Northeast Icelandic Horse Club



We have just started compiling answers to question people often ask club members. Have some fun exploring what we have so far and check back often for updates.

What is Thorrablot (Þorrablót)?

In Iceland, Thorrablot (Þorrablót) is a midwinter feast that originated in ancient times as a pagan festival, but that adapted and continued as life and times changed. It is traditionally held during the month of Thorri (Þorri), which begins on the first Friday after January 19. Nowadays, it's a party held during the coldest and darkest days of the year, a great way for people to get together to have some fun and shake off the winter blahs.

Although individual traditions may vary, a Thorrablot celebration usually begins with a dinner featuring a collection of foods that might have been on the daily menu for Vikings, but that could easily make the average American pretty queasy. Traditionally, many of those foods were smoked or pickled the previous year, so (as you can probably imagine) they are rather strong. Here is a list of some of that "fare for the fearless":

  • Hákari (putrefied shark)
  • Blóðmör (blood pudding in lamb stomachs)
  • Hrútspungur (ram's scrotum with testicles)
  • Lundabaggi (meat rolls made of lamb soured in whey)
  • Svinasulta (lamb's head chopped down to almost paste and soured in whey)
  • Svið (jellied sheep's head)
  • Harðfiskur (dried fish and butter)
  • Flatkokur (thin rye bread)
  • Hangikjot (smoked lamb)

After dinner, there are usually games, songs, stories, dancing and (of course) a chance to lift a friendly glass or two with friends. Brennivin, a kind of Icelandic schnapps made from potatoes and caraway, helps wash away the taste of anything you had for dinner that you didn't like!

The NEIHC Thorrablot celebration shares the original Icelandic idea of getting together with friends for some good food and fun to make sure Old Man Winter doesn't get us down. The get-together also includes the club's annual meeting. We try to meet at a member's farm or home in a location that is as close to centrally located as possible.

We take care of the business first (including electing our Board of Directors), but we try to keep the annual meeting brief so we can get to the fun part—the potluck dinner and party. We've got some wonderful cooks in the group, so the food is always great, and you can sure there will be plenty of stories about one of our favorite topics—Icelandic horses!

What are breed evaluations?

The Icelandic horse is the only breed that has one international breeding standard. Judges are trained to use the same criteria all over the world to look at a horse's the merits. During a breeding evaluation, trained judges assess how closely each horse matches the breed standard. The scores from these evaluations can then be used to help guide decisions about breeding.

During the breeding evaluation, horses are judged on each of the following traits from the breed standard. A score is assigned to each trait, from 5.0 (the lowest) to 10.0 (a perfect score).

  • Head
  • Neck-Withers-Shoulders
  • Back and Croup
  • Proportions
  • Legs (Quality)
  • Legs (Joints)
  • Hooves
  • Mane and Tail
  • Tölt
  • Trot
  • Pace
  • Gallop
  • Spirit
  • General Impression
  • Slow Tölt
  • Canter

Each trait carries a different weight in the calculations, but, in general, each horse's conformation and riding scores are averaged, and those whose scores total 8.0 and above are crowned "first prize." First prize Icelandic horses are considered most desirable as breeding animals as they are closer to the breeding goals established by FEIF, the International Federation of Icelandic Horse Associations. Of course, other attributes such as temperament, parentage, health, age, etc. may also be considered when breeding horses.

WorldFengur is the studbook of origin for the Icelandic horse as well as the official central database containing information on every registered Icelandic horse around the world. As horses receive their evaluation scores, the scores are immediately entered into the WorldFengur database.

The best way to understand what a breeding evaluation is and why they are valuable is to see one for yourself. Below are links to two sites with videos of actual evaluations showing how they work, why they are important, and how much you can learn by attending.