The icelandic horse is a unique breed of horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that the icelandic horse is descendent from an ancient breed of horses, that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation.
The Icelandic, as it is commonly referred to, is known for being sure footed and able to cross rough terrain. It displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop, commonly displayed by other breeds. The first additional gait is a four-beat gait called tölt. Tölt is known for its explosive acceleration and speed. The breed also performs a gait called skeið or flying pace. Skeið is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth with some horses able to reach up to 50 km/h.
The 5 gaits of the Icelandic horse
The icelandic horse comes in many different colors, and the icelandic language includes more than 100 words for the various colors and color patterns.
The Icelandic horse is long lived and hardy and has become very popular internationally. A sizable population exists in Europe and North America. In their native country they have few diseases. As a result icelandic laws prevent horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to ever return.
The icelandic horse continues to be used for farm work in addition to showing, racing and recreation. Horse riding is a great way to explore unspoiled nature. Riding tours are offered all throughout Iceland by various and numerous farms, many of which are only a few minutes outside of Reykjavik. The tours suit all levels of experience and can last anywhere between half a day to ten days.
Travelling with the Icelandic horse