|Height:||128 to 148 cm / 13 to 14 hands|
|Colors:||almost every color|
|Body:||- medium sized, expressive head with a straight profile
- lively, almond-shaped eyes
- thick tail and full, sometimes double mane
- long, strong shoulder; short, flat withers; flexible back
- strong joints and tendons
|Nature:||courageous, proud, and friendly
sometimes quite vivacious
willing to work and loves to run
|Special:||gaits tolt and flying pace
Icelandic Horses mature rather slow. They aren't ridden until they're 5 years old, but they usually live very long.
In the cold season the horses develop a thick winter fur, which perfectly protects them from snow and rain.
The ancestors of the Icelandic Horse were celtic and germanic ponies, which were brought to the Icelandic island in the middle of the 9th century. Since the 12th century there haven't been any horses imported to Iceland. This way the breed could develop undisturbed throughout history. For a long time nobody showed interest in the little horses from the island. It was in the 1950's, when Icelandics were for the first time imported as riding horses to continental Europe, where they were greatly appreciated by pleasure riders.
Thanks to its versatility the Icelandic Horse has gained great popularity. With its special very comfortable gait, the tolt, and its stamina it makes the perfect companion for long rides alone or in a group with many horses and riders. Icelandic Horses safely manage even difficult terrain, without stumbling. The rider can completely rely on his horse and enjoy the beauty of nature. Icelandics are strong, sturdy and spirited, but if they're well trained, they are good horses for children, handicapped people and beginners. The Icelandic Horse is a working horse, used for transport and travelling over rough volcanic terrain and mountains, and even through the glacier rivers of Iceland, where no roads or bridges existed until the late 19th century. Work was hard and due to the harsh climate there was often a shortage of fodder. The horses lived in huge herds and spent the winter outside. For riding horses this has changed nowadays.
There's an estimated number of 80,000 horses in Iceland and some 100,000 abroad, about half of them live in Germany. The growing passion for Icelandic Horses has a great influence on the breeding of horses in Iceland. Most breeders specialize in riding horses, but there are still breeders who produce horse-meat, which is consumed in Iceland itself and exported to several european countries.
But the main interest of Icelandic farmers is still the breeding of
Many horses are being sold in Iceland itself, especially in Reykjavík
and other cities, where riding has become a very popular sport. There are
special contests for Icelandic Horses with emphasis on the gaits tolt and
flying pace. There are tournaments for four- and five-gaited horses, where
the gaits are presented and rated by judges. Flying pace is also shown
in races over 150 or 250 meters, where not only speed counts, but also
the performance of the racing horse.
Icelandic Horses also show their skills in classical competitions like dressage and jumping, and they compete on distance races and mounted games. Because of the importation ban international competitions can't be held in Iceland, and horses who leave the island to compete, can never return home.
|Last update: 30/05/1999||
(c) 1999 Fákur