The Icelandic horse has many unique characteristics that differ from other breeds and it is those differentiating characteristics that have made the Icelandic breed famous throughout the world, making the Icelandic horse center of the attention. There are many factors that distinguish them from other horses including physical and psychological aspects that have evolved throughout the centuries. Let’s review some of them.
Icelandic horses weigh between 330 and 380 kilograms and stand an average of 13 and 14 hands (52 and 56 inches, 132 and 142 cm) high, which is often considered pony size, but breeders and breed registries always refer to the Icelandic breed as horses. They have well-proportioned heads, with straight profiles and wide foreheads. The neck is short, muscular, and broad at the base; the withers broad and low; the chest deep; the shoulders muscular and slightly sloping; the back long; the croup broad, muscular, short and slightly sloping. The legs are strong and short, with relatively long cannon bones and short pasterns. The mane and tail are full, with coarse hair, and the tail is set low.
As for psychological factors the Icelandic horses are known for their calmness and intelligence. Throughout the centuries the Icelandic breed has survived in the harsh natural environment that is Iceland, making sure that only individuals with the ability to assess a situation rather than the instinct to flee would survive. As a consequence the Icelandic horses seldom panic nor do they have a natural tendency to spook.
The Icelandic breed has lived in close quarters with humans for much of their history, making them exceptional companion animals. It is safe to say that the breed’s spirited temperament and large personality has become the main trait and characteristic of the Icelandic horse.
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