Welcome to the Icelandic Horse Gait Show
Over a thousand years ago, the Vikings brought horses with them from Norway and Great Britain to this island of ice and fire. For centuries horses were the only means of transportation on land and were used to carry both people and goods. The conditions that formed the Icelandic horse were weather and natural disasters, such as volcanic eruptions, as well as short summers and long winters. One can say that horses and nature belong together. Even the colors are similar. The horse became a status symbol, the means of transportation, a friend and a trusted working partner. Often it has been called “the most useful servant”
In the Icelandic Sagas many stories are told about horses, their use and role in the lives of Icelanders. In many of these stories the horse has a god-like stature and appearance. The god Odin rode the eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, who was the strongest of all horses. The horse is prominent in Icelandic literature, poetry, history and arts.
Today the role of the horse has changed, it is a riding, breeding and a competition horse. The horse has developed strong nerves, great variety in colors, high fertility and good temperament. Young horses run free their first years and they develop their own personalities in their own environment. The horse does not need the humans but people in Iceland needed the horse to survive for a very long time, this might be one of the reasons why the relationship between humans and horses in Iceland is so special.
There are many qualities that distinguish the Icelandic horse from other breeds. Chief among these qualities are its five gaits, which distinguishes it from all other three-gaited breeds. The five gaits, walk, trot, tölt, canter, pace are all considered valuable and important in a good Icelandic horse
is a four-beat gait where the feet touch the ground in equal intervals. The horse has either three or two feet on the ground at all times.
is a two-beat gait where the horse pushes itself on diagonals, from one pair of feet to the other pair. The horse body moves up and down and it pushes itself between diagonals with suspension: no feet are on the ground.
is a three-beat gait with suspension. The horse is said to be in a right or left canter depending on which hind foot it uses to push into the gait. The left hind pushes the horse into a right canter and the right hind pushes the horse into a left canter. Slow canter is with three beats and suspension, with no foot, one foot, two feet or three feet on the ground. Gallop is the fastest gait and has four beats.
is a natural, fluid gait of the Icelandic Horse, during which at least one foot always touches the ground. It is an extraordinarily smooth four-beat gait.
The footfall is the same pattern as the walk, but is much faster almost as fast as a gallop and it can also be almost as slow as walk.
is a fast, high speed gait, during which both legs on one side of the horse simultaneously touch the ground. The gait is used for short distances, and can equal the speed of a full gallop. Being a two-beat gait, at one interval all four hooves of the Icelandic Horse are suspended off the ground during a flying pace.