What is the Icelandic Horse?
Icelandic horses are native to Iceland and are one of the oldest breeds in the world. Vikings brought these horses to Iceland in the 9th Century. They are used for numerous activities all over the world today. Icelandics the only breed in Iceland, which is currently home to roughly 80,000 horses. They come in a variety of colors and are considered a small-to-medium sized breed, standing at about 52-56 inches or 12-14 hands. They generally weigh somewhere between 700 and 950lbs and are known to be hardy when it comes to sickness and disease. In the winter, they grow a three layered coat which allows them to keep warm in extremely cold temperatures. These horses are especially know for their intelligence, sure-footedness and loyalty Icelandics are gentle and ready to please their riders. The horses can live into their late 30’s and early 40’s. This is due to the fact that they develop slower than other horses and as a result, they generally don’t start being trained to be ridden until they are about five years old.
Icelandic horses have four to five gaits one of which being tölt, a 4-beat gait specific to the breed. Tölt is an extremely valued gait for both it’s smoothness and speed. The tölt is so smooth that a rider can hold a full mug while tölting and not spill much, if any. They have races doing exactly that in Iceland to prove their horse has the smoothest tölt. Their other gaits are walk, trot, pace and canter. They’ve been known to go as fast as 35-40mph while in pace and can be ridden well into their 30’s. Icelandic horses can be ridden Western and English and do a variety of things such as trail riding, racing, showing and drill team routines.
In 1904 the Icelandic horse had it’s first breed society which is now known as the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Association and is represented in 19 countries. WorldFengur is the official Icelandic horse registry where you can track the breed and the information of a specific horse.