Meet the Blue-Eyed Horses of Iceland

Posted by Stacey Venzel
All photos via Gígja Einarsdóttir/Instagram

Iceland only has one breed of horses, but it's a beautiful breed.

It didn't take selective breeding to produce majestic Icelandic horses. These equines naturally evolved to have blue eyes and white patches like the blonde-haired, sapphire-eyed Norse Vikings who brought them to the country between the 9th and 10th centuries.

To maintain the purebred equines, Iceland set stringent import regulations in place, safeguarding the animals from disease and hybridization. While the Icelandic horse is the only breed in the European nation, ones with these specific colorations are largely restricted to North Iceland in and around Hindisvík.

Iceland native Gígja Einarsdóttir was born and raised among herds of these beasts. Einarsdóttir captures the glowing azure stares with her camera lens.

Enthralled by both their temperament and beauty, she says, "They have [sic] unbelievable network of communication and energy."

Set amidst the enchanting Icelandic backdrop, an encounter with the Icelandic horse is a memorable experience, as one cameraman found out during vacation through the Nordic island's countryside.

Years ago, these horses' crystal blue "glass" eyes were deemed ugly. Younger locals and tourists are gradually transitioning this stance into an appreciation. Older generations still refer to the horses as "ghost-like."

The same can be said of albino creatures--drop-dead gorgeous to some but unappealing to others.

Not every Icelandic horse will have blue eyes, but if one does have this lens coloration, it will have the splashed white pattern as well. The two physical traits are linked genetically.

Hanný Norland Heiler of Germany relocated to Iceland where she and her husband now raise a stable with these equines roaming around. Heiler says horses can be carriers of the color-coding gene without expressing it, so in order to see foals with these characteristics, a stallion and mare that express them must be mated.

If you're itching to hop on the next plane to Iceland to get a first-hand glimpse, have at it! In the meantime, you can live vicariously through Gígja Einarsdóttir's horse-infused Instagram, @gigijaeinars.

All photos via Gígja Einarsdóttir/Instagram.

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Meet the Blue-Eyed Horses of Iceland