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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Vikings: big boys, small horses

I was originally going to cover the various northern breeds separately but I just couldn’t quite bring myself to do it that way. My Mother’s favorite breed is the Icelandic Horse. And in the middle of getting a degree in Agriculture I took a class in Nordic Saga and Myth so I could go on about this topic for a long long time.
The Northern War Horses I would say are the Icelandic Horse, the Nordlandshest, Fjord horse, Shetland, Exmoor pony, Konik, Highland Pony, Connemara, Yakut, the Coldblood Trotter and Faroe Horse.

Yeah, you saw the word pony there quite a bit. The smallest of these breeds is 11 hands the largest about 15 hands (44 - 60 inches). Yeah, the Vikings went all over the world on war horses that were smaller than some dogs. I am exaggerating, but not by a whole lot. I’ve seen Icelandic horses fall and the riders just put their feet down on the ground until the horse gets up below him.

I will come back to the Konik and Yakut when I talk about the Eastern horses and Shetland, Exmoor, Highland and Connemara when I talk about the British Native ponies.

The Icelandic, Nordlandshest, Coldblood Trotter and Faroe Horses are all extremely strong and hardy. The Nordlandshest, Faroe and Coldblood Trotter are all totally diffenrt but that is mostly becasue the people breeding them have focused on a different thing. The Nordlandshest is a small draft horse as is the Faroe. The Coldblood Trotter is a racing horse.

The Icelandic comes in three distinct types; a small draft animal, a riding and showing horse that is naturally gated and an animal raised for food. The Icelandic horses are the other three breeds wrapped into one.

The importance of the horse in Viking society can not be overstated. The God Odin had a horse. A mare was mentioned by name in the Book of Settlements (her name was Skalm) in the 12th century. People conquered on these horses (leaving remnant herds in various places)and they fit into boats. And yeah, they eat horse.

I know that sounds weird to people in the US but people do eat these animals.

The Icelandic horses also tölt (a single footed gate) and race at a pace.

When it comes to war horses, bigger isn’t always better.

 I picked this video because I sold a bit to the chestnut horse in it. 

 The Coldblood Trotter I love this because you can hear him talking to his horse.

Fjord horse pulling farm equipment Fjord Horse

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