Questions to Ask When Considering Buying an Icelandic Horse
Here's the scenario: There's an Icelandic Horse for sale, in California, at an Icelandic Horse breeder's farm.
You've read books on Icelandic Horses, looked at many Icelandic Horse pictures;
gone on a tour of a few local ranches, and learned about clicker training an Icelandic Horse.
Is this the horse for you? You've decided you want to trail ride (trek) with your pony.
Our members and readers have put together a list of questions:
Questions to ask of sellers when considering buying an Icelandic Horse:
How tall? Has horse been measured with a stick?
Shod or barefoot? What kind of shoes? How often is horse
trimmed? Any thrush? Any hoof injuries?
What does horse spook at? Any bombproof courses? Exposed to
What is horse's worst habit?
What trailering problems does horse have? Does he walk right in?
Once loaded, does he stand still, no jumping/dancing around?
How long have you owned the horse? Do you have any background info
on him? Who owned the horse before? Any records that passed along from
owner to owner?
If registered, do you have papers?
VERY IMPORTANT WITH THE ICELANDIC BREED! Follow up on this one.
Remember, papers in hand. Ask for a copy sent to you so you can see
the papers before passing money over. It can be a nightmare otherwise.
How much arena riding has he had? What kind? What kind of shows?
Has he ever been sick? With what? If colic, what kind? Swallow a
rock, moldy hay, too much grain? Any eye injuries? Any allergies? Any
stitches required? If so, for what reason? Stifle ever stuck?
Does he know his leads? Can he do flying lead changes?
This is often something owners don't care about but it may be hard for
gaited horses to do flying lead changes.
Could my 3 yr old ride this horse?
Has he ever been lame? Describe the lameness. Was the vet
consulted? If injury, what course of treatment was followed?
If a mare, has she had babies? How many? If known, was she a
Does he get along with other horses? Lay its ears back? Kick or
bite? If placed in a herd, how high up would he/she be?
What is his energy level? (1 = lowest, 10 = highest)
Good with a farrier?
How is his gait? Short and rough or long and smooth? Does he
tolt? In pasture, does he tolt naturally? Is he 3, 4 or 5-gaited? Is
tolt smooth or pacey? Does he have trot and canter?
What do you do to get horse to tolt?
Any blemishes? Scars, splints, old injuries?
What kind of bit is used? If hackamore, what kind (chain under
chin, noseband)? Could you ride this horse in just a halter on trail,
in a parade?
Is there an arena and/or trails available to try horse on?
At what level does horse carry his/her head? Get a video if
Has he had professional training? If so, with whom and for how long?
There should be no harsh bits, spurs, stud chains, etc.
Has the horse been roped on? Out of a box? Does the horse mind
if a rope is swinging off their side?
Stocky or petite? Measurement of cannon circumference.
Naturally calm, or sensitive / nervous?
Import or domestic?
X-rays for spavin?
SE (summer eczema, sweet itch)?
Conformation pictures, taken square from the side, from the front, and the
Find out about the horse's back. Short or long? The shape of the barrel
(round or A-framed) (this information will be helpful in saddle fit and
determining weight-carrying ability).
Blood lines? (naturally gaited? calm or nervous temperament?)
Gait distribution (naturally gaited, showing gait at liberty, pacey,
four-gaited shown at liberty, five-gaited shown at liberty, three-gaited,
fox trotter, etc.). Don't depend on the breeder to know the gaits (he should, but many
Icelandic Horse breeders do not know gaits, anything the horse may do may be called a "tolt"), get it
in pictures or video.
How easily does his gait appear when asked for softly (light cue) under
Do you need an icelandic saddle, boots, shoes, noseband, icelandic bit to
get gait and / or control the horse?