It's really no secret... Icelanders love their horses.
This may may be why there are 80,000 horses in this land of less than 300,000 people.
Even at first glance it's easy to see why these creatures are held in such high regard.
Small in stature, they are usually possessed of a wild and flowing mane and come in a rich variety of colors from chestnut to pure white.
They are also gentle-natured, but are as charismatic in action as they are quietly standing alone in a pasture.
Hardy, dynamic, and sure of foot (so they can survive the rocky volcanic terrain and harsh winters), Icelandic horses are known to be the descendants of horses from Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland and The Isle of Man. Around 900 AD, when Iceland was settled, emigrants from these areas brought their livestock with them and the hardy breed was eventually developed from those early imports.
Today, along with their extraordinary appearance Icelandic horses are unique in other ways, as well.
While the walk, trot and canter or gallop are familiar in all horses, the Icelandic breed tops them all with with the tölt, a steady even walk that doesn't jostle the rider as most horse's
The flying pace is a thrilling speed run that is also unique to this special breed which has made it quite popular with professional show riders throughout Europe and North America.
As further testament to how much they are revered, the Icelandic horse's genetic pool is currently protected by strict government rules against importing into the country any other horse breed in order to keep the present one purely Icelandic.
More about Icelandic horses around the Web:
Online - Online version of the magazine dedicated to Icelandic horses, and check the stallions section and lots of related photos, news, feature articles.
FEIF - FEIF is the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations. They represent associations throughout Europe that are dedicated to raising Icelandic horses. Competitions, training and information on the expansion of the breed outside of Iceland can be found through this organization.
Hestakaup.com - With every topic complemented by a selection of videos, this site is well designed, easy to use, has plenty of good information and resources - and it's fun to visit.