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The Wonderfully Unique Icelandic Horse

March 10, 2020

The Wonderfully Unique Icelandic Horse

March 10, 2020

Uniquely Iceland

One unattested fact about Iceland and the adjective probably most often used to describe it, is that it is unique. The most obviously unique thing about Iceland is its geology, its situation on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and its subsequent geothermal activity and awesome landscapes. But in an island so far removed and geologically isolated from the rest of the world, there are a lot of things unique to Iceland. One of the most cherished defining features of this island is the Icelandic horse.

Don’t call it a pony

The Icelandic horse is definitely short and as a hardy breed it gains weight easily. In winter it also sports a thick and fluffy coat that makes it seem even shorter and rounder so travellers might be forgiven for mistaking it for a pony. They’re actually not so easily forgiven. The Icelandic horse is a point of great national pride and one of very few faux pas you can make in Iceland is calling these horses ponies. These animals are both trusted servants and cherished friends and at their best, they are glorious and graceful steeds.

Characteristics of the Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic horse has the three gaits common to all horses, the walk, trot and canter or gallop. But one of its most beloved features is the heavenly smooth and versatile tölt. The majority of Icelandic horses are born with this gait while training usually involves doing it well and on command. It is both beautiful to look at and incredibly comfortable. A popular sport involves holding a glass of beer while riding the tölt without spilling a single drop. A few select horses can also do the flying pace, an explosively fast gait used over short distances. In addition to these popular extra gaits, the Icelandic horse is both hardy and sturdy, meaning it can travel great distances over rugged landscapes and is both very sure-footed and strong. And then there’s its unique character, a general enthusiasm and will, mixed with a gentle and mild disposition, making it especially popular with riding families.

Outdoor Horses

Driving along the countryside anywhere in Iceland means you will definitely come across a group of horses, quietly grazing in a field. If its winter, they’ll be extra adorable in their fluffy winter coats and many find them so irresistible they can’t help but pull over to get a closer look. Always make sure to pull over at a safe spot and never in the middle of the road and never feed the horses, unless of course their owner is present to give you some guidance. Before you get worried about the cold, keep in mind that these animals prefer the outdoors and are usually provided with shelters for extra windy days. In case of a particularly bad snowstorm they are sometimes kept inside, much to their own dislike. They are after all very well dressed for the weather and have evolved for these exact weather conditions. So, don’t worry, most of these horses live a full and mostly free existence to roam their fields with their pack.

If you’re in Iceland, don’t miss your chance to meet one of Iceland’s most beautiful and beloved characters: our wonderful and unique Icelandic horse.

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Five reasons for taking the Flybus

Although it may not seem like it, you have in fact landed in civilisation and airport transfer in Iceland is readily available.

Read Blog

The Wonderfully Unique Icelandic Horse

March 10, 2020

The Wonderfully Unique Icelandic Horse

March 10, 2020

Uniquely Iceland

One unattested fact about Iceland and the adjective probably most often used to describe it, is that it is unique. The most obviously unique thing about Iceland is its geology, its situation on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and its subsequent geothermal activity and awesome landscapes. But in an island so far removed and geologically isolated from the rest of the world, there are a lot of things unique to Iceland. One of the most cherished defining features of this island is the Icelandic horse.

Don’t call it a pony

The Icelandic horse is definitely short and as a hardy breed it gains weight easily. In winter it also sports a thick and fluffy coat that makes it seem even shorter and rounder so travellers might be forgiven for mistaking it for a pony. They’re actually not so easily forgiven. The Icelandic horse is a point of great national pride and one of very few faux pas you can make in Iceland is calling these horses ponies. These animals are both trusted servants and cherished friends and at their best, they are glorious and graceful steeds.

Characteristics of the Icelandic Horse

The Icelandic horse has the three gaits common to all horses, the walk, trot and canter or gallop. But one of its most beloved features is the heavenly smooth and versatile tölt. The majority of Icelandic horses are born with this gait while training usually involves doing it well and on command. It is both beautiful to look at and incredibly comfortable. A popular sport involves holding a glass of beer while riding the tölt without spilling a single drop. A few select horses can also do the flying pace, an explosively fast gait used over short distances. In addition to these popular extra gaits, the Icelandic horse is both hardy and sturdy, meaning it can travel great distances over rugged landscapes and is both very sure-footed and strong. And then there’s its unique character, a general enthusiasm and will, mixed with a gentle and mild disposition, making it especially popular with riding families.

Outdoor Horses

Driving along the countryside anywhere in Iceland means you will definitely come across a group of horses, quietly grazing in a field. If its winter, they’ll be extra adorable in their fluffy winter coats and many find them so irresistible they can’t help but pull over to get a closer look. Always make sure to pull over at a safe spot and never in the middle of the road and never feed the horses, unless of course their owner is present to give you some guidance. Before you get worried about the cold, keep in mind that these animals prefer the outdoors and are usually provided with shelters for extra windy days. In case of a particularly bad snowstorm they are sometimes kept inside, much to their own dislike. They are after all very well dressed for the weather and have evolved for these exact weather conditions. So, don’t worry, most of these horses live a full and mostly free existence to roam their fields with their pack.

If you’re in Iceland, don’t miss your chance to meet one of Iceland’s most beautiful and beloved characters: our wonderful and unique Icelandic horse.

iStock-834847220_horses
Hestur iStock-516948153_horse

REYKJAVIK EXCURSIONS BLOG

Get inspired! Information and tips and must see places in Iceland, fun facts, customs and more.

Five reasons for taking the Flybus

Although it may not seem like it, you have in fact landed in civilisation and airport transfer in Iceland is readily available.

Read Blog