at Viking burial sites indicate that the Fjord horse type has been selectively bred for at least 2,000 years. The Fjord horse has been used for hundreds of years as farm animals in western Norway. Even as late as WWII they were useful for work in mountainous terrain. The Fjord horse also has a long recorded history of pure lineage without crossbreeding from other sources.

(wiki… and a bit of me)

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I fell in love with these people pleasing animals.  They watched my every move and seemed to have posed for my camera,  knowing instinctively what I was looking for.  I am anticipating my next visit to Green Valley Farm to improving my camera skills and ‘eye’ while I mingle with my new 4 legged friends. The Fall has now slipped away but I’m sure the Winter will be pretty spectacular!

  Thank you Sophie and MeMe for a very fun Summer morning!

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