The Icelandic horse {Hestur}

Eva Frischling

In the year 870 the first Vikings came to Iceland. On their ships they brought sheep, dogs and horses. The Icelandic horse originates from various pony and central European horse breeds and was essential to the Vikings. Up to around the year 1926 horses were needed for transportation and as load carriers because there was no road network yet. The horses adapted to the rough terrain and developed two further gaits: the tölt and the flying pace. Icelandic horses come in nearly all colours and shades. Because Iceland is so isolated from the European and American mainland, there was very little cross breeding with other horse species. Ever since 1909 a ban on horse imports has guaranteed the pureness of the breed and has prevented the import of diseases and epidemics.

Because of the large distances between villages and various other factors making travel a bit difficult, several variations of the breed developed. Today the Icelandic horse is at home not only in Iceland but in many parts of Europa and the Americas as well.


Txt & Images: Eva Frischling
Excerpt from “Lebensgefühl Island” / “Soul of Iceland”
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