Iceland the Horse Nation

In an article in Horsetalk assistant professor Ingibjörg Sigurðardóttir at Hólar University asks whether Iceland is the world’s greatest horse owning nation.

Iceland has 240 horses per 1,000 inhabitants, compared to 13 per 1,000 in Europe.

“Business activities like breeding, training, selling of horses and horse-based tourism appear to be considerable in Iceland,” Ingibjörg said, noting that 16 per cent of overseas visitors to Iceland in 2009 went horse-riding, 79,000 in total.

Horse-related sports in the country are popular. In terms of participation, horse sports rank third after football and golf.

The Icelandic horse was the only horse breed in the island nation and was brought here by permanent settlers between 860 and 935. There has been no outcrossing to other breeds for about 1,000 years. And today the Icelandic horse is a big part of the country’s image as a nature-based tourist destination.

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