Five Gaits: Walk, Trot, Tölt, Canter, and Flying Pace
If you haven't felt the unique feel of the tölt, please put this on your horse riding bucket list. The first reaction is glee, followed by laughter, then exhilaration as this tiny little power house of a horse will take you on a ride of a lifetime. The tölt is a very smooth, four-beat gait. Some Icelandic's also perform a flying pace (skeið) a two-beat lateral gait. The flying pace can reach up to 30 mph!
The Original Viking Horse!
The Icelandic Horse arrived in Iceland with the Vikings over 1,000 years ago. In the year 930 the importation of other horses was prohibited, making the current Icelandic horse one of the purest in the world. They are known for being strong, sturdy, and capable of carrying adult riders over long distances!
Only Breed Allowed in Iceland
Once a horse leaves Iceland the law prevents them from returning home. To this day no horses are allowed to be imported.
Tough, Surefooted, Fluffy, and Loveable!
These well built little horses are known for having solid hooves, strong bones, and exceptional personalities. They are often ridden in areas that wouldn’t be safe for other horses. On rides in Iceland, your guide will often tell you, “Just let the horse pick its own path, they know what they are doing.” They develop thick furry coats in the winter, which not only makes them look like large teddy bears, it makes them very comfortable in tough weather conditions.
The Coat of Many Colors
A unique characteristic is their wide variety of colors and patterns. Over 100 different colors and patterns are recognized including: Móálóttur (Silver-gray with black points,) Leirljós (Very light, with lighter mane and tail,) and unusual shades of roan.
Long Healthy Lives
Training is usually started at around 4-5 years of age allowing the bones time to fully mature. They have a long life span and it is common to see owners still riding their horses well into their 20’s. A mare from Denmark, named Tulle was reported to have lived to 56 years old!
United States Icelandic Horse Congress ( www.Icelandics.org)