About Icelandic Horses
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.