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Icelandic Horses

We spent much of the middle of the day at a ranch. I’m not sure if they make more money from selling their horses to points all around the world, or taking in tourists. They certainly had a practiced set up.

First we ate lunch, which consisted of the usual fair – salad bar, great bread, soup, and sliced meat. We were told the meat was horse, but it tasted just like beef. Yes, I am the kind of person who could happily eat Flicka.

We were then herded out onto the porch which was in the process of being converted into bleachers to watch the show. They brought out three horses and literally put them through their paces – running them around a track over and over.


Icelandic horses are unique for a variety of reasons. For instance, they come in a wide range of colors and color combinations. Blue eyes are not uncommon. Thick manes aren’t uncommon. Though stocky of build, they make a pretty picture.

Some of it stems from having bred in isolation for 800 years. This resulted in their having zero immunity to common horse ailments. Because of this, any horse that leaves Iceland can never come back. They don’t even give quarantine a chance. Gone once, gone forever. No horse that was born outside of Iceland can emigrate. It’s a one way street.

That said, all of the major horse shows and competitions for Icelandic horses take place outside of Iceland. In order for Icelandic ranchers to get top dollar for their horses, they need to win competitions, but once they’ve done so, they can’t come back.

They are a small bread of horse, so much so that the owners tend to be a bit touchy when people call them ponies. They may be small, but they are sturdy. They had no problems carrying their riders around the track.

The announcer/owner likened them to Mongolian horses. I found the Mongolian horses a bit rougher. Or maybe that was just the saddles. Where I got the chance to ride the horses in Mongolia, I did not get the chance to ride the ones in Iceland. There are certainly some similarities.

They are known for having five gaits. Our announcer said they are the only breed in the world with the fifth gait. They can Walk, Tölt, Trot, Pace, and Canter or Gallop. Tölt was said to be a peculiarly smooth ride. They even demonstrated with a glass of beer.

After the show we were invited to cross the parking lot into the stables. They had a reception area, an arena, and paddocks. Quite a few horses were in their stalls or out in the corral. We wandered freely, checking them out.

We weren’t the only ones petting the stable dog and horses, and generally making a tolerated nuisance of yourselves. A much larger group came in right behind us at the meal and more or less followed along the whole way.

After their show, we found some similar horses hanging out in the corral. I guess they were itchy

They had quite the collection of horse shoes. I think that says a bit about how many horses they keep in the property. The trophies on the wall said a bit about how many they send abroad.

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