Holar University College in cooperation with the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU) in Uppsala in Sweden has recently (2018-2019) received grants to research further weight carrying ability of Icelandic riding horses. The total amount is 8 million ISK, thereof 5 millions from the Stock Production Fund of the Icelandic Horse Breed and 3 millions from the Agricultural Productivity Fund.
Scientists from Holar University College and SLU have already published results on the effect of the rider weight in Icelandic horses in tölt, firstly on physiological responses and secondly on the locomotion. These studies gave important results on the weight carrying ability of horses but gave also reason for further research.
Additionally the fact that the small Icelandic horse carries large riders has received increased attention, discussion and criticism, especially in the past few years. The reason is that the Icelandic horse is rather small for a riding horse, 140 cm at withers and 350 kg on average, compared to many other riding horse breeds which measure between 155-170 cm at withers and weigh about 450-550 kg. Therefore, it is important to carry out scientific studies on what it means for the Icelandic horse to carry riders of different weight.
The aim of the studies is to develop an exercise test which specifies how much weight Icelandic horses can carry during riding. Also to investigate whether there is a relationship between the conformation and muscle fibre types and weight carrying ability of Icelandic horses. Furthermore to study whether weight carrying ability of horses can be increased by training and test different training methods for that purpose.
The two Universities are looking for a PhD student to work on the project, further information here on the SLU website.
Project supervisors are Dr Anna Jansson SLU and Dr Guðrún J. Stefánsdóttir Holar University College.
(More photos on our Icelandic version of this news item).
Furthermore, we recommend reading an interview with Guðrún, on the Horses of Iceland web - accessible in Icelandic, English or German.