Icelandic Ponies

Ponies are a very special feature of the Icelandic landscape that you’ll see everywhere you go if you visit Iceland.  These very placid friendly little guys stay out in all weathers, experiencing the most extreme conditions Iceland can throw at them.  I’ve seen them huddled in blizzards with winds so strong it’s been impossible to open the car doors or stand up if one manages to leave the car for a quick photograph, such is the way of photographers – quite mad really.  Who else would try to open car door in 30 metres per second winds to take a photograph of the blowing snow.. hmm (see below).

Shifting Snow Dunes by Adrian Theze55mm f/11 1/400 sec. ISO-100

The ponies are a unique breed with a unique gait.  They are extremely well adapted to the Icelandic climate and when there was a general call amongst the Iceland community to treat the ponies better, many of them became ill simply because they were unused to the richness of additional food in the way of hay and silage that they were provided with.  It’s true that in times past, a good pony was the equivalent of a Porsche for young guys hoping to attract the girls.

One of the ponies I was photographing, and as an ex-teacher I know there is one in every class, took great joy in sticking his tongue out, every time I pressed the shutter..

Icelandic Pony70mm f/6.3 1/40 sec. ISO-100

I had to ask the question why farmers would keep so many ponies on their land.  Farmers, not renowned for their sentimentality when it comes to their animals (not that they don’t care for them of course), keep animals only if they can make use of them and in Iceland, the answer is meat.

Pony70mm f/6.3 1/20 sec. ISO-100

The boom in the tourist industry however has given many of these ponies a reprieve as they are proving more valuable to farmers if they rent them out for trekking.  Some farms, with spare accommodation, are offering all-inclusive riding holidays.  This is bringing in huge amounts of revenue to struggling farms.

I mentioned the unique gait of these ponies earlier, they have a way of walking, and trotting, that keeps their backs almost completely level giving the rider a very comfortable and bump free ride.  Just perfect for children and those with no riding skills.

Ponies 70mm f/6.3 1/125 sec ISO-100

In the worst of weather I have seen these ponies galloping, rolling and playing.  This tells me these animals, despite their harsh existence, enjoy life tremendously.

Ponies DSC_450670mm f/11 1/60 sec. ISO-100

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84 responses

  1. Reblogged this on My Choice and commented:
    Beautiful ponies

    February 14, 2016 at 5:32 pm

    • They have such a lovely nature! Thank you.

      February 14, 2016 at 5:34 pm

  2. Beautiful picture! Have you a good week end

    February 14, 2016 at 5:35 pm

    • Thank you very much, I wish you a very good weekend also! :-)

      February 14, 2016 at 5:38 pm

  3. Gorgeous ponies and photos!

    February 14, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    • Thank you Sara! :-)

      February 14, 2016 at 5:38 pm

  4. Beautiful photos and a nice reflection.

    February 14, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    • Thank you very much Mike!

      February 14, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      • Any ponies in Cornwall?

        February 14, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      • There are no wild ponies but just across the border in Devon, there are the Dartmoor ponies very similar to these.

        February 14, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      • Thanks for the info. I’ll have to check those out.

        February 15, 2016 at 2:42 pm

  5. Great shots Adrian of a wonderful animal perfectly adapted to it’s environment.

    February 14, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    • Thank you Mark! They really are beautiful creatures!

      February 14, 2016 at 6:26 pm

  6. Beautiful shots, especially of the landscape and dusting snow sweeping across the scene.

    February 14, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    • Thank you Mary! :-)

      February 14, 2016 at 7:15 pm

  7. Icelandic horses are gorgeous and you managed to capture them even more beautiful!! Love these photos

    February 14, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    • They are gorgeous arent’ they? Thanks for your comment! :-)

      February 14, 2016 at 7:15 pm

  8. Another set of fantastic photos of Iceland ~ and being a country boy there is nothing quite like a horse/pony to feel at home. However, I must admit the opening photo looks nothing like any of the places where I live – shivered just viewing it, but you are right about photographers – getting out in such weather allows for the photo you’ve shown. Brilliant.

    February 14, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    • Thank you Randal. These ponies are such gentle, friendly creatures. I must admit the opening photo was a bit of a struggle but I was glad I made the effort! :-)

      February 14, 2016 at 7:20 pm

  9. Interesting read, Adrian. The last photo really gets across ho well adapted they are. Boy, it looks COLD! In NYC today it’s -1 degree F. I’m not missing that!

    February 14, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    • Thank you Lynn. It was a bit chilly, yes and I’m certainly not as well adapted as those ponies. I’ve no doubt that you are not missing -1 degree f. :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 11:46 am

  10. They are adorable, aren’t they! And the joy of their rustic figures against the snow – then you know you are in Iceland.

    February 14, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    • THank you Ann Christine. The ponies are such a feature of the landscape I thought I really ought to post about them this time.

      February 15, 2016 at 11:47 am

      • Good idea. They are real “land marks” and essential to the Icelandic soul.

        February 15, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      • Thank you Ann Christing, I thought it was about time I posted about these lovley animals! :-)

        February 16, 2016 at 8:38 pm

  11. Those ponies are absolute sweethearts and your first photo is a marvel! I mean… WOW!

    February 14, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    • Thank you very much Pan!

      February 15, 2016 at 11:47 am

  12. Wonderful portrets of the ponies

    February 14, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    • Thank you very much Lou! :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 11:48 am

  13. I just love these Adrian, they are simply adorable and I’m SO glad they are being used to support tourism rather than for MEAT (UGH)!!! Beautiful captures as always.

    February 14, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    • Thank you very much Tina. It is rather hard to think about these lovely creatures being used for meat but I guess some of that is historical, on an island so devoid of resources, people survived somehow. Cattle struggle in the cold (they’re kept indoors these days) and the same with pigs, sheep and pony it was. I confess to being a meat eater but a bit of a coward in that I try and disassociate the meat from the animal in my mind.

      February 15, 2016 at 11:52 am

  14. So incredible! Your pictures are so very precious.

    February 14, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    • Thank you very much Isabel. Nice to hear from you!

      February 15, 2016 at 11:53 am

  15. Sue

    Most interesting, Adrian :)

    February 14, 2016 at 10:00 pm

    • Thank you Sue! :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 11:53 am

  16. Beautiful ponies!

    February 15, 2016 at 12:42 am

    • They are indeed PK.

      February 15, 2016 at 11:53 am

  17. What a fun post. That first shot gave me the shivers, but the ponies are adorable. It’s amazing they seem to thrive in such extreme conditions.

    February 15, 2016 at 4:42 am

    • Thank you Gunta! The ponies coats must be pretty incredible. As I said to Lynn, I’m certainly not as well adapted as the ponies despite spending a lot on outdoor gear for extreme conditions! :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 11:55 am

  18. These ponies are like beautiful and adorable altogether. Wild yet domestic. I love these animals, but sadly haven’t had a chance to visit Iceland! Thank you for sharing the photos :)

    February 15, 2016 at 5:19 am

    • Perhaps you’ll get the chance to visit Iceland one day. I heartily recommend it. Thanks for your comment! :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 11:56 am

  19. On my recent visit to Iceland (so wonderful, your photos are making me feel nostalgic!) I was surprised to see these small horses out in snow covered fields, no grass apparent anywhere, when all other animals were kept indoors. Clearly very sturdy and completely at home in the snow. The ‘horse rental’ signs were everywhere, so I assumed that in summer horse trekking is big business. Lovely to see them again in your great photos.

    February 15, 2016 at 5:32 am

    • Thank you so much Anna! I’m glad I was able to bring back some nice memories for you. It is surprising that these ponies seems to exist on nothing very much. The ponies photograhed had recently been fed some silage so they don’t all struggle quite so hard as they once did and some still do.

      February 15, 2016 at 11:58 am

  20. Your last photo, showing the ponies in their environment, is wonderful.
    I thought only photographers were crazy enough to do the things we do for a photograph but recently I’ve seen some pretty extreme fishermen! :)

    February 15, 2016 at 9:54 am

    • Thanks Noeline. I had heard that fishermen were similarly encumbered! :-D

      February 15, 2016 at 11:44 am

  21. Great photography and I love the lesson. thanks teacher :-)

    February 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    • Thank you and you’re most welcome! :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm

  22. I commend and thank you for your efforts, Adrian…that first image, in particular, is quite amazing…full of the living weather and strikingly beautiful to my Winter-loving mind.

    February 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    • Thank you Scott, a kindred spirit! :-)

      February 15, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      • You are most welcome, Adrian…and yes, a kindred spirit, indeed. :)

        February 19, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      • =:-)

        February 19, 2016 at 3:28 pm

  23. Pingback: Blogbummel Februar 2016 – 1. Teil – buchpost

  24. Your website is quite magnificent. Great job!

    February 15, 2016 at 9:18 pm

    • Thank you very much! :-)

      February 16, 2016 at 8:39 pm

  25. Pingback: Icelandic Ponies – Deep-pockets

  26. I love these horses / ponies. All wonderful shots but I do love the last one where you really see them in their environment.

    February 16, 2016 at 1:46 am

    • Thank you Edith, much appreciated!

      February 16, 2016 at 8:38 pm

  27. They do look very sweet.

    February 16, 2016 at 9:58 am

    • They are lovely gentle creatures Shimon. Not at all bad tempered as I think I would be and they have every right to be, stuck out there in the cold without shelter.

      February 16, 2016 at 8:37 pm

  28. These horses are really pretty but I’m totally scared of them.

    February 21, 2016 at 10:00 am

    • Thank you Gin. It’s a shame you’re scared of the ponies. They really are such very gently, friendly creatures.

      February 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm

      • I know, it’s completely irrational

        February 23, 2016 at 10:15 am

      • Phobias often are.. :-)

        February 23, 2016 at 7:55 pm

  29. That last shot puts the ponies and their environment into perspective. Such beauty!

    February 21, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    • Thank you Elena. These little guys lead such a harsh existence but it doesn’t seem to phase them one little bit. They’re perfectly adapted.

      February 21, 2016 at 6:26 pm

  30. Beautiful! So at home in the other-wordly environment!

    February 21, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    • Thank you yes they are. Apparently totally content! :-)

      February 21, 2016 at 6:26 pm

  31. Well, I’ve never seen a horse/pony/mule/ass with it’s tongue out like that! I must mention that first image – I can sense the wind so clearly. Why don’t ponies get frostbite I wonder?

    February 23, 2016 at 8:27 am

    • It’s incredible Andy. These ponies are out there in the most extreme conditons and yet they thrive on it. Why no frostbite indeed, you’d think those ears at the very least would be so vulnerable to the cold and the wind.

      February 23, 2016 at 7:54 pm

  32. excellent work :)

    February 24, 2016 at 10:32 am

    • Thank you Joshi!

      February 24, 2016 at 7:27 pm

  33. I’m desperate to visit Iceland, I’m obsessed with it for some reason…

    February 25, 2016 at 7:52 am

    • I hope that you get to visit one day. It is a very beautiful place and a place of great energy.

      February 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      • Thanks! Me too. Yes I can imagine so – that’s what I feel about Cornwall. Dramatic and emotive.

        February 25, 2016 at 5:55 pm

      • Absolutely! :-)

        February 25, 2016 at 6:06 pm

  34. The Icelandic ponies are beautiful and hardy animals. But I do remember “fola hakk” in the grocery stores when I visited Iceland. :-)

    March 3, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    • Thank you Otto. Yes, ‘fola hakk’ is still very much in evidence! :-)

      March 12, 2016 at 5:21 pm

  35. These are absolutely beautiful animals

    July 20, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    • They really are Kaylyn! So docile and friendly, very nice natures. Thank you for your comment! :-)

      July 21, 2016 at 6:44 am

  36. Wow! Gorgeous photos. A side of Iceland I hadn’t even thought about.

    August 10, 2016 at 4:05 am

    • Thank you very much Kevin! :-)

      August 10, 2016 at 6:55 am

  37. I love them! I will be travelling to Iceland in October and hoping to see a few.of these guys around!

    September 1, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    • I’m sure you will have a wonderful time in Iceland Stace! Many Icelandic ponies are taken to the highlands in the Autumn where they spend the winter but I’m sure you’ll see plenty around still in October. They are wonderful, docile, friendly creatures who incredibly survive the most extreme weather in inaccessible parts of the country in the winter months. Thank you for your comment, much appreciated. :-)

      September 2, 2016 at 12:34 pm