Wind Gait Icelandic Horses 

"Wonderful things come in small packages!"

 

 

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Icelandic Facts: 

  • 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 and strength.

  • 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 4 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.

  • Icelandic's are generally very smart and have great personalities; they learn quickly and like human contact and interaction.

  • You can 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 right circumstances.  

  • 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.  

 

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