Recently I visited Iceland and although I was excited to see Icelandic horses, I didn’t expect to be quite so blown away by them. I stayed at Berg Horse Farm in Grundarfjörður and was lucky to get pictures of their herd, they were incredibly friendly and inquisitive! So I thought I would tell you six interesting facts about Icelandic horses that I did not know before I visited:
1. Icelandic Horses have five Gaits!!
They have the walk, the trot, the canter, the tölt and the flying pace.
I had the chance to ride an Icelandic Horse at Viking horses which I would highly recommend; it was just myself and my fiancé on the tour. We rode through the surrounding hills in the thick snow with stunning views of the volcanic formations and the city of Reykjavik.
When I discovered we would not be doing any rising trot and instead would tölt (entirely sitting), I flashbacked to my sitting trot lessons at home and imagined I was in for an uncomfy 2-hour ride! However, I was so pleasantly surprised, the tölt was incredibly comfortable and a smooth bounce-free ride. I read online that although it is the same pattern as walk, it can be almost as fast as galloping.
The flying pace is the pace used during racing and only over small distances. The horses that are able to do all 5 gaits are considered the best of breed and will reach premium prices.
2) Despite the fact to us they look like ponies, they are classed as horses
Icelandic horses range from 12hh to 14.2hh and are hardy, robust and despite their size, capable of carrying heavy riders!
3) The purest breed in the world!
When Viking settlers arrived in Iceland in the 9th century they brought horses from Scandinavia and the British Isles with them. In 982AD a law was passed banning the importation of horses, a ban which has been strictly enforced ever since. This has resulted in the purest breed in the world, any horse that leaves Iceland is not able to return. A massive benefit of this is that they are free of diseases, they don’t even have to vaccinate!
4) 80,000 Icelandic Horses in Iceland!
A huge amount considering the human population is only 341,243. To put that into perspective the UK has 847,00 horses but a massive human population of 66.65 million!
5) There are over 100 different recognised colour variations of the Icelandic Horse
Each colour variation has its own Icelandic name.
6) Icelandic Horses are incredibly intelligent
Whilst we were riding through the thick snow I said to the tour leader “how can you tell if the snow is too deep to ride through?” and she replied they listen to the horses. The horses will stop and tell them if the snow is too deep. There are many stories of Icelandic horses intelligence, where they have prevented their riders from riding into danger!
I could write so much more for this blog, Icelandic Horses are truly fascinating. I hope you enjoyed reading my blog!