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Icelandic Horse: Get to Know Your Equine Breeds


The Icelandic Horse is one of the oldest breeds of horses in the world and has populated Iceland for up to 1100 years. It has been found that this breed can be traced back to ancient descendants tied to Norway and Europe. When the Icelandic horse was brought to Iceland, they lived in isolation and have evolved into the very unique and sure-footed small horse that we see today.


The Icelandic Horses are considered one of the worlds purest breeds, allowing us to trace their history back to links tied to the very first domesticated horse breeds. Brought to Iceland on ships with the Vikings, these horses helped the people prosper by being able to travel long distances, carry heavy loads, and plow their fields. The people and horses of Iceland were forced to adapt to a very harsh living environment. With valiance, this sturdy breed has evolved into a horse that can withstand chilling temperature, sparse vegetation, and always being accompanied by a task of hard work. In Iceland this breed has suffered very few diseases and flourished throughout their native country. Therefore, Icelandic law has mandated that no horses can be imported into the country and exported horses can never return.


Icelandic Horses are known for their spirited temperament and big personality. These horses are typically on the more stout side due to the terrain and conditions that they are built to withstand. They display 2 other gaits outside of walk/trot/canter/gallop, making them a naturally gaited breed. The first gait is called the tölt, known for its quick acceleration and high speed. The second gait is called the pace, allowing comfort and quickness for their rider.


These small, stout, and compact horses are built to be mobile but also withstand tough terrain. An Icelandic horse has a well-defined head, and a wealth of beautiful mane and tail. A typical Icelandic horse is short and stocky but carries himself with a sense of athleticism that is unmatched.

Average Height

Icelandic horses are often called Icelandic ponies due to their short height. They stand on an average of 12.2 – 13.2 hands but still can carry large adults due to their unique bone density.

Typical Colors

The Icelandic horse comes in many different colors and patterns that make them a beautiful and unique breed. The most common colors are chestnut, black, or bay and the most rare is the color-changing roan.


Known to be a great addition to a family, these horses are very social and enjoy companionship. With their friendly size and inquisitive personality they can provide an experience that a whole family can enjoy.


These adaptable horses have a sturdy physique allowing them to accomplish many different tasks as a horse. They are proportionate and athletic with a beautifully defined face and a compacted body.

Modern Use

Icelandic horses are very versatile and can be used for many different disciplines. They are known to be very easy keepers staying healthy and fit. They are perfect for a family who wants to enjoy the horse and experience a hardy horse that is good minded and athletic.


Additional Information



Breed Organizations


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