build a competition track, riding arena or clubhouse. Riding paths are numerous all over the country, often made by these communities. Those who live on farms have stables at home, though in general Icelandic horses live outside. “The herds of broodmares, foals, youngsters and horses that are not in training are kept in herds outdoors, where they survive easily the hard winter storms and blizzards,” says Arnthrudur ‘Lukka’ Heimisdottir, a horse breeder in the northern province of Skagafjordur. “The farmers do choose the winter areas for the herds so they have the shelter of hills, barn walls or manmade shelter, but they are not kept in barns. Even with drifting snow and howling wind coming straight off the Northern Atlantic ocean, horses usually choose to stay outdoors rather than in shelters.” Lukka and her husband Thorlakur Sigurbjornsson own Langhus Farm, a dairy, and horse stud. The pair has been breeding and training Icelandic horses for 15 years, along with sheep, dairy cattle, and sheepdogs. “Actually there is just one breed of sheep, horse, and dairy cow in Iceland,” Lukka says. “Importing other breeds is forbidden, for disease control. “Langhus horses are bred for show and work, as horses are often used for mustering, trekking, and competition in Iceland. The horses roam in big herds in huge highland areas or huge homeland areas, for a big part of the year. They learn herd dynamics, are free to talk ‘horse language’, and encounter all sorts of landscape, so they learn to be sure-footed and bold. In the wintertime they are usually in smaller areas, where it’s easier to bring hay to the herd.” With an abundance of pasture all year round, horses receive little or no supplementary apart from hay in the winter. Left to physically mature before being accustomed to saddle and rider at around four years of age, they are free moving, spirited and robust. Though small – generally ranging from around 13.1 - 14.1 hands - referring to Icelandic horses as ponies is regarded as insult; these sturdy animals are considered horses in terms of power, strength, character, and demeanor. Icelandic horses are growing in popularity for their useful size, hardiness and amenability, and are used for all horse-related activities in other countries. In Iceland, jumping and carriage driving are rare; competition often involves speed and agility, and gait competitions are also very popular - Icelandic horses have up to five gaits: walk, trot, canter, flying pace, and tolt. But the favoured pastime is trekking on horseback through the country’s vast wilderness. Icelanders love to explore pristine nature while soaking up the sunshine of 24-hour-long summer days, and horse trekking is the perfect way to do it. On a recent trek, Lukka and her son Heimir, 12, travelled 120 kilometres over 3 days, with around 30 other riders ranging in age from 12 to 75. “A group of people who decide to go horse trekking usually bring 3-5 horses each,” Lukka says. “One is ridden Continued