Onlookers Bravely Rescue Horses and Riders After They Break Through Ice

May 6, 2019 Updated: May 23, 2019

No one wants to fall through an iced-over pond and certainly no one wants that to happen to nearly 20 horses.

During the annual Championship League in Horse Sports’ tolt show Feb. 3, 2009, just that happened. While competitors cross the frozen-over Reykjavik Pond in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Icelandic horses, which have a unique fifth gait that is described as a running walk, is called a tolt. The horses and riders fell through the ice during this portion of the competition.

When falling through ice, the body goes immediately into shock within the first minute of being submerged. Those who fall in risk drowning due to involuntarily gasping for air from the cold shock. Those who fall through ice have roughly 10 minutes before they lose use of their appendages. One on looker quickly jumps to rescue the horses.

According to, journalist Fjölnir Thorgeirsson jumped into the water and help get the horses and riders out of the ice. All of the ponies and riders are rescued thanks to the work and quick response of those on site. The rescuers help to warm the animals with heat lamps after they fell through the ice as hypothermia can set in within an hour of being exposed to extremely cold temperatures.

Thanks to those brave individuals rescuing the horses and riders, everyone came out fine at the end of the day.


credit: Jukin