What was the first horse breed?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Well, let me just start off by saying that the question of the first horse breed is a bit of a tricky one. There is no definitive answer, as the domestication of horses is believed to have occurred thousands of years ago, and the exact origins of specific horse breeds are often shrouded in mystery. However, one breed that is widely considered to be one of the oldest is the Icelandic horse.

Icelandic horses have a long and storied history, with their lineage dating back at least 10,000 years. These horses are believed to have descended from the horses brought to Iceland by the Vikings in the 9th and 10th centuries. These Viking horses, as they are sometimes called, were prized for their strength, resilience, and versatility.

One of the remarkable things about Icelandic horses is their small stature. They are often referred to as “ponies” due to their size, but they are actually classified as horses. Despite their small stature, however, Icelandic horses are known for their incredible strength and endurance. In fact, they were traditionally used for a variety of heavy-duty tasks, such as working in the fields and pulling heavy loads.

One of the most unique features of Icelandic horses is their characteristic gait called the “tölt.” The tölt is a smooth, four-beat gait that is incredibly comfortable for the rider. It allows the horse to cover long distances at a fast pace while maintaining a steady and smooth rhythm. This gait is one of the reasons why Icelandic horses have become so popular for riding and endurance competitions.

I had the opportunity to ride an Icelandic horse during a trip to Iceland, and I must say, it was an incredible experience. The horse’s surefootedness and willingness to please made for a truly enjoyable ride. I was amazed at how effortlessly the horse moved, and the tölt was indeed incredibly smooth and comfortable.

Apart from their physical attributes, Icelandic horses also have a unique and strong bond with their human counterparts. Due to the isolation of Iceland and strict import/export regulations, the Icelandic horse breed has remained pure for centuries. As a result, these horses have developed a remarkable ability to form deep connections with their riders and handlers. They are known for their intelligence, gentle temperament, and willingness to work.

While it is difficult to definitively determine the first horse breed, the Icelandic horse is widely believed to be one of the oldest. With a lineage dating back thousands of years, these horses have proven their worth in a variety of tasks and have developed unique characteristics that set them apart from other breeds. Whether it’s their small stature, incredible strength, smooth gait, or strong bond with humans, Icelandic horses continue to captivate and amaze horse enthusiasts around the world.