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Icelandic Horse Connection

What Icelandic Horses Need to Know in Basic Training

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Many years ago, there were quite a few problems with the Icelandic Horses being sold to the American market. The customers assumed that the horses would have a certain level of foundation or basic training, but these expectations were not being met, being easier and less financial investment to stick with the icelandic- style *training*, thereby leading to unsatisfied customers, loss of money on the part of the buyer, and negative breed reputation, as well as trainer / seller reputations.

At the time, probably around 1997 / 98, the following list was compiled with suggestions by Icelandic Horse owners:

The following are minimum requirements, in North America, for a horse to be considered "trained". The horse should accept willingly and quietly, rather than just tolerate, the following:

  • Be catchable
  • Accept halter
  • Lead
  • Tie
  • Load
  • Allow all parts of body to be touched
  • Stand for sheath cleaning
  • Stand for farrier
  • Stand for saddling
  • Stand for mounting
  • Stand until asked to move
  • Dog walk
  • Back up on the ground and under saddle with light request
  • Give to the bit
  • Disengage the hindquarters
  • Rate Speed
  • Turn on the fore
  • Turn on the hind
  • Safe in traffic
  • Stop under saddle at a light request.
  • Be able to negotiate different terrain.
  • Give proper responses to all rider requests 99% of the time.
A horse that does not meet the above requirements, should only be considered green-broke and the price should reflect same.

A youngster that is socialized and gets used to human contact at an early age tends to be easier to work with.


Since that time, in general, things have improved, particularly by the sellers who are progressive and into natural horsemanship and meeting the expectations of the American market. There are still breeders, importers, and sellers who remain with the old ways of icelandic-style training.

I would probably say that the expectations now are even higher than ten years ago.


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