I very much have appreciated Ragnar Eriksson's writings about the versatility of Icelandic horses from his remembrances of growing up on his father's farm in Iceland during the 1950's and farming with these horses and also that in Ragnar's sense that versatility is still very much in the breeding.
One of the things that attracts me to this breed is that
culturally the breeding is so related to how the horses work. The breed is so much about how the horses go as
riding animals. That the breeding of
these horses and the essential esteem for these horses is still so related to horsemanship
and riding utility. In
Always, when in the company of Icelandic horsemen, as someone naively gushes on about how pretty a horse may be or gushes on about one color over another color, the Icelandic remonstrance is quickly there, "you don't ride the color".
This Icelandic kind of cultural sensibility about horses
contrasts with so much of horsemanship and horse breeding here in
Methodical breeding beyond that time has mostly been in the hands of our show breeders whose primary concern lays so much with the moment in the show ring; and, too often with the horse being only valued at the end of a lead line!
I am always amused by the breed fairs which are held
By contrast, Baldvin Ari, Baddi shipped us a stallion,
Sorli fra Bulandi from
We use him as a riding horse and we find him to be a fine prince of a character, unflappable, straightforward, easy, dignified, noble, willing and ultimately sensible in nature. As a breeding animal, I find this quite engaging as the contrast that it reveals about the Icelandic horse. This is also the culture of horsemanship that the Icelandic horse comes from.
Simply on practical terms, I must say that I look forward to boiling up the highway going to town on this black breeding stallion, just to go in for coffee and do my errands! We're known around town like at the drive-up bank windows, the malls and the square. This Sorli is a regular out on the town.
So, yes, to the question. Yes they can be an all-around horse. Yes also, there is a range of talent and character, but all-around horse is a core in the nature of their breeding to date. Absolutely. However, I would also be the first to temper my saying this to naive people new to horses or to people just new to the breed.
A horse for all people and persons? Not really. Horsemanship resides in the rider so please, "buyer beware" as you go about finding any horse for yourself. Look around, talk around, learn about the breed, work first at establishing your own horsemanship and then the good horse will find you. But please do not buy the first horse you see or necessarily from the first person you talk to! In process, you will come to learn what versatility is and find it here in this breed where it is preserved.
Best Regards! Doug Hamilton