Icelanders - the dainty dancers

Today's equestrian sport would be unthinkable without them - the handy little ones with the enchantingly wispy mane and incomparable robustness. In this country they are affectionately called "Isi". The Icelanders started a real mass movement when they arrived in our country at that time. 

At that time, "equestrian sport" meant only dressage and jumping on long-legged warm-blooded horses - Now a different world is emerging. The enjoyment of recreational riding is coming more and more to the fore and attitudes to animal husbandry have improved considerably. Robust horses are on the rise and are standing up to the "big ones". Icelandic horses play their part in this.

Read more about these interesting gaited horses! Maybe you too will catch the Nordic fever.

Exterior, interior and various coat colours

When you look at these little gait wonders, you really recognise a picture book pony. They range in height from about 1.30 metres to about 1.45 metres. They have a strong, harmonious stature. The croup is sloping and has a low tail. The long coat of the Isi's is very pronounced, full and besides the attentive eyes and the delicate nostrils a further distinguishing feature. The pretty little ones have a solid bone base and hard hooves.

When it comes to Icelandic coat markings, the saying goes: Nothing is impossible! There really is a huge variety of colour combinations. From chestnuts and browns to grey, black and piebald, everything is represented. There are also other colour tones such as earth-coloured, wind-coloured and mouse-grey nuances. Some of the ponies even show early stripes on their feet. Almost like a zebra. Only tiger pieds you won't find in a group of Icelandic horses.

The inner values of the pretty ones are consistent with their outer appearance. They are great co-workers, sure-footed, courageous, quite independent and behave respectfully towards their humans. Icelandic horses show a willingness to perform in all riding disciplines and offer a reinable forward drive. Their small body is full of temperament.


These hoofed animals are ideally suited for open stabling. They are very herd animals and would certainly not live a happy life separated in a box. As Icelandic horses digest their feed well, a high quality roughage plus minerals distributed throughout the day is usually sufficient.

The gaits of the Icelandic

The fascinating thing about the Icelandic horse is not only its appearance and robustness. The special gaits he offers are a dream for every rider. Even at higher speeds, Icelandic horses give us a super-comfortable seat feeling with the least amount of vibration. How is this possible?

These ponies have an innate disposition. Besides walk, trot and canter, they also offer the tölt (also rideable in different tempi) and the racepass (mainly a competition gait).

In the tölt, they straighten up in front and, unlike in the trot, the front leg and equilateral hind leg go forward/back together. The swing phase is less upwards as in the conventional trot. Fully "easy"!

But these horse gaits have to be learned. Because: You have to be able to ride out these walking techniques cleanly! Not all Icelandic horses have the same tölt gait. This requires a sure instinct and careful training of horse and rider. You can get an idea of this at an Icelandic horse stud. There you will also notice that these gaited horses wear a different saddle on their back.

The Icelandic saddle is a little longer and the seat is flatter. It is worn further back because the ponies need a lot of shoulder room. A "normal" riding saddle usually does not fit snugly, has a withers chamber that is too high and a seat that is too low. The stirrup bar length for tölt is longer. The Isi saddle also has curved safety bars. Exemplary!

Icelandic horse breeding

In fact, the history of Icelandic horses is very interesting. As early as the ninth century, Norwegian farmers took their animals to the fiery island. They owned Germanic and Celtic ponies. Over the next centuries, these two enormously tough breeds developed into the Icelandic horses. A legislative assembly regulated the breeding of the animals at that time. Icelandic horses have been purebred for about 1000 years. To this day, a ban on imports prohibits either foreign breeds of horses or Icelandic animals that have left the country for competition purposes from entering the country.

The barren Iceland did not make life easy for the little horses. And so only the strongest among them survived. It hardened the ponies and produced a strong and healthy breed. The people of the beautiful island love their horses very much. In legends and poetic texts, the locals praise their favourites. The fuzzy ponies are the pride of the Icelandic nation.

Summary - tough little fellows conquer hearts

Not only children fall in love with the shaggy northern lights, for their endless charm and rideability simply enchant. It is a fact that the little gaited horses are a positive addition to our equestrian sport. It's not for nothing that they say: The best 5-gear transmission in the world comes from Iceland! Well, have you now got the desire for the Isi feeling?

Animalon's brush recommendation for the Icelandic horse:

The rubber nubs of the Care Flex massage currycomb massage the gaited horses and brush the dirt and dust out of the coat.

Afterwards, we recommend the use of the Care Flex card brush which effectively removes the loose dust and dirt from the horse's coat.