Jenny Pearce

The essence of Icelandic horses

Noora with one of the Haldane Icelandic horses here in Australia

I had a question sent in to me for my live seminar recently “Is there anything of special importance to know about Icelandic horses when establishing communication and understanding?  Is there anything different about other breeds?”

The answer is yes, there is a difference in the breeds of horses in the way they react and respond to us.

I wrote an article about Morgans a while back for example.  I also wrote an article about Caretaker horses, who are often the most misunderstood horses on the planet and very dear to my heart – my horse Bobby <3  is one of the Caretaker horses.

I have never met an Icelandic horse, so I didn’t know anything about them and referred the question to Noora Ehnqvist, my Finnish friend.

Here is Noora’s answer to the question.

All horses are of course individuals and all breeds can have all characters but yes, I think most breeds have specifics that need to be taken into consideration about their nature, body and/or way to react.

With icelandic horses their biggest ‘problem’ is that their way or ‘talking’ with their signals is very subtle. Many of them don’t want to make a big number out of them, yet they want to express themselves. They get very easily too ‘quiet’ when worried, overpowered, feeling helpless etc. They truly need people to step into the timelessness and subtle sensitivity of nature, to leave ego somewhere far away from them and find a very heart-felt connection. They need to be encouraged to express themselves while still offering them gentle guidance.
(Some horses run nervously all the time but even they are too quiet inside.)

But for sure I’ve also seen icelandic horses of all kind, they are beautiful souls that are easily misunderstood but luckily also very loved. Their physical balance is often seen as just ready by nature but it’s not the case and I see lots and lots of icelandic horses in pain. They need gymnastics, suppleness and a right size rider just as other horses. Icelandic horses’ joints are also over mobile so they need help in finding a strong balance when having extra weight on them (=rider).

Thanks Noora!



  1. Bev Bell 05/14/2014, 8:49 am Reply

    I have an Icelandic horse that spent his first 10 years in Iceland. He is now 22 years of age and I have owned him for 3 years. These horses are very smart and sensitive. I am still learning how to be gentler with every cue. And yes, they can get worried and will be very quiet and sometimes uncooperative because of their nervousness. They are great horses. I love to keep learning and we have a very strong bond.

    • jennya 05/14/2014, 9:20 am Reply

      Gosh, how did he go in the Australian heat??? I have heard some very lovely things about Icelandics.

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