The team analyzed the number of breeders and breed associations with web sites throughout the world. Based on the number of web sites, they ranked the breeds by popularity. Icelandic horses come in at number 15 in this ranking!!!!
Here are the top 15 and the number of web sites: Arabian (939), Quarter Horse (911), Paint (698), Miniature (543, Thoroughbred (371), Appaloosa (334), Morgan (294), Tennessee Walker (241), Welsh Pony (215), Andalusian (164), Missouri Fox Trotter (127), Friesian (116), Peruvian Paso (84), Paso Fino (84), Icelandic (81).
Note this does not correlate to number of horses per breed--just the number of web sites. And certainly popularity can be defined in many ways besides number of web sites. Also, I wonder if the team, which seems to originate from India, searched for "Icelandic horse" in all of its multiple spellings across languages such as Islander, islandhast, etc. For example, I counted 36 Icelandic horse breeders on the USIHC website, which does not represents all Icelandic horse farms in the US--only those that pay to be listed on the website. There are probably dozens more Icelandic horse breeders in the US. And the US probably has fewer Icelandic horse breeders than Iceland, Sweden, Germany, etc.
However, this is an exceeding minor quibble since the scholars working on this dissertation were focusing on computer generation of the horse and not on the Icelandic horse.