Breed Characteristics 

The Icelandic horse

While the breed is usually 12 – 14 hh they are strong and capable of carrying a fully grown adult. Very good natured, and are bred as much for temperament as for their other attributes. Stocky, compact bodies with short strong limbs together with a thick fuzzy winter coat, makes them tough and weather resistant. In summer they are shiny and sleek. They are sure footed, willing, naturally curious and generally very sensible and easily taught. 

Icelandics usually love to check out what their humans are up to.  Being naturally  keen to help, they can be a great source of amusement. Icelandic horse hugs are very special, so good when you've had a rough day. They have a special quality that helps to build up peoples confidence. The community of Icelandic horse people are pretty good at hugs, keeping it real and encouraging each other too. 

Being slow to mature the Icelandic horse is rarely put under saddle, or a mare bred until 4 years of age. However their lifespan and working life are long… many working until they are 25 – 30 years old and horses 35 – 40 years old are apparently quite common.

 

The Icelandics have a saying that a good horse has no colour. With breeding focus on other qualities natural colour variation of the breed has been retained. They come in most shades and combinations like blue dun, bay dun, palomino, skewbald, pinto, silver dapple, chestnut, bay etc. It is truly stunning to see a mixture of these coloured horses running as a herd.

Gaits of the Icelandic Horses

The Icelandic breed have 5 natural gaits – the walk, trot, Tolt, canter and Pace. Those who have the basic gaits plus tolt are called four gaited. If they can tolt and pace they are known as five gaited.

There are different classes at competitions for five and four gaited horses.

WALK

TOLT

TROT

CANTER

PACE

TOLT is the unique gait of the icelandic horse breed. It is extremely smooth and can be ridden comfortably by the rider for long periods of time on even ground. It is a four beat gait with the same footfall as the walk, with no suspension, at least one foot is always in contact with the ground. Its four beat sounds like paca paca paca paca ( say it a few times fast!). The tolt can be ridden very slow or fast to the speed of a canter. A tolting horse is magic to ride and you really need to try it to understand exactly what we mean. Usually a very happy grin appears on the riders face when they get the full experience of riding tolt.  No other horse gaits quite like an Icelandic. 

PACE is a two beat gait where the horses legs move laterally with a moment of suspension. It is often called the flying pace as it gives the rider the feeling of doing just that. The flying pace can reach speeds of up to 30mph for short distances over flat ground. Pace races are a bit like watching drag racing on horseback!  

Versatility

One of the things we've found out over the years is just how versatile the icelandics can be. It's pretty normal to aim to breed stallions whom can not only be ridden in competition, but also at home by the kids and family for pleasure. A few of their natural talents seem to be Jumping, harness, western, stock horses, dressage, ponyclub, endurance, vaulting, RDA, trekking, pleasure riding and competition.

There is a famous icelandic horse called Remington - he sounds like an absolute character. He entered the US endurance Hall of Fame in 2014. Well worth Googling Remington and his owner John Parke for more of their story. It is humorous as well as heartwarming. 

Within our herd we have so many different personalities, types and abilities and get so much joy from everything we do with them. 

Want to know more about the breed? 

Want to meet the icelandics? Send us a message to arrange a farm visit & email us your questions. 

© 2017 by Haldane Icelandic Horses