The horses found on the Faroe 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 Faroe 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 (1,400 km2). 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 Faroe Islands. They are naturally treeless due to the strong western winds and frequent gales. The Faroes were first settled by Irish monks in approximately 700 A.D. and were colonized by Vikings around 800.
The Faroe pony resembles 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 Association for the Faroe Pony, there were only five individuals of the breed still in existence. By 1988, this number had increased to 27 due to the 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 Faroes are bay with some black. They are also sometimes found in brown, but never gray or skewbald. Occasionally a palomino or pale dun appears in the breed. The breed's hair is thick and grows very heavy in the winter.
... The pony was used in the old days to carry or haul heavy loads at the farms and when it wasn't at work, it was released onto the mountains where it roamed free ... The Faroe pony has been on the Faroe Islands for many hundreds of years ... By the 1960s there were approximately five to six horses left on the Faroe Islands because of the extensive exporting of horses from the Faroes for use in mining (as pit ponies) in the United ...