The Icelandic horse - Icelandic pony
This small and quite wonderful pony was brought to Iceland with the Vikings over a thousand years ago. The breed remains pure because of the country's isolation.
The Icelandic horse has an amazing variety of colors and is known for its five gaits, the most popular being the "tölt".
You really shouldn’t leave Iceland without going riding at least once! I assure you there are few things as amazingly fulfilling as horse back riding in the middle of nowhere in Iceland - with not another soul in sight, preferably with some rain and wind - just be sure to wear one of the characteristic Icelandic woolen sweaters under your raincoat and you will be just fine.
And if you happen to see some elves or even trolls during your ride, so much the better! Didn't I tell you already? Always expect the unexpected when touring Iceland...
The horse is very important to Icelanders and a great attraction for many visitors. You'll love getting to know it. The horse has played quite a role in our country from the beginning as you can see if you read the Icelandic Sagas. A good horse was simply indispensable to the Vikings and warriors.
Means of Transportation
The horse was also our only means of transportation in Iceland for many centuries and also the most important working animal before the age of machinery. And believe it or not – my own grandparents traveled on horseback until the big moment when my grandfather bought his first car in the 1950s...
After the introduction of the first automobile in Iceland in 1904 the breed was kept alive by enthusiastic individuals and horse breeding associations. They thrive today as never before!
Many inhabitants of Reykjavík have their own horses in stalls on the outskirts of the city where they can take care of them daily. And if you go for a walk in the beautiful Elliðaárdalur in Reykjavík, chances are you will see many people horseback riding.
Large Number of Horses
Today we have around 80.000 horses in the country, which is a lot considering that the “human inhabitants” only number ca. 300.000. Thousands of people enjoy horse riding as a hobby while the only practical use is during the annual roundup of the sheep in the highlands.
The Icelandic Horse and the Highlands
Many people, both Icelandic and foreign, enjoy traveling in the Icelandic highlands on horseback. It is a unique way of experiencing the rough beauty of unspoiled nature and magnificent landscape. If you really want to get in touch with nature and the horse, this is the perfect way.
The quality of the Icelandic horse is unique. Pure-bred for over a thousand years it is very intelligent, good tempered, versatile and beautiful.
Over 40 different colors of the horse exist with ca. 100 variations. People often name their horses according to their colors such as Rauður (Red), Gráni (Grey) etc.
The horse has five gaits, among them the famous “tölt”. It is a very smooth four-beat gait in which the horse moves its feet in the same order as in the walk.
Furthermore this delightful horse is both strong and enthusiastic. It usually responds calmly in traffic and is quite self-assured.