The horses of Iceland have been shaped by the nature of their country. Iceland is an active volcanic island, which contributes to a soil rich with minerals as well as quite a unique vegetation that also has adapted to the intense seasons.
Studies have shown that the quality of hay made in Iceland often is very high nowadays. Before the technology of plastic wrapped haylage bales, this was not always the case since the summer weather can be quite unpredictable. But with the option of safe storing of the feed, the true quality of the grass is preserved and proves to be ideal nutrition for the horses.
adapted to harsh climate
Winters can be long, but due to the Gulf stream, they are much milder than the geographical situation might suggest. The weather can be quite extreme and the horses are well adapted to this harsh climate, with their thick double layered winter coat. Another important factor is their ability to store fat, accumulated through the summer and autumn and serves as an insulation but also as a reserve of energy when less and less food is available as the winter moves on.
couragous but calm
In Iceland, the horses are actually the only domesticated animal that is kept outdoors all year around still today, and if they have good land to graze on with natural shelter, they might not need any extra feeding at all and still be fat and healthy by spring. The Icelandic terrain is vast and rugged and the horses learn from early on how to move easily on the uneven ground, cope with mountains and crags, and crossing rivers. This makes the horses both genuine and powerful, and many continental riders find that horses raised in Iceland have something a bit special, due to their natural upbringing with minimum human interference. Courage, curiosity, self-reliance and calm – these are the shaping factors of nature.