Also Known By: Føroyar (Danish), Foerøerne, Faeroe Island Horse, Föroyski Hesturin (Faroese)
The horses found on the Faeroe Islands are one of the oldest and purest breeds of horses found today. They are comparable with the Icelandic Pony in that they also are of ancient origin and have been bred pure, at least in part, due to isolated conditions.
The Faeroe Islands are located in the North Atlantic between Iceland and the Shetland Islands. There are seventeen inhabited islands and several islets and reefs, in total, covering 540 square miles. The climate is oceanic and mild with little variation in temperature. The islands see frequent fog and rain, approximately 60 inches a year. There are no reptiles or indigenous land mammals found in the Faeroe Islands. They are naturally treeless due to the strong western winds and frequent gales. They were first settled by Irish monks in approximately 700 A.D. and were colonized by Vikings around 800.
The Faeroes pony resemble horses brought to Europe from Asia in about 200 A.D. These small horses were brought to the islands by the early Celtic and Scandinavian settlers.
Before the formation of the the association for the Faeroes pony there were only five individuals still in existence. By 1988, the numbers had increased to 27 due to preservation efforts of concerned breeders. All the animals have been entered into the stud book and their blood types have been identified. They have also been evaluated for breeding purposes and 24 of the animals were approved for breeding.
Most Faeroes are bay with some black. They are also sometimes found in brown but never in gray or skewbald. Occasionally a palomino or pale dun appears in the breed. The hair is thick and grows very heavy in the winter.
Reference:Hendricks, Bonnie L., International Encyclopedia of Horse Breeds, Univ of Oklahoma Press, 1995.Photographs:
Mason, I.L. 1996. A World Dictionary of Livestock Breeds, Types and Varieties. Fourth Edition. C.A.B International. 273 pp.Irdi Petersen, FO-513 Sydrugöta, The Faroe Islands