Icelandic horse facts: More than 80,000 horses live in Iceland today, all of them descended from a controlled group first carried over by the settlers. In 982 AD, a law was passed forbidding the future import of any foreign horses, so for more than 1,000 years, Icelandic horses have evolved and were bred expressly for the land and climate of Iceland. The breed is so specialized and pure that once a horse leaves Iceland, it is never allowed back in. They are also the most beautiful and friendly horses I've ever encountered. They came up to me without hesitation and studied me with their deep, soulful eyes.
Another fun Icelandic horse fact: Most horses only have four gaits (walk, trot, canter and gallop), but Icelandic horses have a fifth known as tölt. It is between a trot and a canter and is incredibly smooth because there is no "moment of suspension" - the horse always has one foot on the ground and changes at an equal beat. I can't wait to go back someday and ride one of these beautiful and intelligent animals.
By the way, do not call them ponies either... they are horses. Icelanders are sensitive about this (along with referring to skyrr as yogurt...but that's a topic for another time.)