History - Horse of the vikings
Horses were first brought to Iceland by the Vikings who settled the country in the years 874~930.
Crossing the Atlantic in their small open boats was an adventure, even without having to bring livestock, so people stopped bringing horses to Iceland when a sufficient number had been imported.
For 9 centuries, no other horses have been brought to Iceland, and now there is only one breed of horse in Iceland: the Icelandic horse, one of the purest in the world. Many diseases, from which horses on the European continent or in the United States suffer, are unknown in Iceland.
During the centuries, the Icelandic horse was the only means of transport in Iceland. It carried people, building materials, goods and mail over mountains, through powerful rivers, over rugged lava fields and even over glaciers.
In the 20th century, cars, buses and airplanes took over, while horseback riding became a popular sport and hobby. People used to keep their horses outside, and only started to stable them in the 20th century. Thus, the horses were toughened by harsh weather conditions, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. The principle of "Survival of the fittest" made the Icelandic horses very fit indeed: they are famous for their amazing strength, sure-footedness, stamina and endurance.