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Icelandic Horse Connection

Corrections to Text About Icelandic Horses

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This page will help to correct some of the misrepresentations and incorrect text about Icelandic Horses.

Here is article number one, with corrections and considerations in red:

Iceland "...a country where there is one Icelandic pony for every five Icelanders. The figures are about 50,000 ponies to 250,000 humans. Why?

Because without the Icelandic ponies, there would probably be no Icelanders. Iceland is the sort of place which takes no prisoners. Its cold, harsh, and barren interior is largely composed of lava fields which support no vegetation. That which does not support vegetation does not support the cattle which graze on vegetation. So the meat in the Icelanders' diets-what there is of it- comes from sheep and Icelandic ponies.

That may seem cruel, but we're not talking about healthy unwanted horses being shipped to Canadaian slaughterhouses, now that the U.S. slaughterhouses have been shut down. The Icelandic ponies are not killed to satisfy the palates of Europeans who could just as easily eat beef, or pork, or chicken, or seafood. Icelandic ponies are an essential food source for Icelanders.

But because they are also an essential work and riding horse, only the ponies which are unable to work are used for food.

And work they do. Icelandic ponies are highly intelligent equines which have adapted to survive in a place where winter comes when the grass they forage on is still green. They have evolved to take very shallow breaths, so that their lungs are not damaged from the cold.

They are stout ponies with plenty of bone and the shaggy coat necessary for their surroundings. They can go two or three days between meals and are as surefooted as goats, thanks to having learned to navigate those volcanoes and lava fields.

They do not sound like they would have a way of going similar to that of the Peruvian Paso. But they do. Like all equines, each Icelandic pony comes equipped with a walk, trot, and canter. Most of them, oddly, will also pace when they are trying to recuperate from a long gallop. But then there's the "tolt."

The tolt is the same four-beat gait that is known as the "Paso LLano" seen so far to the south in the Peruvian Paso. It's a left rear, left fore, right rear, right fore pattern in which the pony always has one foot on the ground so that the bounciness of the trot is eliminated. And the Icelandic ponies can do it double-time.

Icelandic ponies, unlike other breeds, take between seven and eight years to reach their full growth, and are not ready to be ridden until they are at least four. But they more than make up for their long childhood at the other end of their life spans. One Icelandic pony is said to have worked until the age of fifty, and was still going strong eight years later when its owner died!"

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