I am currently travelling in Iceland and one of the things I wanted to see here was Icelandic horses. These adorable shaggy little horses have quite the lineage with a direct link to the Vikings and beyond!
They are said to have come from Norway and other Scandinavian settlements with the Vikings who settled Iceland between 874 AD and 935 AD. These horses though are actually descendants of the Mongolian horse!
There is only one species of horse in Iceland and none have been cross-bred so the stock that you see all over the country are pure bloods and a direct link to the past. Since 1882 no horse can be imported to Iceland, even those from the country cannot return if taken overseas for competitions or the like. This is to avoid the threat of disease being imported into Iceland.
Icelandic horses are stocky, strong, sure-footed and hardy creatures. Their thick shaggy coat keeps them comfortable in cold temperatures and unlike other Icelandic stock such as cattle and sheep, they can remain outdoors all year round (they seem to like it too).
Back to these adorable horses I saw. They were well and truly up for pats and some attention but the intent of one was obvious as he started to nuzzle around in my coat pocket for some food! If you travel to Iceland make sure you encounter some Icelandic horses (in my case they were just on a side road near a fence but you can also take horse riding tours and the like).