9 facts about the Icelandic Horse

Your stay in Iceland is not complete until you have met (or ridden!) our iconic Icelandic horse. Here are some fun facts we wanted to share with you:

1) The purest breed

The breed developed from ponies taken to Iceland by settlers sailing from Norway in the 9th and 10th centuries. As ships could carry only two horses at a time, settlers had to select the strongest ones. There has been no cross breeding in 1000 years, which makes the Icelandic Horse the purest breed in the world.



2) Strict regulations

Due to their isolation, Icelandic horses show almost no disease. Strict laws prevent other horses from being imported and require any riding equipment brought to Iceland to be either new or fully disinfected. Also, an Icelandic horse leaving the country is not allowed to return.

3) Winter outfits

Over the time, the Icelandic horse has adapted to cold climates. Their wind pipe is for instance narrower than other horses to protect their lungs from freezing in wintertime. A double layered coat keeps them warm in harsh weather. This coat reaches 10cm long and up to 15cm around the flanks, legs, and neck. Fluffy!

My new best friends. #iceland #icelandic #horses #pferd #beautiful #friendly #animal #farmlife #skagafjordur #friends #friendly #northwestadventures

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4) Five gaits

The Icelandic horse displays two gaits in addition to the common walk, trot, and canter/gallop (considered as one gait):
– The tölt, remarkable for its power and speed, and for being a comfortable gait for the rider.
– The skeið (or „flying pace“), which is smooth and fast, with some horses reaching up to 48 km/h.

5) Many roles

In Iceland, horses are still used for traditional sheepherding work, as well as for riding, showing, and racing.

6) Long life span

As Icelandic horses mature late, they are usually not started in training before the age of 4 and it is not rare to ride them in their twenties. They have a long life span: in Denmark, one mare named Tulle was even reported living to the age of 57.

Not the eye of the tiger but the eye of the horse. #iceland #icelandic #horse #eye #beautiful #animal #northwestadventures

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7) Strong personalities

Icelandic horses have a very individual personality. Having no natural predators in Iceland, they have no tendency to kick, unlike the other breeds. Although every horse is unique, they are generally appreciated for being patient, adaptable, easy going, and for their friendly and social character.

8) Color palette

The Icelandic language has more than 100 names for horses colors and patterns : Bleikálótt, Litförótt, Móvindótt, just to name a few.

Nice colors! #iceland #icelandic #horses #horse #islandshäst #icelandichorse #winter #colorful #beautiful #animals #northwestadventures #favorite

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9) Rough terrains

Icelandic horses are very self-assured and have a higher capacity to navigate in rough terrain than the other breeds. Vikings, we tell you!

What’s going on here? #iceland #icelandic #horse #pferd #winter #farmlife #animal #northiceland #skagafjordur #curious #exploreiceland #farmvisit #northwestadventures

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