Icelandic Culture in the American Heartland

A bit of Icelandic culture will be on display in Truro, Iowa September 6-9! We’re thrilled to be hosting an Icelandic Horse Breeding Evaluation and Sport Show. This special breed is central to Iceland’s culture, and the Iowa events will reflect the traditional presentations of the island. Beautiful horses and exciting competition, all in a friendly and casual atmosphere.


The breeding of Icelandic horses is carefully monitored by the Icelandic horse association and every conscientious breeder is very familiar with the international studbook, Worldfengur. Most horses that are considered as good breeding possibilities are shown at a “breeding evaluation.” Such events occur frequently in Iceland but have been a rarity in the United States. 

What to Expect at the Breeding Evaluation

  1. Young horses, generally around 5-7 years old will be evaluated for conformation and riding abilities.

  2. Judges must be certified by the international federation, FEIF as a breeding judge. There are currently only 34 people in the world that hold the esteemed title of “international breeding judge.”

  3. Horses receive a score for various elements of conformation, including:

    1. Physical build

    2. Quality of feet

    3. Mane and tail

  4. Each horse is allowed ten passes on a 300 meter straight track to exhibit the best movements of their horse. Horses also receive marks for their movement in the five natural Icelandic gaits:
    1. Walk

    2. Trot

    3. Slow Tölt / Fast Tölt

    4. Canter

    5. Pace

  5. Finally, the horses are given a score for “spirit,” which is evaluated by the sensitivity of the animal’s response to cues from the rider.


Top Scores

Horses with a cumulative score of 8.00 (with 10 being the highest) are considered “first prize.” The federation encourages breeders to use highly evaluated mares and stallions in an effort to improve the breed’s health and movement.


Sport shows are an occasion to display the partnership of rider and horse. There are classes for professionals, intermediate riders, novices, beginners and youth. Riders choose classes based on the talents of their horse. Sanctioned classes include tölt, four gait, five gait and pace classes.

What to Expect in Sanctioned Classes at the Sport Show

  1. Classes (except pace classes!) are shown on an oval track, 250 meters in circumference. In the preliminary rounds, horses are shown either individually, or in groups of 4-5 riders and riders may choose to ride on either the left or right rein. The top five riders advance to the finals, held on the following day.

  2. Pace classes are held on the 300 meter straight track and feature the lateral gait at very high speeds. Individual runs are timed and might also require specific technical transitions from trot or tölt to canter and then to pace. Some shows also include pace races, with 3 or four horse and riders on the track together.

  3. The scoring scale is from 1-10, with the very rare score of 10 being the highest.

Non-sanctioned classes include the trail class and cross country class. These classes really show off the unique personality of the Icelandic horse – calm, willing, sure-footed and capable.

What to Expect in Non-Sanctioned Classes at the Sport Show

  1. Riders go through a series of obstacles and perform required “tasks,” which may include:

    1. Riding through water

    2. Riding over varied terrain

    3. Jumping

    4. Scary encounters

  2. The Beer Tölt! No Icelandic show is complete without the famous beer tölt. To illustrate the smooth gait of tölt, riders hold a full stein of beer. Whoever spills the least is the winner and everyone finishes by enjoying what remains in their glass!

Audiences are welcome at both the Breeding Evaluation and the Sport Show! We invite you to join us at the farm for a little glimpse into Icelandic culture and a lot of fun!