Iceland: The Horse

One of the most iconic images of all-things-Icelandic has got to be the Icelandic horse.

From the United States Icelandic Horse Congress website:

The Icelandic Horse has a thousand year history. Purebred since the 10th century, the Icelandic Horse is renowned for being hardy, athletic, independent, spirited, friendly, adaptable, and sure-footed, with five natural gaits. These are the Walk, Trot, Canter, Tölt, and Pace. Averaging 13 to 14 hands tall, the Icelandic Horse is a versatile family riding horse, bred to carry adults at a fast pleasing gait over long distances. It is distinctive for its thick and often double-sided mane and long tail, and remarkable for its wide range of colors. In addition to formal horse shows and competitions, Icelandic Horses are widely used for cross-country rides and long-distance trekking. They have also competed in dressage, jumping, and endurance races.”

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These extraordinarily beautiful animals were almost everywhere we went on our journey through the south of the country.

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It is illegal in Iceland to import horses, so this breed is kept very pure and truly unique.  We were about to find out just how unique…

The morning of our departure, our kind hosts offered to show us a few special things.  The first of those special things was a horse.

Hrefna is an animal lover (see photos of her beloved boxers in the back of the car below).  One of her animals is an absolutely stunning white horse called Marzipan Óli.  We were lucky enough to meet this exceptional creature.

First, we greeted the dogs.  Fabulous dogs!

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Then we drove outside of town, to the farm where Marzipan lives.

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It was wonderful walking through the horse barn.  So many absolutely beautiful animals there, all seemingly curious and friendly.

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But we were here to meet Marzipan Óli.  Isn’t he lovely?!

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Hrefna insisted that the children have a chance to ride him before we left.    So we found helmets for the kids and headed outside…

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Such excitement ensued!

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Charlie was ALL smiles!


He felt so important, getting to hold Marzipan’s lead as we walked him outside.

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This horse was so gentle, so knowing, and so wonderful. Hrefna told us that he has a special way with children.  She is right.  A special animal, indeed.


Who’s going to ride first?

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Charlie expressed great fear when we first told him he could ride a horse before we left Iceland, but when he met Marzipan, he was just filled with glee.  He enjoyed every single second in the company of this horse!

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Next up:  Flora!

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Too good to pass up:  a photo-op with both children on the horse at once!  Marzipan was completely unfazed.


Those are genuine smiles!

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Flora had had her share, but Charlie wanted to ride him back to the barn.

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Marzipan likes to say “hello” (with is foot).



He deserves a good pat to say “thank you”.  Charlie was so enchanted by this horse.

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What a wonderful and special opportunity!  We are so grateful to Marzipan and Hrefna.

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Goodbye!  Thank you!


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2 Responses to Iceland: The Horse

  1. Kit says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I assume you’re back in the US and ensconced in your old lives.I hope everything was as it should have been when you got back. Any chance you’ll be in Michigan anytime soon?

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