The Icelandic horse is a unique breed of smallish horses that came to Iceland with the first settlers from Norway 1100 years ago. Archeological digs in Europe have revealed that it is descendent from an ancient breed of horses that is now extinct outside of Iceland, where it has been preserved in isolation. The Icelandic, as it is commonly referred to, is known for being sure-footed and able to cross rough terrain. It displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The first additional gait is a four-beat lateral ambling gait called tölt. Tölt is known for its explosive acceleration and speed; It is also comfortable and ground covering.
The breed also performs a pace called skeið, or "flying pace". Skeið is used in pacing races, and is fast and smooth, with some horses able to reach up to 50 km/h.
The Icelandic horse comes in many different colors, and the Icelandic language includes more than 100 names for the various colors and color patterns. It is considered to be a small horse, only weighing around 380kgs. It has a spirited temperament and a large personality.
The Icelandic horse is long-lived and hardy and has become very popular internationally. A sizable population exists in Europe and North America. In their native country they have few diseases; and as a result Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return.
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