Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1946/19227
The objective of this research has been to examine whether and how the image of the Icelandic horse has developed through the years, especially during the last 20-30 years, and whether the image of a high-stepping competitive toelter horse has become the artistic image of the Icelandic horse. In other words, has the Icelandic horse, intentionally or unintentionally, been designed?
The impetus for the research is based on the repeated worries expressed in scholarly and magazine articles and which point to the goal in breeding and presenting the image of the Icelandic horse, and that the emphasis on specific characteristics of their features can conceivably make Icelandic horse stocks look too much alike and possibly that the ancient characteristics can disappear, which could affect general horsemanship.
In addition to studying the bibliography, 10 interviews were held with horsemen, both those interested, those working in the field and scholars, and a special search was made for pictures of horses demonstrating the toelt in the Eiðfaxi periodical which has been published monthly since its founding 35 years ago and the percentage of toelt pictures calculated for each issue.
The results of the research indicate that there is a discrepancy between the image of the Icelandic horse itself and the expectations of it. The toelter stance is obvious from about 1960 and seems to have its roots in the promotion of the American saddle horses. Photographs of horses in the typical toelter stance became later the main standard for the respect shown the horses and the ability of the horses as well as the ability of the trainers and jockies.
After reviewing the references and taking into account the results of this research it can be debated whether the promotion by Gunnar Bjarnarson of the Icelandic family horse on foreign soil about 1950 brought about a transformation in the development of the image of the Icelandic horse.
It is hoped that the results of this project will lead people to think about the important inheritance that the Icelandic horse represents: the results show clearly that more research is needed as well as a general review of the objectives in breeding and the basis of assessment. The research material will at the same time be used to publish a scholarly book about the Icelandic horse and its development which will take more account of the preservation of its nature and its role in the nation’s inheritance, and will include pictures showing its characteristics and its nature.
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