The Fascinating Icelandic Horse

“There is no more sagacious animal than the Icelandic horse. It is stopped by neither snow,

nor storm, nor impassable roads, nor rocks, glaciers, or anything. It is courageous, sober, and

surefooted. It never makes a false step, never shies.“

Jules Verne


The Fascinating Icelandic Horse


The Icelandic Horse has a long tradition in its country of origin. In the 19th century Norwegian farmers left their farms and went on a journey to find a new land and a new home. Ingolfur Arnarsson came to Iceland with a small group of people with animals, equipment and riding horses. That time the Icelandic horse was kind of a progeny of the Germanic and of the Celtic Pony. The Icelandic horse was even considered as holy animal. The Icelandic horse was symbol of fertility and became the emblem of the leaders. The loyal four-legged-friends even had to follow their owner into their graves. For many centuries the connection between Icelanders and the Icelandic Horses was incredibly strong. Travelling over Iceland is much more difficult than in any other country. Huge glaciers, enormous mountains, endless lava fields and wild rivers – humans were depending on their Icelandic horses to stay in contact and touch with other valleys and villages across Iceland.

Horses from Iceland bring families together, people are going on horseback riding with their parents, their kids and friends. Some people in Iceland even own barns together or have their Icelandic horses on the same field together over summertime. The famous Icelandic horse breeding meeting “Landsmot“ takes place every 2 years to present the best Icelandic horse breeds from all over the island. There are a few well know characteristics that are looked for in high rated Icelandic horse breeds.



The character of the Icelandic horse can be very variously. There are sensible, smooth, curious, reserved, strong, balanced, fine… But also confident and forward. Confidence and forwardness just might be seen in every Icelandic horse.


About the colors, it should be definitely something available for everybody. No breed has as many variations in colors as the tough Icelandic Horse breed. This could be a reference therefore, that the Icelandic horse was never raised or over bred, because after long breeding years it has stayed still with one solid colors. Through its centuries as a wild Icelandic horse out in the Highlands, free and wild breeding was possible for the Icelandic horse. So, the variety of colors was preserved, and it is also believed that there are around a hundred color combinations of Icelandic horses.



When the Icelandic horse foal is born, the color is often used to select the horses name. The darker Icelandic horse is called “Blakkur” the red “Rauðka” and the brown “Brunn”. Icelandic Horses are also getting their names from their farms of origin, which is added like a surname with the addition “frá” (= from). For example Stormur frá Faxaból, Aðall frá Nýjabæ or Mári frá Hvoli 2.

Other typical Icelandic horse names are: Vikingur (the Viking), Gloa (the Shining), Draumur (the Dream), Garpur (the Brave), Frekja (the Cheeky), Lukka (the Luck), Ida (the Lively), Blesi (the one with the blaze), Blanda (the multi-colored), Vaka (the Guard) and also many, many more …

You can also find more names for example here:



Icelandic horses do not only walk the basic gaits of pace, walk trot and gallop, they go tölt and pass as well. The fans and friends that the Icelandic horses have worldwide, are probably mostly attributed to the Tölt. In this gait the rider can experience the perfect combination of speed and harmony as well. It is more comfortable to sit than the walk trot and easier to control than the gallop. However, the Icelandic horse has of course to find its own balance, otherwise it can not go the tölt. The person riding the Icelandic horse also has to find the right balance for them both together and tölt never feels the same from one Icelandic horse to another or with other breeds.

Entry requirements

Even in Icelandic summertime you should always be ready and equipped for bad weather. In Iceland, there can be rain and wind during some horseback riding trips, even in august. So it’s most important to have warm and water-resistant clothes with you since it rains for often. Please note, that rider and also the Icelandic horse professionals can not bring used articles to Iceland when riding. All riding equipment needs to be new and also verifiably disinfected. Since the Icelandic Horses are all bred in the country of cIceland itself, the avoidance of certain bacterias or viruses should be of high importance. An epidemic could bring fatal consequences for the entire population of Icelandic  horse breeds

The import and export of Icelandic Horses to Iceland is strictly prohibited by an import ban of 1909. Any Icelandic horses that leave the island once cannot return to the country. According to statistics from FEIF (the international association of national Icelandic horse associations) from 2010, there are over 300,000 Icelandic horses worldwide. Most of them, around 78,000, are located in the country of its origin, Iceland. Icelandic horse clubs which are affiliated to the international organization FEIF are meanwhile in Iceland, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Luxembourg, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia , Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

Iceland, always worth the travel

The home of the  Icelandic Horse offers breathtaking, wide and rough nature. With volcanoes and glaciers, fire and ice. To get closest to this incredibly fascinating landscape, there is a big variety of riding tours. It could be for example a few-days ride on the golden beaches of the Snaefellsness peninsula or just a 1-2 hour tour over the black lava beaches of the south coast. Every ride is incredibly adventurous and will also always be remembered by all riders as a very special experience. Riding tours can also be booked online in advance (also many travel agencies offer tours), or spontaneously in some farms / stables directly by personal visit.


Come and experience the unique connection between Icelandic Horses and nature. Come and discover the Icelandic Horse!

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