By all characteristics and ancestry, the Icelandic Horse is a pony. And it's OK!
Calling it a horse was part of the marketing scheme. Not such a good one for North America.
Here are a couple of excerpts from a wonderful article by Mill Swamp Indian Horses:
I ride ponies and I am an adult. I ride ponies and I am a large adult. I ride ponies and I ride them long and hard.
I ride because they give me what I want, which is to ride for hours on end on woods trails with my family. I have no need to pull a beer wagon. I do not fox hunt. I will never ride in the Kentucky Derby. In short, I do nothing with my ponies that would require me to feed an extra 400 pounds and two hands of horseflesh. My Indian Horses range from about 13.1 to 14.2 hands. They have heavy bones and iron-hard hooves. I doubt if any of them weigh over nine hundred pounds. Each carries my two hundred pound frame with grace and ease.
I ride ponies because they are healthy, easy keepers. My Indian Horses do not need grain.
I ride ponies because they are easier to handle than tall heavy horses. I do not need a cherry picker to saddle up. I do not need an elevator to mount up. When I fall off, I only have a short descent to make. When they step on my feet, I do not end up lame.
Even with all these advantages, I am still asked why I ride those poor little things that are, after all, “only ponies.” To make matters worse, children often start out on ponies and then graduate to horses. Ponies are viewed as the equine equivalent of training pants and horses, especially big horses, are the big boy pants of the properly potty-trained equestrian.
Many riders are self-conscious of their own weight problems and feel that they call attention to their weight by riding the smaller equines. Worst of all, many riders are simply unaware of the carrying capacity of a well-built, well-conditioned pony. I will never forget being told by a woman with life-long equestrian experience that my 14-hand Indian Horse could never carry her because he was “just a pony.” She looked to weigh about fifty pounds less than me.
I ride ponies because heart is not measured in hands.
Jineta saddles and jineta style riding is balanced riding where the saddle has stirrups more centered, which allows for the rider to be balanced and in alignment from shoulder, hip, heel. "The jineta saddle promotes loin coiling in the horse, ensuring his comfort and mobility including that of his rider." (Quote from the Conquerors.)
Brida saddles and brida style riding is heavy to the rear, feet forward, riding the horse's face. "Brida" is short for "riding from the hand". "The rider's weight pressing down on the tabs crushed the horse's loins, ensuring that he maintain a hollow back, a high head position, and often, a forced ambling gait." (Quote from the Conquerors.)
Icelandic saddles are brida style. This is not necessarily a good thing for the horse. We should be looking to use balanced saddles on our Icelandic Horses.