The Faroese horse is slightly smaller than the Icelandic horse, with which it is closely related. Just as in this breed, there are individuals who can have five gaits (walk, trot, tolt, pass, gallop). It is an independent breed, as was proved by blood tests and most recently by a DNA analysis in September 2004.
A conservation and breeding program was initiated by Leivur T. Hansen and in 1978 the organization Felagið Føroysk Ross (Breeders of Faroe Ponies) was established. With huge efforts, the Faroe pony population has now increased to 70 animals which are declared genetically pure, with 14 male breeders and the aim is to maintain and develop the breed further. The Faroe pony has since been recognised as a unique breed.
The ancestors of the Faroese horse were probably brought to the Faroe Islands together with other domestic animals in the 7th century by the Irish monks and later during the land grab by Vikings from the 9th century onwards. It has adapted well to the harsh Faroese nature, is resistant, frugal and hard.
At the turn of the century (from the 19th to the 20th century) there were still many ponies of the original Faroese breed on the islands.
Before the Second World War many ponies were exported to Great Britain as pack animals for British coal mines, where they were used like the Shetland ponies. While the Faroese pony was exported, other ponies were imported from Iceland and Norway.
The Faroese horse was crossed more and more and its characteristic features gradually disappeared. In the 1960s there were only 4-5 specimens left on the Faroe Islands. By 2007 the number of individuals of the Faroese pony had risen to 45. Currently there are about 90 horses.
Färöer Pferd — Faroese horse — Faroe Pony — Faeroes pony — Färöerpony — Faeroe Island Horse — Føroyski Hesturin — Føroyska rossið — føroysk ross — føroyski hesturin — Færøsk hest — Féroé
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