Icelandic Horse breed information
Icelandic Horse horse general information
COLORThe breed comes in many coat colors, including chestnut, dun, bay, black, gray, palomino, pinto and roan.
SIZEBetween 12.3 - 13.1hh
WEIGHTAverage weight can be between 725 - 840 lbs (330 - 380 kg)
LIFE EXPECTANCYOne Icelandic mare reached a record age of 56, while another horse, living in Great Britain, died at the age of 42
ORIGINThe Icelandic horse is one of the oldest horse breeds in the world. They were brought to Iceland by the first settlers from Norway, in the late ninth to early tenth centurie
USESIcelandic horses still play a large part in Icelandic life, despite increasing mechanization and road improvements that diminish the necessity for the breed's use. The first official Icelandic horse race was held at Akureyri in 1874, and from April through June many races are held throughout the country. Both flat and steeplechase races are held, as well as performance classes showcasing the breed's unique gaits. Winter events are often held, with races on frozen bodies of water. This occasionally results in both horses and riders falling into the water and needing to be rescued. The first shows specializing in in-hand classes for breeding stock were held in 1906.The Agricultural Society of Iceland, along with the National Association of Riding Clubs, organizes regular shows with many types of classes. Some horse are still bred for slaughter, with much of the meat being exported to Japan. Farmers still use the breed to round up sheep in the Icelandic highlands, but most horses are used for competition and leisure riding.
TEMPRERAMENTThe Icelandic horse has lively temperament and strong but workable character
Icelandic Horse description
The Icelandic horse breed is on of the most purest and oldest breed in the world. Although it resembles of pony breeds it is primarily adults horse, far to spirited for children. Except, if child is an exceptional rider. The word pony cant be applied to this breed of horse.
The Icelandic horse is descended from horses brought to Iceland by settlers over eleven centuries ago. Comparison between the Icelandic horse, at the time of the settlement of Iceland, and ancient Norwegian and German horses show them to have similar bone structure. Some consider it likely that there was a separate species of horse, Ecuus scandianavicus, found in these areas. These horses were later crossed with other European breeds, except in Iceland where it remained relatively pure.
The Icelandic horse is described as a rather small, sturdy and hardy, but not light in build and thus often lacking in elegance. But the strong characteristics of the breed are said to be the versatility in riding performance, lively temperament and strong but workable character. Traditionally the Icelandic horse has been raised free range or in a herd which no doubt is part of the reason for these strong characteristics.
Icelandic Horse history
The ancestors of the Icelandic horse were probably brought by Vikings to Iceland between 860 and 935 AD. They were followed by immigrants from Norse colonies in Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Western Isles of Scotland. These later settlers arrived with the ancestors of what would become Shetland, Highland and Connemara ponies, which were crossed with the previously imported animals. There may also have been a connection with the Yakut pony and they are physically very similar to the Northlands pony from Norway. At one point, approximately 900 years ago, attempts were made to introduce eastern blood into the Icelandic. The attempt resulted in a degeneration of the stock, and in 982 AD the Icelandic Althing (parliament) passed laws that prohibited the importation of horses into Iceland. Thus crossbreeding ended, and the breed has now been bred pure in Iceland for more than 1000 years.
Icelandic Horse health and genetic issues
Summer eczema (SE) is an allergic reaction to the bite of Culicoides spp. Due to the absence of the biting midges in Iceland,
the disease is not seen in the native horse population but is a serious problem in Icelandic horses living abroad.
Icelandic Horse fun facts
The first Icelandic horses was brought to Britain to work in the coal mines