The Icelandic horses were brought to Iceland by the first Viking settlers during the years 874 – 930. Their boats were small, and only a few horses, the very best, were brought along. At an early stage, import of farm animals was forbidden in the country.
Because of this, no other horses have been brought to Iceland for 9 centuries, and now there is only one breed of horse in Iceland: the Icelandic horse, one of the purest in the world. There have been no infusions of outside blood for over 800 years and if a horse is exported from Iceland it can never come back to the country!
People used to keep their horses outside, and only started to stable them in the 20th century. Thus, the horses were toughened by harsh weather conditions, volcanic eruptions and other natural disasters. The principle of “Survival of the fittest” made the Icelandic horses very fit indeed: they are famous for their amazing strength, sure-footedness, stamina and endurance. They also have a highly developed large intestine that enables them to survive on very little food.