In mid September I had the pleasure of visiting Oakfield Farm in Dorset, England, to give a clicker training workshop. Nick Foot has been producing Icelandic horses here for a number of years and they are truly a wonderful breed.
For those of you who are not familiar with “Iceys” they are really pony sized, being anywhere from 12 to over 14 hands high (122-148cm) and originate in Iceland (as the name suggests!) Their size belies their strength! They come in an array of colours. Icelandics are the only horse found in Iceland which allows no importation of horses, and if they leave the country (even for competition), they are not permitted to return.
As well as the usual three gaits that ‘normal’ horses have i.e.,walk, trot and canter/gallop, they have two additional gaits. The ‘tolt’ is a fast, ground-covering four beat gait and the ‘pace’ is a very rapid smooth gait.
When I saw Brynja, who was a sturdy little mare but only something over 13 hands…I did ask…Are you sure?. My own thoroughbred is 16.2hh approx and I looked at this little creature with a degree of wariness. I need not have worried!!!!
Riding an Icey in tolt was described to me as being akin to a fast spin in a small sports-car and how true that is. Its a wonderful sensation, fast, smooth and low to the ground. We had a lovely ride from the farm through lanes and tracks over the gorgeous Dorset countryside and I came back with a grin from ear to ear!!