Description of the Icelandic horse

The Icelandic horse is one of the noblest breeds of horses, which among the compatriots compares favorably with its unique qualities, and most of all with its relatively small sizes.

Characteristics of the Icelandic horse

Icelandic horses are considered the purest in origin. These small furry animals are attracted by their external features and are a symbol of Iceland.

History of breed origin

The Icelandic breed of wondrous horses first appeared in Iceland in the 9th-11th centuries.

According to historical data, the Vikings brought these animals to the country. Due to the fact that there was not so much space on their wooden ships, the Scandinavian sailors brought only small animals. At that time, in Iceland, this horse was revered, since they considered the breed an assistant to the supreme god Odin.

On the island, Icelandic horses were the only means of transportation besides boats and ships. They were also indispensable helpers in agriculture. When their owners were dying, the animals were burned at the funeral pyres along with a person. It was believed that so the filly and its owner will be able to move together into the afterlife. Often the Vikings staged death fighting between stallions.

The history of the origin of the Icelandic breed

At the end of the X century, the Parliament of Iceland passed a law that prohibited the import of horses into the country. During this period, the world spread plague and other serious diseases that could be transmitted through animals. This law was supposed to prevent the spread of disease in Iceland. Another reason for the ban on the import of horses was their inability to meet local conditions, as well as the fact that imported horses spoiled the appearance of local horses. That is why the horses of the Icelandic breed are considered the most thoroughbred. Centuries have passed, and horses are still not allowed to import to Iceland, even those that were briefly taken out of the country for any reason, for example, to participate in the equestrian championship.

In the XVIII century, a lot of Icelandic horses died as a result of a volcanic eruption. At the beginning of the XX century in Iceland created the first organization involved in breeding horses of the Icelandic breed. Today, this community operates in 19 countries, as these small shaggy horses are very popular, especially in European countries and North America. They are used as labor in agriculture, hunting, and equestrian sports. Only these Icelandic low horses can easily ride on ice, and, despite their small stature, participate in competitions to overcome obstacles and in speed runs. Often they are used in hippotherapy. It is on Icelandic horses that children are taught to ride, as they are small and very kind.

Breed description

The Icelandic horse is distinguished from other breeds of horses by its large heavy head with small ears, shaggy bangs, long thick mane and high-set tail. Her profile is straight, her face is slightly shortened, and her neck is short, but the horse’s body is elongated, her back is strong, her legs are short but strong, and her hooves are strong, which allows the animal to gallop even in mountainous areas.

Features of the Icelandic breed

Parameters of a horse from Iceland are characteristic only for this breed. The maximum height at the withers reaches 145 cm, the usual height is 130-140 cm. Often due to their small stature they are confused with a pony. The weight of these animals averages 320 kg, although they can weigh 380 kg and even 410 kg. The color of the hairline of the Icelandic horse is the most diverse: from red to black. But you can meet both gray and bay horses, and representatives of any other colors and shades. The most common is the dark brown Icelandic horse.

Icelandic horses are considered long-livers: they can live 40 years. Their maturity comes to 8 years.

Pets are not raised by individuals, but by herds. Most of the year they are kept in the fresh air, and for the winter they are driven indoors. But this is not the most necessary rule for keeping horses of this breed, because of the thick coat they are not afraid of the cold. And thanks to its strong immunity, animals practically do not get sick.

Where to use Icelandic horses

For many centuries, horses in Iceland have been used as pack animals and mounts, as they are very hardy, immune to diseases and unpretentious to food and conditions. They are the only breed of horse that can feed on fish. Equestrian sport is very popular on the island, so these unusual animals often participate in horse racing and horseback riding. They are easy to learn. A special demand for them also arises because Icelandic horses can walk in five types of gait:

  • the usual step is the basis of all paces, the first in speed;
  • trot - legs move in pairs diagonally, that is, the rear right and front left legs are rearranged at the same time, then the other 2 legs;
  • at a gallop - a swift flight of a horse, a threefold gait: first, one hind leg is moved forward, then the other along with the front;
  • Skate - first, both legs move on one side, then on the other;
  • teltom - fourfold gait: the horse steps with its front legs, and moves far forward with its hind legs.

Another feature of Icelandic horses, because of which they are so loved, is their quick wit and ability to quickly navigate in space. They can easily overcome ice-covered lakes, stone expanses and transient rivers. An interesting fact: if a horse is brought to an unknown place, it will be able to find a way home, as it remembers the road perfectly.


Iceland is constantly cool and damp, in summer the air temperature is not high, and in winter it is not too low. But in winter, all living vegetation is completely covered with snow, mosses and lichens disappear - almost the only food for horses in the summer. But these smart animals adapted to harsh conditions: they learned to fish in ponds, accumulate subcutaneous fat by winter and grow long hairs.

At other times of the year, horses from Iceland eat oats, bran, hay and straw, can eat vegetables, fruits and even sugar and crackers. They rarely eat fresh herbs.


Icelandic horses have a friendly, calm disposition. They are friendly to everyone and quickly get used to new people and riders, so they are easy to tame.

In the history of this breed, horses of this species have never been seen by predators. Yes, and today there are practically no predatory animals on the island, so Icelandic horses are not at all timid. We can say that they have no sense of fear at all. From this, animals are not at all afraid of people and trust them, showing humility.

Features of care and maintenance

Previously, these cute animals were raised in the wild in herds. This method of breeding has shaped their character. The main task was to train the little foal in its natural habitat. But after more than 100 years, the breeding methods of Icelandic horses have changed dramatically. Today, the traditional methods practiced in old Iceland have been replaced by European ones.

Care and maintenance

The annual growth of young animals is several thousand. Foals are born mainly in spring and summer. This happens in nature. The first 4 years of life, young horses are in the herd, live in a natural environment. In the summer they graze in fields and meadows and eat forbs. In the winter, they are driven indoors and fed with hay.

Despite immunity to diseases and strong immunity, Icelandic horses need to be examined regularly by a veterinarian: this will help to avoid the appearance of a disease such as sweet scabies. It is also important to monitor harmful insects that can cause inconvenience to the animal.

In winter you can let horses out of the stables so they can walk in the fresh air. Warm thick coat will not let them freeze. But after walking it is necessary to inspect the horses, wash them and be sure to dry, because due to the presence of dirt and moisture, the inflammatory process in the area of ​​nostrils and hooves can begin.


A good attitude towards the Icelandic horse will help you to get its loyalty, and careful care and proper maintenance will make it possible to grow a stallion strong and healthy.


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