Selective breeding of the Icelandic Horse for over one thousand years has created a unique breed of horse. More than one millennium of breeding free of outside bloodlines has produced one of the purest breeds of horse on earth. Its easy going and friendly disposition make the Icelandic Horse the ideal companion for the entire family. With no natural predators in its home country the horse has shed much of its natural fight and flight instinct. Icelandic Horses are very popular in Europe with close to 80,000 of them on the European continent, the same number in Iceland and they are catching on in North America, where roughly 2,000 can be found.
Gaits & Characteristics of Icelandic Horses
Icelandic horses are equally at home taking the children for a ride, in the show ring or trekking in the mountains. Centuries of isolation in Iceland has produced an extremely sure footed horse that is agile on rough terrain and shows great reserves of stamina. Although only 13 to 14 hands, the Icelandic horse weights between 800 and 1000 pounds and was bred to carry Vikings across Iceland. High bone density and strong sturdy legs enable a conditioned horse to carry an adult rider comfortably all day long. Their willingness to please and their love of people makes the Icelandic horse the ideal family companion.
Icelandics are very easy keepers and a thick winter coat protects them in cold climates. Slow to mature they are usually not ridden until they are four or five years old, but it is not unusual to ride them into their late twenties or early thirties. A great variety of colours, including many shades of dun and pintos can be found in the breed.
Both the United States Icelandic Horse Congress and the Canadian Icealndic Horse Federation are affiliated with F.E.I.F. which is the European umbrella organization for Icelandic Horse associations in Europe and North America. The World Championships for Icelandic horses are held every two years in one of the member countries and smaller local shows invite riders and spectators to enjoy the Icelandic horse throughout the year. All Icelandic horses are registered in the country of origin.