they are adapted to eating small amounts of the same kind of food all day long. In the wild, the horse adapted to eating while traveling significant distances each day in order to obtain adequate nutrition. They are sometimes called "trickle eaters," meaning they have to have an almost constant supply of food to keep their digestive system working properly. Their winter field provides plenty of grass, excellent natural shelter from the wind and a little stream gives access to running water. A very thick winter coat and some extra „fat“ gives them perfect protection even in stormy and cold weather.
They love their winter break not only because it is a physical break but also because it allows them to be a „wild horse“ again, just roaming about with the herd, grazing all day long, almost completely free of „human“ interference. We check daily on them but otherwise they are left „alone“. We believe that this is vital to their mental health, that being „free“ for a couple of months gives them the spirit and the independent mind we admire so much about our Icelandic Horses.
Sometimes people ask if they do not „forget“ everything, when they are not ridden for such a long time. And the answer is no, they don´t. Of course we need to take it slowly when we start riding again next spring to build up stamina but they do not forget anything and are actually quite quickly back to where they were. Between January and April most people start stabling their horses again to start training for the upcoming competition season or for lovely pleasure rides and horse trekking tours in the highland.
Text by: Meike Witt
Photos by: Meike & Steinunn