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Icelandic Horses Are Like No Others In The World – Here’s What Makes Them Special

Icelandic horse and woman on a horse farm

Icelandic Horses Are Like No Others In The World – Here’s What Makes Them Special

Icelandic horses are gems, and riding them is unlike any other experience. Here’s what makes Icelandic horses so unique.

Icelandic Horses Have A Rich History

These unique horses are one of the oldest breeds in the world and have been purebred for centuries. They are believed to have first arrived in Iceland sometime between 800 AD and 1050 AD.

Today Iceland does not allow any foreign livestock into the country, and that practice has been applied to horses since the Viking age. At one time, horses brought from Europe spread disease to Icelandic horses and caused nearly half of them to die. After that, the Vikings banned any foreign horses from entering the island. Today, any horses who leave the island – for example, for international competitions – are forbidden from returning.

Icelandic Horses Have Friendly Personalities

Thanks to their tough histories traversing the rough lands of Iceland, these horses have developed unique personalities. They are friendly, smart, and bold. They know their local landscape by heart, and they make dodging difficult terrain look easy. Cold weather doesn’t scare them. They’re ready for anything.

Icelandic horses are rarely shy. They have close bonds with their fellow horses and are happiest in groups. They also love to meet new human friends, and warm up quickly to new people. At the same time, they’re incredibly intuitive, and can read humans’ feelings like a book. This is why I encourage my guests to get centered and focus on their breathing when first meeting the horses.

Icelandic Horses Have Their Own Unique Gaits

Icelandic horses are the oldest gaited horse breed. This makes the horse much more comfortable to ride. They are known for having their own unique gaits.

The first, called the tölt, is a four-beat gait that no other horse in the world can accomplish. When you see it for yourself, it’s easy to see why it’s their specialty – the tölt is ideal for navigating Iceland’s rugged landscape.

The second gait, called flugskeið or “flying” gait, is a speedy two-beat gait that some Icelandic horses use when traveling in short stretches. Not all Icelandic horses do the flugskeið, but it’s one of the renowned talents that make our horses famous worldwide.


Icelandic Horses Are Comfortable To Ride

Back in the day, the Vikings intentionally bred their horses to be both comfortable and tough at the same time. After all, these bold little horses had a big job to do: they were responsible for carrying the Vikings across rugged, unknown lands in all seasons. Today, their smooth amble makes them ideal for everyone from beginning riders to seasoned pros. If you have aches and pains, Icelandic horses are more likely to be a comfortable ride than most other breeds. They can read and adjust to your body language to offer the smoothest ride possible.

Join us for an Iceland horseback riding adventure! Book before you arrive in Iceland. Click here for more information.