The ancestors of the Icelandic Horse were probably taken to Iceland by the Vikings more than 1100 years ago.
In 982, the Icelandic Althing passed laws prohibiting the importation of horses into Iceland. For this reason, we have a unique breed in the form of strong and tölting horses today. Natural selection played a major role in the development of the breed and those which survived are healthy, strong and hardy. They served for many years as versatile transportation horses in rough terrain and became exceptionally reliable, strong, extremely sure-footed and comfortable riding horses with a lot of spirit.
The Icelandic Horse has been, and is up to now, a workhorse with the greatest emphases on good rideabilities. It shall be brave and independent, hardworking, willing and cooperative. The breed is known to be hardy and requires little care, where a good character is particularly important. Icelandic horses are suitable for almost all kinds of work, for easy going horseback rides, as family horses, for distance rides or as competition horses.
The success of the Icelandic Horses' triumphal march through Europe and Northern America has mainly been made up by their special gaits.
Except of the three typical horse gaits of walk, trot and canter/gallop, this breed is known for its ability to perform two additional natural gaits: tölt and pace.