Icelandic Furry Friends

Posted on Categories Animals, history, Iceland, NatureTags , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When Iceland was first settled, back in the 9th century, the only native land mammal was the Arctic Fox. They came to the island at the end of the ice age, when frozen water was connecting Iceland with North America. The settlers were the ones bringing all the other Icelandic domestic breeds. 

Due to the island’s geographic isolation, most of the breeds have remained unchanged since. The Icelandic horse is a well-known example of this and of course the farmers best friend, the Icelandic sheepdog.   

These both amiable and furry creatures first came to Iceland with the Nordic Vikings, the original settlers of Iceland. 

 

The Icelandic Sheepdog

In terrain like in Iceland, the breed developed flexibility, strength, patience, as well as independence. Additionally, with being easily trainable, the dog became an excellent herder of sheep and other domestic animals. Also, with its loud bark, they made great guard dogs and protected the lamb from predators like eagles.

Today, not only he is the farmers’ favorite little helper and a great household pet. The Icelandic sheepdog is also helping in a variety of jobs, like avalanche tracking and field searches.

 

The Icelandic Horse

Like all the other non-native mammals, Nordic settlers brought the first horses on the island. More precisely, coming from British Isles between 860 and 935 AD. Known for being easy-going and friendly, the Icelandic horse is famous for its welcoming and nurturing temperament.

They are exactly like their country, little but strong! Their muscular silhouette,  shaggy fur, and small height (140 cm) typify them. Normally, we consider most horse breeds that are shorter than 147 cm as ponies. That being said, you can ask any Icelander, the answer will be the same; they are not ponies, they are horses!

While other horse breeds may perform 3 or 4 gaits (ways of walking), this Nordic beauty has the ability to perform 5. The Tölt and the Pace are the additional gaits to the common Walk, Trot, and Gallop.

The Icelandic horses have marked a lot the history of their island. Worldwide, they are known for being loyal, pleasant and strong creatures. Doubtlessly, they are popular for their camaraderie and comfortable ride.

 

Fun fact:

During medieval times, the Icelandic sheepdog was quite popular amongst the British.   Not only for sheep farmers but also as pets for elites. William Shakespeare even mentioned the Icelandic dog in his popular play Henry V.

Icelanders are very protective of their horse breed. First of all, authorities do not allow any other horse breed to enter the country, and this since 982 AD. Nonetheless, any Icelandic horse leaving Iceland is not allowed to enter back in either! Hence, there are more Icelandic horses living outside of Iceland then in.

 

Catch a selfie with the Icelandic Horse

Posted on Categories IcelandTags , , , , ,

The Icelandic horse.
Originally from Mongolian descent, the Icelandic horse was moved here from Scandinavia by vikings more than 1000 years ago. It is aesthetically unique as it is shorter than other horse breeds. It also is built very strong and is conditioned to handle the worst kinds of weathers. It is generally easy to train and has a mild temperament which is one of the reasons the Icelandic horse is admired by horse lovers all over the world. There is just something very adorable about the Icelandic horse with those kind, intelligent eyes and shaggy long hair.

Horseback riding tours have been very popular tourist activity in Iceland for some years and still is, but now with the popularity of social media we are seeing another trend within our horse loving visitors which includes ‘selfies’ with the Icelandic horse.
When driving along route 1 you will often see travelers pulled over on the side of the road with the sole intention to catch a photographs of the Icelandic horse and some even try to feed them grass to lure them closer.

Sturlureykir horse petting and selfie stop.
Unfortunately due to the unforeseen weather and road conditions in Iceland it is not recommended to pull over aside the main road for the obvious reason of causing a road accident and it is also not popular by many horse owners and farmers that their horses are feed without permission. Some claim that it may ‘teach their horses bad habits’.
To solve this problem, a couple who breed and train horses in West Iceland decided to set up the perfect petting- and selfie-stop for horse lovers at their farm Sturlureykir in Borgarfjörður fjord! Sturlureykir has offered horse tours for more than two decades, but the new service will satisfy the needs of a broader group of travelers. For a small entrance fee visitors who might have a busy schedule can get a personal experience with horses and an Icelandic horse farm. The new meet-and-greet stable opened on June 1 and will remain open each day from 10-16, year-round.

Happy and Safe petting!