The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small, at times pony-sized, most registries for the Icelandic refer to it as a horse. Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy. In their native country they have few diseases.
The ancestors of the Icelandic horse were probably taken to Iceland by the Vikings between 860 and 935 AD. The breed is mentioned in literature and historical records throughout Icelandic history. Horses were worshipped in Norse mythology, a custom brought to Iceland by the country’s earliest settlers. Selective breeding over the centuries has developed the breed into its current form.
The Icelandic is a “five-gaited” breed, known for its sure-footedness and ability to cross rough terrain. As well as the typical gaits of walk, trot, and canter/gallop, the breed is noted for its ability to perform two additional gaits. Although most horse experts consider the canter and gallop to be separate gaits, on the basis of a small variation in the footfall pattern, Icelandic breed registries consider the canter and gallop one gait, hence the term “five-gaited”.-
A tan colored horse with darker brown on its hindquarters being ridden in a dirt ring by a rider in black formal attire.
The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait known as the tölt. This is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; it is also comfortable and ground-covering.There is considerable variation in style within the gait, and thus the tölt is variously compared to similar lateral gaits such as the rack of the Saddlebred, the largo of the Paso Fino, or the running walk of the Tennessee Walking Horse. Like all lateral ambling gaits, the footfall pattern is the same as the walk (left hind, left front, right hind, right front), but differs from the walk in that it can be performed at a range of speeds, from the speed of a typical fast walk up to the speed of a normal canter. Some Icelandic horses prefer to tölt, while others prefer to trot; correct training can improve weak gaits, but the tölt is a natural gait present from birth.
The breed also performs a pace called a skeið, flugskeið or “flying pace”. It is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach up to 30 miles per hour (48 km/h). Not all Icelandic horses can perform this gait; animals that perform both the tölt and the flying pace in addition to the traditional gaits are considered the best of the breed. The flying pace is a two-beat lateral gait with a moment of suspension between footfalls; each side has both feet land almost simultaneously (left hind and left front, suspension, right hind and right front). It is meant to be performed by well-trained and balanced horses with skilled riders.
In Romania the Icelandic Horses Riding Ranch in Ivo (Izvoare) was the first ranch who imported these horses from Iceland and Austria. Currently we have 31 horses. We have chosen the icelandic because its friendly and calm manner. This breed offers a comfortable and secure ride which makes icelandics a pleasure to ride for everyone.