In July of 2014, I had a guest on one of my camping trips that was from Iceland. One of the reasons she wanted to visit the Pryors was because they reminder her of the Icelandic Horses. So when we had the opportunity to go to Iceland in November of this year, I contacted Thora and asked if she would be willing to take us out to see her horses. We spent a very cold and windy day with her, visiting not only her horses, but also her Uncle Anton’s horses as well. It was definitely the highlight of our trip for me. The backdrop of the country and the horses was just magical, and I look forward to going back when the weather is warmer!
Thora first took us to see her horses. The snow was blowing sideways, and the horses were covered in thick snow. Just like the Pryor Horses, these horses are very adapted to their land and know how to survive the harsh winter. In the below photos, you can easily spot which horses are Thora’s, as they are covered in snow. Just a short 20 minute drive, and we were in a different weather system, still cold, but the horses were not covered in the snow.
The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in Iceland. Although the horses are small, at times pony-sized, most registries for the Icelandic refer to it as a horse. Icelandic horses are long-lived and hardy. In their native country they have few diseases; Icelandic law prevents horses from being imported into the country and exported animals are not allowed to return. The Icelandic displays two gaits in addition to the typical walk, trot, and canter/gallop commonly displayed by other breeds. The only breed of horse in Iceland, they are also popular internationally, and sizable populations exist in Europe and North America. The breed is still used for traditional sheepherding work in its native country, as well as for leisure, showing, and racing.*
The ancestors of the Icelandic horse were probably taken to Iceland by Viking Age Scandinavians between 860 and 935 AD. The Norse settlers were followed by immigrants from Norse colonies in Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Western Isles of Scotland. These later settlers arrived with the ancestors of what would elsewhere become Shetland, Highland, and Connemara ponies, which were crossed with the previously imported animals. There may also have been a connection with the Yakut pony, and the breed has physical similarities to the Nordlandshest of Norway. Other breeds with similar characteristics include the Faroe pony of the Faeroe Islands and the Norwegian Fjord horse. Genetic analyses have revealed links between the Mongolian horse and the Icelandic horse. Mongolian horses are believed to have been originally imported from Russia by Swedish traders; this imported Mongol stock subsequently contributed to the Fjord, Exmoor, Scottish Highland, Shetland and Connemara breeds, all of which have been found to be genetically linked to the Icelandic horse. *
* Used from Wikepedia on the internet.
Unlike the Pryor Horses, the Icelandic Horses come in an array of colors and patterns. They are a friendly and curious horse, and we could easily walk amongst them comfortably. The biggest problem I had, was that they chose to come a bit to close to me with my large 100-400 lens. It was a challenge to get good photos, but with John using a wide-angle lens, we were able to capture some great memories together.
John and I were able to see the Northern Lights one night, another thing that Iceland is famous for. Iceland is a beautiful country. Clean pure air and water, friendly people, good food and amazing horses. I look forward to spending more time there, soon.
PS: I only have 3 more spots available for camping next summer. Text me if you are interested in joining me on the mountain. (406-360-8959) https://wildinthepryors.com/2016/08/23/2017-wild-in-the-pryors-camping/