The Icelandic Horse is descended from horses brought to Iceland about 870 A.D. by Norsemen, as well as from horses found in Norse settlements of Scotland and Ireland. Therefore the Icelandic Horse is a mixture of horses from various parts of northern Europe. In the rugged geography of Iceland, horses were the prime source of transportation for many years. In some remote sections, these horses are still depended upon for transportation. The natural gait of the Icelandic Horse is the amble (or pace), a very smooth and comfortable gait for the rider. The Icelandic Horse is used for harness work, as a pack horse, and as a riding horse.
The Icelandic Horse is short and compactly built. It has a large head with expressive eyes. The neck is muscular, with a long, thick mane and forelock. Different types of the breed have bodies of varying lengths and depths. In all cases, however, the Icelandic Horse is a strong, capable worker. The breed is known for its keen eyesight, homing instinct, and independent character. Nearly all colors are found, with the most common being gray, dun, brown and chestnut. It stands between 12 and 13 hands. The natural gait of the Icelandic Horse is the amble.
The Icelandic Horse is native to Iceland. It is descended from horses brought to that island by men from Norway in the ninth century. The Icelandic Horse's ancestors were brought to Iceland by two "jarls" from Norway. Refusing to live under the King of Norway, they and other settlers emigrated to Iceland in 874 A.D. They were subsequently joined by settlers from Norse settlements in northern Britain and Ireland who also brought ponies with them.
Norsemen found great sport in using their horses for stallion fighting. This bloody sport is a subject of some of the famous Norse sagas. Since Iceland's climate is not favorable for beef production, one type of Icelandic Horse is bred to be slaughtered for its meat.
1. Tarpan 2. Fjord
For more information:
United Icelandic Horse Congress