In more recent years, changes in the Icelandic Horse are being shaped by the show world. They are wanting more refinement, higher lift, higher set necks, more speed (the "tolt" is actually morphing into a 4-beat pace which means the horse is being pushed beyond his capacity for a true tolt), etc.
At one time, there was supposedly no distinction between show horses and pleasure horses within the Icelandic Horse breed. That can no longer be considered true. The fact that the successful show horses get taken out for pleasure rides is not the same as the horse bred to gait naturally, hold up on that trail in soundness for 25 miles, while offering good gait freely.
The Icelandic Horses that
do well in the show ring appear to be moving further and further away from what one would desire in a good trail horse. Too much emphasis is
being placed on extremes (leg lift, reach, speed) with other more practical
aspects of a good "usin" horse valued far less.
This is not much different than what is happening in other breeds between show and pleasure horses.
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