Their height ranges from about 12.0 to
about 14 hands
and their weight averages from 700 - 1050 pounds. Because of their short
stature, it's easy to underestimate the weight of an Icelandic.
Generally, they have large cannon bones, contributing weight
Icelanders and most breeders bristle when you
refer to these animals as "ponies". They are suitable for
most adult riders, and "pony" doesn't convey the proper dignity
and respect they deserve. But, ponies, they are!
Icelandic's are usually very
stocky, and frequently much stronger than horses
of their height - most have a lot of bone compared to more refined
horses and ponies. Good indications of weight carrying ability
are big cannon bones, wide-sprung ribs, and width of the pelvis.
Height has nothing to do with weight-carrying ability! Obviously, some
Icelandic's are more suited to carrying very big adults than
others. See my Weight Carrying
notes for my full thoughts.
The Vikings took the Icelandic's' ancestors to
Iceland over 1000 ago years ago. Soon after, the government banned importation of all livestock, a ban that is
still in place today. Only the strongest, healthiest, smartest, and
sweetest horses survived the rough winters. Because of
this early ban, Icelandic's are the only breed found in Iceland.
Most Icelandic's are very easy keepers.
There's evidence that the long years in harsh environments caused their
digestive tracts to evolve to absorb food more efficiently.
Icelandic's are generally not started under the saddle until they
are 4½ or five years of age. They grow until the age of seven. The
oldest horse ever recorded was an Icelandic mare in Europe who died at age 57.
are generally very smart and have great
personalities; they learn
quickly and like human contact and interaction.
find Icelandic's in almost every color imaginable, solids and pintos.
Flashy silver and flaxen manes are not unusual, as are solids and pintos of
blacks, bays, palominos, all colors of duns, grays, and
chestnuts. Silver dapple, a dilution of bay or black, is not an unusual
color among Iceys.
Icelandic's are usually smooth in all their
gaits. Their gaits include the normal walk, trot and canter, but also
add tolt and flying pace. Tolt is a four-beat "square" gait,
similar to the rack or running walk that is heaven for trail riding.
Many Icelandics can also perform other soft gaits too, such as running walk,
foxtrot, and stepping pace. The fifth gait
that is acknowledged and shown is flying pace.
This gait is rarely used outside competition, since it's hard on the horses. It
truly gives the feeling of flying and can be performed at speeds up to
30mph. A few Icelandic's may be virtually three-gaited, with only
walk, trot and canter. A few others may not trot easily but prefer to
perform only soft gaits, or even the pacey gaits. We will not breed
those trotty or pacey horses, although they may make wonderful mounts in the
Icelandic's are great for trail riding because they
generally are not afraid
and rarely spook. Their calm disposition makes it possible to find
individual horses suitable for fearful riders, yet their strength and endurance makes them great for
advanced riders too. They are used for endurance riding, therapeutic riding, showing,
jumping, and driving They have even been used for team penning.
Icelandic's are known for their wonderful,
calm dispositions. Most of them are
extremely gentle and easy-going. They like
people and have a genuine desire to please. Most are unusually safe around children.
Summer eczema ("SE"
or "sweet itch") is very common in Icelandic's born outside of
North American, particularly in Iceland, but is no more common in
domestic-born Icelandic's than in any other breed. There are virtually
no insects in Iceland due to the cold weather, so foals born there do not
get bitten, and develop immunities as do horses born in the USA and
Canada. Therefore, their immune systems may be overloaded when they
are suddenly exposed to all the new allergens. Humid, warm, buggy
areas are problem zones, and seems to include virtually all of the east
coast of North America. Some areas west of the Mississippi also have
the conditions too. None of our horses suffer from SE, but only one of
our horses is an import.