The Icelandic horse
The Icelandic horse is a descendent of horses that were brought to Iceland during the settlement in the period of 874-930 and is one of the purest horse breeds in the world. They have been isolated on Iceland for more than 1000 years without any genetic input from other breeds.
Since the horse was so widely used for riding, good riding abilities, vigour and strength were particularly valued. As for the riding abilities, a willing horse with good speed capacity, length of stride and suppleness had been highly appreciated, as these were the desirable attributes for daylong travelling.
Nowadays, Icelandic horses can be found all over the world. More than 280,000 Icelandic horses around the world are registered in the WorldFengur database.
The gaits of the Icelandic horse
The Icelandic horse is a versatile riding horse that is used for leisure riding, travelling and in various competitions. The versatility of the Icelandic horse consists of, among other things, its five gaits. Its basic gaits are walk, trot, and canter. In addition, it is capable of tölt as well as pace. In riding and breeding the Icelandic horse, a heavy emphasis is put on the gaits, of which tölt and pace are considered the most desirable, although the versatility of the horse is highly valued as well. The emphasis on the gaits is clearly reflected in the various competitions for the Icelandic horse, which are in most cases gait competitions.
In addition, the Icelandic horse is a riding horse used both for short distance leisure riding as well as for travelling on longer journeys.
The main goal in regards to the gaits is to keep them pure and clearly distinguished. A pure gait has a correct beat, the horse moving freely without constraint or mistakes in an even rhythm. The gaits should moreover possess long, roomy strides and lightness and the movements of the horse should be high and supple.
The character of the Icelandic horse
The Icelandic horse is known for being a versatile, four- or five-gaited horse with an authentic and inviting character. The horses are friendly, adventurous, intelligent and quick to learn. They are in general very easy to handle, with a good temperament and great willingness to work.
The gaitedness of the Icelandic horse has been preserved through the centuries, and with an increase in leisure activities, the riding abilities of the Icelandic horse facilitated the development of a new tradition of leisure riding, sport competitions and travelling on horseback. This versatility is highly treasured and one of the most important breeding goals.