Icelandic horses are one of the oldest horse breeds in the world.
They were brought to Iceland by the first settlers from Norway, in the late ninth
to early tenth centuries.
Due to the harsh climate and the lack of vegetation over more
than one half of the country, the Icelandic horse had an extremely difficult existence.
Only the strongest and the fittest could survive.
As a result of a plague in Europe, Iceland quarantined itself
for many years. In AD 930 a law was passed to ban the importation of horses and
other animals into Iceland to keep out diseases. This had the effect of preserving
the purity of the Icelandic horses – they have never been crossbred with other horses
and have remained pure for over a thousand years – and they still are!
Icelandic horses have five gaits, among them the magical tölt.
The tölt is the specialty of the Icelandic horse. It is a remarkably smooth gait
in which the horse moves its feet in the same order as in walk, though more quickly.
It is a supremely comfortable gait for the rider, and one that is available at a
variety of speeds.
Icelandic horses are very good-natured – it is virtually unknown
for an Icelandic horse to kick or bite – and they are usually easy to catch, box,
and handle. They are also self-assured and behave well in traffic.
Most Icelandic horses today are between 13 and 14 hands high.
They are extremely strong and are expected to carry an adult, no matter how tall
or heavy. The breed has charm, strength and courage. They are intelligent and love
learning and being trained. You can use an Icelandic horse for almost anything –
hacks, endurance, riding club activities, dressage and even driving. The Icelandic
horse can be found in over 40 different colors, with hundreds of variations.
Content and Photo Source: New Zealand Rare Breeds (www.rarebreeds.co.nz