Iceland Mag

12 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

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Why are Icelandic horses not called ponies?

By Sara McMahon

  • The Icelandic horse is not a pony. The Icelandic horse may be small in stature but please refrain from referring to it as a pony. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

The Icelandic horse may be small in stature, but a pony it is not! So, please refrain from referring to it as one. Icelanders consider it a grave insult to hear this revered animal being called a pony. So beware!
The Icelandic horse is hardy, surefooted and long-lived and through the ages it was fondly termed “the most useful servant”, seeing as it made life in this barren country just a tad bit easier.

Laws prohibit horses to be imported into Iceland, and exported animals are not allowed to return. This has resulted in a very pure and healthy breed of horse. What makes the Icelandic horse unique is that it can display two additional gaits to the typical walk, trot and gallop. The first being a four-beat ambling gait called tölt, and the second being a pace called skeið, or flying pace. The latter gate is fast and smooth with some horses being able to reach up to 48 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). 

The Icelandic horse is hardy, sure-footed and long-lived. Photo/Vilhelm Gunnarsson

 

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