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Home Activities The Icelandic Horse: Our Most Indispensable Servant

The Icelandic Horse: Our Most Indispensable Servant

The Icelandic Horse is a remarkable beast. Certainly, along with the fruits of the sea, life in Iceland would not have been possible without the Icelandic horse.

It is celebrated, revered and respected. The first settlers of Iceland brought horses with them and they have been here ever since. Popular with stables and horse breeders all over the world, the Icelandic is extremely sure-footed, has a gentle temperament and is most famous for the fact that it has (or knows) a fifth trot known as the tölt.

The tölt is a fast-paced, high-acceleration four beat lateral ambling gait unique to this breed. The breed also performs a pace known as a skeið, flugskeið or “flying pace”, and with this pace it can reach a speed of 30mph/48 kph. Its an incredible thing. For these reasons, the Icelandic horse is revered valued not just in Iceland but all over the world, with 40% of the total global population of Icelandic horses having been exported out of Iceland. In 982 AD, the Icelandic Aþingi passed a law banning the importation of horses. This law stands to this day, and the Icelandic horse remains the only type of horse in Iceland.

For every Icelandic horse, leaving Iceland is a one way street once a horse is exported, it is not allowed to return. This is a necessary measure to protect the health of the population within Iceland, which has been successfully maintained as disease free since time immemorial. 2018 sees the return of a an event which only takes place every other year: Landsmót. Landsmót is a celebration of the Icelandic Horse, right here in Iceland. The best horses (and riders) compete in show jumping and other competitions for best-in-show. It is an immensely important cultural event, and we strongly advise anybody in Iceland right now, especially in the Reykjavik area since it is being held in Reykjavik, to go along and check it out.

It runs until Sunday July 8th! If you don’t get a chance to go to Landsmót, then at least make sure you ride an Icelandic Horse. Its an amazing experience, you will truly be in the hooves of the vikings!

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