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How many of us are in pursuit of the perfect horse. A friendly companion. Many horse lovers for years have dreamed about finding a horse that fits in perfectly with the New England climate, rides easily, doesn't kick or bite, has minimal vet bills and has the temperament of a calming pet. Yet, when they want a stimulating ride, they want to” hold on” because the horse can move. We think we found it. It started with the large husky Vikings going into battle in the far North, riding his trusty steed, carrying his sword and armor. These large warriors rode the Icelandic horse into victory. They knew something many have ignored for centuries. Smaller, trustworthy and with great maneuverability, feeding on the artic tundra, requiring little shelter, the Icelandics great heritage has given us a horse that has gained a tremendous following here in New England . It is the perfect horse for young and old alike.

Smaller and friendly, the Icelandic is finding many friends within the riding world. Former avid horse riders in their youth are now returning to riding these smaller, hardy horses as they move into their 40's and 50's. Less fear of falling, no biting, ease of getting on and off, lower to the ground, a renewed love affair with the horse is sweeping the horse shows, for beginners to the most experienced dressage and competition riders. Parents once fearful of their child on a large horse, now see a great pet, easy to care for winning the hearts of their children and parents, while costing the family considerably less. Today's youth are now discovering these horses and when they do, there is no turning back. Intelligent and good tempered, it is virtually unknown for an Icelandic to bite or kick. Docile and beautiful in many, many colors, the Icelandic, known for its high stepping movements and smooth ride, is becoming the family horse of choice for many families in New England , as it is a horse for everyone, suitable for leisure and pleasure riding as well as competitions.

The Icelandic horse is unique in that it has five gaits: walk, trot, canter/gallop and 2 other gaits, the tolt and flying pace. The Icelandic horse is most noted for its smooth, four beat gait, the tolt. It is comfortable for the rider and we say that one could sip coffee quite easily in this gait. The tolt is a forward movement that is fluid, rhythmic and pleasureable allowing the horse to move effortlessly across the terrain at speeds up to 30 miles per hour, naturally without bouncing or tossing in the saddle and carrying up to 300 pounds, while its abundant mane flows in the wind. The tolt can be ridden at many speeds from a slow, collected tolt to very extended and fast where other horses may have to gallop to keep up. The flying pace is a two beat gait in which the horse moves both legs on the same side together. Not all Icelandics can pace, but those that do and can manage all five gaits well are considered the best of the breed.

The history of the Icelandic horse dates back to the settlement of the country in the late 9 th century. For more than 1000 years, the Icelandic horse has played a major role in the history of Iceland and remains the only breed in Iceland . In a nation of close to 300,000 people, there are just over 80,000 horses. Because of its purity, none of the major infectious horse diseases are found in Iceland . The Iclelandics are hearty and are easy keepers. The Icelandic horse is intelligent, well-tempered, versatile and beautiful with over 40 colors and 100 variations. Iceland never had predators large enough to be a threat to the horse, but has harsh extremes in weather with varied and treacherous terrain. As a result, the survival of the horse has been to assess situations rather than flee and seem to lack the spookiness of, most other breeds. You will find Icelandics to take care of and respect their riders. The Icelandic horse ranges from 13 to 14 hands yet can carry two-thirds of their weight.

The Icelandic horse can be used not only in all the traditional Icelandic disciplines, but also classic sport competitions, dressage and jumping .They love human companionship. Their willing temperament when ridden and their calmness and kindness when being handled are just a few of the many charming characteristics that set them apart. Companionship, I like to say a soulmate in the horse form, a horse that can be used in dressage, jump, drive, and compete with amazing stamina. The Icelandic is a horse for everyone being suitable for pleasure riding and top level competition. Whatever you desire, the Icelandic will fulfill your dream. We encourage all who love horses to ride an Icelandic and you will never look at horses the same way again.

For more information on the Icelandic horse and to view, contact Lori Leo, Four Winds Farm, 617-827-2001, www.fourwindsicelandics.com , in Hanover Massachusetts .