The Icelandic Horse – What Makes this Horse Unique?

by adventure
The Icelandic Horse

If we talk about the versatility of Icelandic horse, they are unique, superb, natural jumpers, majestic creature, and enthusiastic driving horses. These horses are long-lived and hardy. These horses are known for being friendly as well. However, the Icelandic Horses are miniature but strong and with outstanding personalities.

This horse has a special place in the people’s hearts because they are intelligent, more curious, and independent than other breeds; that’s why all love the Icelandic horse.

So, let’s take a Joyful ride…

What Makes the Icelandic Horses Special?

Sweet Temperament

Icelandic Horse is known for their easy-going attitude, and this temperament made them famous around the world. They are friendly, curious, gentle, and intelligent; these things make them famous worldwide.

The Icelandic Horse

Why they have a Sweet Temperament?

  • Some folks of Iceland used to say they have this kind of temperament due to freedom. They ride free in vast open fields.
  • Others used to say this kind of temperament came from their closeness to the Viking people.


Small but Strong

These horses are famous for their convenient size. They are tending to be around 140cm tall. The Vikings picked the best and most vital horses and brought them to Iceland. One of the most important things that makes these horses tough and robust is the harsh environment and weather conditions.

These horses played an essential role in the lives of Icelanders lives in the old days. Some folks used to say, without these horses, life could be tough and unbearable. Folks of ancient times used horses for carrying the heavy stuff around the farm and folks over heavy rivers and rocky ground.

These horses are no pony and don’t try to call them pony because this thing offended them.

The Icelandic Ponies

Stunning Colors and Patterns of Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic Horse comes in several colors and 100 various patterns. Throughout the life span, sometimes they change the colors.

Brown, red, and chestnut are the most common colors in Icelandic Horses. But the unique and rarest color is litföróttur (color travelers); if any horse has this color, it will change colors several times a year.

Horses in Iceland

The weight of these horses is 340 to 380 kg (approximately 740 and 804lb). Viking thought of the horse as a holy animal since it was brought to Iceland.


Icelandic Horse’s History

The Viking brought this horse breed in Iceland between 860 and 935AD. One of the purest horse breed Vikings brought in Iceland. These horses are from Norway but originally comes from Asia. Some of the Vikings stopped in Scotland who was taking horses along to Iceland, and the horses were mixed with Scottish horses as well.

The horses have remained pure from the 10th century and evolved to the horses we know today.

The Icelandic horses have many unique and great qualities. The Vikings brought only the best horses along to Iceland. As I told you before, these horses are strong and healthy than other horses; the one unique thing about the Icelandic horses is that they can survive in harsh winters with almost no food for a long time.

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Five Gaits of Icelandic Horse and their Characteristics

Five gaits are the most notable attributes in Icelandic horses. We all familiar with three types of gaits like walking, trotting, and galloping. Two more gaits make the Icelandic horses unique.

Let’s take look at all gaits:

  • Walking

You can observe this gait during a horse walk in Iceland. The pace of walking, they walk in a very smooth way, that thing makes their grade higher than competing.

  • Trotting

It is one of the common gaits around the world. The trotting horse has two types of rhythms. The first is when you ride the horse, you’ll go up and down with every step. The other rhythm is, you’ll move with the horse when you step firmly into the stirrup.

  • Canter/Gallop

There is a tiny difference in both of these, but most folks consider these same. The common thing is they can be ridden both fast and slow.

  • Tolt

It’s a unique and additional gait that the Icelandic horses possess. This is a four-beat lateral ambling gait. This breed is known for its smooth and comfortable riding and known for its speed mergers. The folks of Iceland used to say if you hold a glass of beer while riding the tolt without spilling a single drop.

  • Skeið

Another additional gait of this horse. This is a flying pace gait used particularly for racing. This horse speed limit is 30 to 48km per hour.

Only two legs touch the ground at a time during the flying pace. If you are a trainee, don’t take a ride on it because it’s uncomfortable and not famous for regular riding. Though sometimes, it can be entertaining and used by experienced riders.



Here are some answers to questions that I asked about the horses from Icelandic’s people;

  • What equipment you have to wear before a ride?

It depends on the weather, while the weather of Iceland is unpredictable. You can experience the rain, snow, or sunshine during your ride, so take your dress according to the forecast. For example, if you are going on a horse in winter, make sure to bring appropriate winter riding clothes. Helmet and rubber riding boots are essential in all types of ridings.


  • How many Horses in Iceland, and will you find any wild horses in Iceland?

The govt. of Iceland passed the law that bans the importation of horses. You’ll find only locally bred horses in Iceland. Almost the 80,000 horses you’ll find in Iceland while hundred of horses are wild in Iceland.


  • Can you taste the Iceland Horse?

Now not common as before, one of the main reasons someone told me after Icelanders took Christianity, they banned eating this honorable creature they owned.


  • What is the maximum age limit of Icelandic Horses?

In Iceland, they reported living to the age of 58 almost.


The beautiful Icelandic Horse

Final Thoughts…

I gave you the information that I experienced during my visit to Iceland. The Iceland tour might not be complete, and you will not fully experience the beauty of Icelandic nature without having a ride of this honorable creature.

Horse riding will give you the opportunity to explore the giant mountains, and you’ll see the beauty of glacial rivers.

When you come to Iceland, don’t forget to ride this unique and exceptional animal.

Thank you for being with me!


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