Below are a few articles that address some concerns about buying Icelandic Horses.
.... a few words of advice
by Renee Martin
So, you've decided: This IS the breed for you. Great! But, before you take
the momentous plunge into Icelandic Horse ownership, there are a few things you
should do. First of all, prior to considering purchasing any Icelandic, you
should become an INFORMED BUYER. Informed buyers know what it is they are
looking at, the fairmarket value of what they are considering purchasing, and
what it is they want. How do you become an informed buyer of Icelandics when
the Icelandic is somewhat of a rare breed here in North America and information
is scarce, you ask? Well, hopefully, this little discourse will help:
Step #1. EDUCATE YOURSELF:
When traveling in a foreign country, it helps to
know the language, making the trip less confusing and fustrating. So it is when
shopping for an Icelandic. Learn not only what the toll and flying pace are,
but also be able to recognize and differentiate these gaits when you see them
performed. Know what it means when a horse is a "natural tolter", and so on.
Familiarize yourself with common Icelandic Horse training and handling
practices. Conversations with breeders and/or those selling horses will be much
easier on both of you if you know a little bit about the breed in general. For
example: Unlike "big" horse breeds, Icelandics are not bred nor trained under
saddle until 4 or 5 years of age due to their slow maturing. Knowing this, if
you were to inquire about a 5-yr-old gelding, you would already realize this
horse would be un-trained, or at best, greenbroke. A little, basic background
information on the breed will also make it easier for you to convey to breeders
and sellers specifically what kind of horse you are looking for.
Where to find all this information? German-born, Canadian trainer,
Christine Schwartz, has written several excellent reference guides on the
subject of Icelandics Horses. See her website: http://www.angelfire.com/bc/valur. There are
also quite a few internet sites now which can provide additional information
Step #2. INQUIRE:
Talk to as many Icelandic owners as you can, -- including, if
possible, those folks not involved with breeding or selling horses. Talking to
people who ride and use their Icelandics the same way you would use them can be
very enlightening and helpful. Icelandic owners like nothing better than to
talk about their horses, experiences, and what they've learned along the way.
You can pick up a lot of useful information just by picking up the phone, or
switching on the computer and E-mailing folks. When you contact breeders/importers,
ask if they have sold any horses near you. Ask on our national email list: IceHorses Email List. This is also an excellent way to see
how satisfied customers are with a particular farm's horses and service.
Request sales videos from those farms selling horses. This not only provides
you with a means of viewing horses without travel, but it will help you
familiarize yourself with individual farms in terms of the stock they raise,
train, import, and/or sell as well. However, it is not advisable to purchase
a horse off of a sales video alone. You really need to visit the horse in
person and see if you "click". Icelandics really look to having a "person" of
their own, and the importance of this bond cannot be over-stated. Meet the
horse you are considering. It will be well worth it! Which brings me to
Step #3. GET "UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL":
Visit as many horses as possible to give
yourself a feel for the breed. You will be amazed at how unique each individual
within this breed is. Icelandics can differ greatly in appearence, type, and
conformation from one another! Better yet, RIDE as many horses as you can
before purchasing. Like everything else, the tolt and temperament varies from
horse to horse. Perhaps you might want to combine your Icelandic horse research
with your next vacation by travelling to the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm in
Waitsfield. This stable, located in the unbelievably picturesque Green
Mountains, offers Inn-to-Inn trekking on Icelandics, as well as daily rides by
You can keep abreast of up-coming events featuring, or including
Icelandics that may be close enough for you to travel to by joining the USIHC
and the Canadian Icelandic Horse Federation (CIHF). Each of these two organizations publish a quarterly newsletter
which includes up-coming events where Icelandics will be promoted, as well as
advertisements of horses for sale and breeding farms.
Toronto's Winter Fair in January, Columbus Ohio's Equine Affaire in
April, and Louisville Kentucky's Equitana in June, are just a few of the
events which offer Midwest spectators a chance to see the Icelandics live and
Okay, let's assume you have accomplished the above three steps. Now, you:
1) have seen, either in person or on video, a variety of horses,
2) have an idea of what the breed is all about, both in appearance and
3) have, a feel for current market prices,
4) can 'visualize what kind of Icelandic you want.
It's still not time to get the checkbook out! Instead, ask yourserf
some questions: What are my primary ambitions with the horse -- pleasure
riding, competiton, endurance, jumping, driving? What is my budget? Am I
willing to buy young stock and wait for them to grow up? Can I train the horse
myself? How important are things like size, color, age, and gender to me? Do I
want a 4 or 5-gaited horse? Will other members of my family be riding the
horse, such as children or grandchildren? What is my skill level when it comes
to riding? (Keep in mind that "invisible velcro" that kept you effortlessly on
a horse as a child might not be as reliable as it once was!) Will I be riding
by myself most of the time or in a group? What kinds of things will the horse
be routinely exposed to at our farm -- wildlife, livestock, traffic, dogs,
water crossings, etc. etc. The answers to these questions will help you
describe to sellers what kind of horse you are looking for, and what will be
expected of the horse.
Next, sit down and write a list of the 5 most important attributes or
characteristics the horse must have for you to purchase it. Your list will
probably begin with "good temperament", followed by "smooth, clear, easy-to-get
tolt." Maybe price will be ahead of those two. Maybe it's important to you that
the horse be thoroughly trained, schooled in dressage, or stand absolutely
still when you get on and off due to a physical limitation you have. Perhaps
you have to ride alone most of the time and need a bold horse that will go
willingly out on his/her own without being herd or barn-sour. Maybe you've
always dreamed of having a chestnut with flaxen mane and tail and have vowed
this will be the color of your next horse .... Whatever matters most to you.
However, if you find the gaiting aspect of the Icelandic "package" to be number
#4 or #5, or even not on your list at all, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate
your reasons for wanting an Icelandic. After all, there are a good number of
nice, sweet, small, un-gaited horses out there for a lot less than what you'll
pay for an Icelandic. Likewise, if temperament is low on your list, it's wise
to remember that one has to live with a horse first, and ride him second!
will be the basis of your search for that "perfect", first Icelandic. When you
find a promising horse, refer back to it and see how he/she measures up.
Hopefully, doing so will prevent you from being tempted to buy a horse simply
because it is close by, or a "bargain", when in reality, it isn't what you
really want, or isn't suitable for your purpose(s) and/or skill level.
Finally, perhaps the best advice when shopping for an Icelandic is to take
your time, look, look, look and learn, learn, learn! If you do your homework
and know what it is you want before you go searching, you will stand a much
better chance of finding that ideal Icelandic for you ...
by Nicole Rosa
The Icelandic Horse is becoming more and more popular in North America. Twenty years ago, if you wanted an Icelandic, you pretty much had to fly to Reykjavik and pick one out. Not so now! There are many Icelandic breeding farms in North America today. In Iceland, the horses run free in large herds, and have very little human contact until they're ready to be ridden, at around age 5.
Many North American farms have chosen this method for raising their Icelandics as well. Lately, some people have been wondering if this is such a good idea. In Iceland, when a horse is ready to be started, the trainer brings him in and gets to work. The first contact with a human being is usually an unsettling experience for a young horse!
Now let's compare that with a North American Icelandic. Not only does the trainer bring him in and get to work, but shortly thereafter he may be loaded into a trailer, taken hundreds of miles away from all of his familiar surroundings, driven on a long road trip in an unfamiliar "cage", and unloaded at an unknown destination. Here a complete stranger continues with the horse's training. I can imagine that this sort of treatment is quite disturbing for even the most laid back & calm horse. An extremely sensitive horse might never be the same again!
Let's face it, North Americans and Icelanders are different. The horses being bred here in North America could quite likely go to a new owner that's not very experienced with horses, especially the Icelandic Horse. I believe that if a farm breeds horses to be sold to the general public, they should do extensive groundwork with that horse, not just pull him in out of the field and stuff him into a trailer.
A horse's personality will become readily apparent during the groundwork, and then recommended to a new owner with the appropriate level of experience. The horse should be taught to pick up his feet, receive shots & paste wormer, stand still for grooming, lead well, lunge, ground drive, load and ride in a trailer. If he's old enough, he should be started under saddle. He should be exposed to a wide variety of experiences to determine his personality.
Selling an unknown horse to an unknown client is asking for trouble. Waiting until a horse is 5 years old before doing much with him is also asking for trouble. By that time, he could have 5 full siblings, so is this really the best time to realize: "Uh oh, maybe this wasn't the best stallion/mare match."?? We need to be a bit more careful with the horses we are breeding, and how we are turning them over to the general public. Carelessness opens the door to unsatisfied or injured customers, not to mention unhappy, misunderstood horses.
Icelandic Horses Take a While to Settle In
Also, Need More Foundation and Basic Training
So sorry to hear about your falls off the horse.
This should be a wake-up call for those interested in Icelandic Horses both
on the buying end and the selling end.
Breeders and trainers need to put better and more training on their horses
which includes foundation/basic training and groundwork.
Buyers should take care to find out what types of training a horse has and
what it includes.
That's a lotta money in horse to fall off of!
Maybe re-starting your horse from the ground up would be good for you to do. It
goes along way in helping the relationship. You'll find some good
information here: Training Section. Use some Parelli, Lyons,
TTEAM, CT, etc.
Also, it seems that it takes a while for these horses to settle in to their
new circumstances; sometimes up to a year for some.