Icelandic Horse

Icelandic horse Horse Breeds

What is an Icelandic horse?

The sometimes considered pony size Icelandic Horse breed, is nevertheless regarded as a horse and not a pony by the experts.

Coming from Iceland, once they have been exported are banned to be re-imported which protect them from diseases which have resulted in a longer life and also healthy animals.

Popular also in Europe and the USA, are the only breed in the country, and unlike other breeds in the world they display 5 paces:  the walk, the trot, the canter, the tölt, and the flying gaits.

The Icelandic Horse has been worked in his country of origin mostly in jobs related with shepherding, but due to its actual popularity these days can be seen in racing, exhibitions and riding activities.

Horse veneration had an important place in the Norse culture, and the custom was taken with them when they became the earliest settlers of Iceland. These settlers took horses  to the country until the 10th century, and the following generations bred them selectively resulting in the breed that now is spread around the world. The rough life conditions and a huge volcanic explosion at the end of the 18th century, resulted in a shrunk of population that even today can be noticed, but today  the breed has improved thanks to “The International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations“, which is the organization that group 19 entities in the same number of countries that have the mission to watch and supervise the evolution of the Icelandic horse breed around the world.

Main Features of The Icelandic Horse

Nevertheless his  pony size the horse shows a weight, bone structure, temperament and sturdiness, that are the arguments that many experts use to consider him a horse.

With a regular height, between 13 and 14 hands, and a weight in a range from 730 to 840 lb. the Icelandic has great character and strong temperament traits that are normally absent in the personality of ponies.

His short neck is muscular with an ample base that serves as a strong foundation for his balanced head, which features a broad forehead on a straight shape head. His legs even look short are strong and show extensive bone structure for their size.

The breed features more than 100 name colors making the variety of them difficult to compare with any other breed.

Between those colors we can highlight;  Roan, dun, bay, black, chestnut, palomino, pinto and  gray.

The aforementioned natural selection of the breed can be seen easily in the stiff hair that he shows in his mane a tail, and most important is the double coat hair, that allowed the breed to endure the extremely rough weather that characterizes the country.

Under saddle and draft horses are usually bred by different studs, which according to the kind of horses that they wont to get, develop their own method of breeding. Also under saddle horse breeders emphasized the ability of the horse to perform the characteristic gaits that the Icelandic horse is recognized for.

Other special kind of the horse breeders are the producers that are dedicated specially to some kind of coat shades or the selection of horses whom are mostly  bred to be destined to satisfy the horse meat supply chain.

A highly fertile breed, individuals of these great kinds of horses can reproduce until they are 25 year of age, they can be ridden from the age of 4, and remain sturdy until they complete their 20th year of age.

His temperament is known for his docility,  easygoing, and friendliness .

 Icelandic Horse Gaits

Special mention is deserved for their characteristic five gaits, that is the trait because this breed is vastly known.

Usually known for its ability to navigate on harsh soil, the Icelandic horse have a singular trait that consist in that the members of this breed are able to perform 2 more gaits that the majority of horses. Horses normally display the classic walk, trot, and canter/gallop gaits, but the majority of the horses that compound these amazing breed can develop two more gaits, “the tölt” and the “flying pace” which make the Icelandic horse a unique kind of breed.


There is no doubt that the Icelandic horse is one of the most singular breeds in the world. His double  layer of hair , and his incomparable gaits, make them a kind of horse that everyone of us have to appreciate. The fine protection of the breed that the authorities of Iceland have executed, have had an undeniable effect in the purity of the breed, result that can be observed by the awesome standards of health that the horses in the country present. Also the coordination of the registrars around the world have helped to keep a complete and precise information about the evolution of the Icelandic Horse breed in the world.

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