Chase the Midnight Sun: Iceland and Canada tours available now!

Most horseback riding tours in Sweden are performed with Icelandic horses. These sweet-tempered yet sturdy animals are a perfect companion on your adventure.  

Horseback riding tours

History of Icelandic Horse

horses in a green field in sweden

This breed first came to Iceland by Viking ship somewhere between 860 and 935 AD. During this time, the Icelandic horse slowly evolved to fit the harsh winter climate. It developed a thick winter coat to withstand low temperatures. The Icelandic horse is not afraid of storms and high wind like most animals and can walk through rough terrain. For some time, the breed was kept exclusively within the island, but the resistant characteristics of the animal helped it populate all over Scandinavia as well as in Sweden. 

Characteristics of Icelandic horse

woman petting two horses in sweden

The Icelandic horse usually weighs between 330 and 380 kilograms (730 and 840 lb) and is between 132 and 142 cm (52 and 56 inches) tall. Although it is often considered the size of a pony, the Icelandic horse is always registered as a "horse" by breeders. 

Icelandic horses come in 40 different colors and over 100 variations, which makes them the most colorful horse breed in the world. The most common colors in Icelandic horses are chestnut and black/brown, but they can vary from white to even red.  

Another special trait of Icelandic horses is their character. They are known for their especially friendly and agreeable personality. Also, they learn and adapt quickly to any given task. They are very persistent and can withstand long walks through harsh conditions and unfavorable terrain. 

The Five Gates

woman horse riding in sweden

What makes the Icelandic horse truly unique is that it’s the only horse in the world that can master five ways of walking instead of 3 or 4. Next to the original walk, gallop, trot, or canter, Icelandic horses also have the tölt and the skeið. The tölt can be described as an elegant way of walking with one foot touching the ground at once. Skeið, also called the “flying pace”, is described as rhythmic gallop. It is used in pacing races, and some horses are even able to reach up to 50 km/h (30 mph).