by Snow Vampire
This is about Iceland
|I am not sure where I first heard about the Icelandic horse, perhaps I discovered it while watching a documentary on the Public Broadcasting Station. Wherever it was, the horse fascinated me because of its size, and the sight of it running across the Icelandic landscape. Now that I have discovered more about this beautiful and ancient equine, I know that I love it.
Oldest bred of horse
Most beautiful in the world
Iceland has a human population of over 300,000 and a horse population of approximately 80,000.1 The Icelandic horse is sturdy, small, and has a long life span. The ancestors of these beautiful animals were brought to Iceland by the Vikings sometime in the ninth or tenth centuries. A combination selective breeding and natural selection, as a result of Iceland's unforgiving climate, have gone into creating the present Icelandic horse. This makes these horses desirable all over Earth, and there are horse breeding societies in, at least, nineteen countries dedicated to equine beauties.2
These pony-like animals are between fifty-two to fifty-six inches tall and weigh somewhere between seven hundred thirty to eight hundred forty pounds. Despite their size, these animals are always called horses. This is because of their prodigious personalities, and their fiery spirits. Other attributes, that define these animals as horses, is their ability to work and carry large packs. In Iceland, these horses are used both for show and work, which goes into making these animals desirable. One intriguing feature, of this sure-footed, breed is their gaits. These animals have five gaits, which consists of the normal four gaits of ordinary horse plus the tölt. The tölt is characterized by sudden and extremely fast burst of speed.3
Horses allowed to roam free
In Iceland, which is a favored tourist destination, a good road trip (at least according to one website) is by horse back. Tourist, seeking this type of adventure, go to Skagafjörður, which "is known as the cradle of the Icelandic horse"4. Skagafjörður, is in northern Iceland, is the place to go if a person wants to see herds of Icelandic horses roaming free and grazing in exquisite meadows. An individual, who wants to go on this type of adventure, should be aware of the temperament of the horse, and his or her ability to ride. The reason for this is that Icelandic horse have "a mind of their own"5, which means there may be some difficulty in controlling the horse when it wants to go in a different direction.
Laws forbid importation
There are different breeds of Icelandic horses because each breeder focuses on a specific attribute. For instance, one breeder may prefer horses that can carry packs or be used as draft animals, while another might want suited to riding or show. One of the more interesting, and unusual, Icelandic laws concerning these horses. It is forbidden to import horses from outside of Iceland, but horses can be exported. However, any horse that is exported cannot return to Iceland. This has several advantages, one of which is to protect the horses from different diseases that could be brought into the country.6 Any one wishing to ride an Icelandic horse either has to find a breeder outside of Iceland or visit Iceland.