DAY 4: GREAT HORSES, FACILITIES, AND SHOWS

We spent the last day of the Horse Expo on two amazing farms and ended up the day at the riding club Fákur in Reykjavík and a big stallion show in the riding hall of Sprettur. 

First stop was on the farm Kvistir - not the Kvistir we visited the other day, but another one, where Benedikt G Benediktsson and his wife Guðrún Pálína Haraldsdóttir live. Here the horses from Stóra-Vatnsskarð are trained. Benni is born and raised on the farm Stóra-Vatnsskarð in the northern part of Iceland. His parents still live there and the horses are growing up on the big fields nearby the farm. When the horses are ready for training they come to the Kvistir just outside Selfoss. 

Benni had made a tight and well organized program for us where we got to see many of his lovely horses. We started by checking out the breeding mares and especially one of them is very speciel to Benni — the mare Lukka frá Stóra-Vatnsskarði, the highest evaluated mare in the world. She is the mother of many great daughters and sons and they where lined up in the stable as well. Benni proudly also showed us Lukku-Láki frá Stóra-Vatnsskarði, a son of Lukka and Álfur frá Selfossi. 

Afterwards the trainers showed us a couple of horses under saddle and we even got a private pace showoff on the road in front of the house. We also enjoyed seeing both 2 and 3 years old horses running while standing on the fields together with all the foals from last year. And to finish the show before a chat and a coffee in the stable, Lukku-Láki showed off in beautiful trot and slow canter. He really enjoys the attention and this season he is in training at Árbakki and will be ridden by Hinrik Bragason, whom we visited the other day. 

It was a great pleasure to meet the family at Kvistir, enjoying horses at all ages, and to hear about the breeding of some of the best horses in the world. 

Just on the other side of the “highway” the next farm was located - the stunning training stable of Sunnuhvoll. Here Sigurður Sigurðsson and Anna Björg Níelsdóttir live together with their children Arnar, Glódís and Védís - and Arnar's girlfriend Árný. Arnar welcomed us in the stables and told us about the facilities and horses. The stable was build two years ago and has room for 32 horses. It is very well arranged with a riding hall in the end and from there easy to go to the oval track just outside the stable. 

Anna Björg started the breeding from Sunnuhvoll just 14 years old with the mare Saga frá Litlu-Sandvík and she has given the family 17 offsprings. In the breeding they focus a lot on the character of the horse so that everyone can ride the horses in the stable. Furthermore Arnar said that the conformation of the horse has to be good as well being both beautiful and functional. 

While having a delicious Icelandic meat soup Arnar was riding a young mare in the riding hall. Arnar explained about his training of the horses and the importance of having the horses relaxed and aware of the rider. Arnar loves to teach and it was a great demonstration. 

At Sunnuhvoll they are competing a lot and it was a pleasure to see Glódís, Védís, Árný, and Arnar showing us how they train their horses inside and afterwards giving full speed on the oval track on their impressive horses. 

After the visit at Sunnuhvoll we were heading back to Reykjavík and the stable area of Víðidal where more than 3000 horses are stabled. We met up with Siggi Mat and Edda Run in their stable and heard about their daily life training horses in Reykjavík. Since they were kids they have been training horses in this arena. They don’t breed so many horses themselves since they don’t have the time for it yet. During the breeding season they are instead busy with training horses for other people that are going to breeding shows and competitions. During the years they have won a lot of prizes and are often going abroad to teach and educate riders all over the world. Siggi and Edda are a well known couple and are selling a lot of horses too. They really enjoy finding the perfect match between horse and rider.

Just before leaving the riding club of Fákur we got to hear about the Landsmót taking place in Reykjavík in the beginning of July this summer. This year Fákur is hosting the event and with a special emphasis on making it a great event for the entire family. 

You can read much more about the event here: www.landsmot.is

To end up the Horse Expo week in Iceland perfectly we went to the big show Stóðhestaveisla, the stallion show in Reykjavík. We enjoyed the show from the first row — it was amazing to see some of the best stallions in Iceland and the atmosphere in the area was magnificent. It’s not getting any better than this! 

Thank you for following the event during the week - it has been a great pleasure to keep you all updated! 

Tempted to join the next event? 

Find more information here: http://www.icelandichorseexpo.com/fall-north/

Text and photos during the week by Althing 

DAY 3: TALENTED YOUNG RIDERS AND PROUD PRESENTATIONS

It’s really unbelievable — we have now had three days in a row with sunshine, blue sky, and almost no wind. In Iceland! It’s always fun to be with great people and see stunning horses, but it’s even better when you can also enjoy the coffee outside and take a walk on the fields to see the heard of horses. 

We started the day on the famous breeding farm Fet. The owner of the farm is Karl Wernersson but to take care of the daily run Ólafur Andri Guðmundsson is hired as a manager. Together with his wife Bylgja Gauksdóttir and their employees they trained all the horses on Fet. 

Ólafur welcomed us in the stable and took us to the riding hall. Here 3 mares — all after the same mother, where lined up. Ólafur told us about the breeding lines at Fet and how many of the horses there are related to the great Orri frá Þúfu í Landeyjum. We got to see 3 more mares and a beautiful black mare running in the riding hall. 

Afterwards some horses were saddled and the trainers showed us how they work with their horses while Ólafur explained. They started by working from the ground as a good way to warm up the horses. Besides warming up it’s a good way to feel the mood of the horse this very day.  In the daily training it’s important to get the horses to relax, being focused on the rider, and to get control of the legs of the horse. A key word from Ólafur was balance — the horse needs to be balanced both in body and mind. 

At Fet they are breaking in the horses in September the year they turn four years old. Ólafur himself showed us a young mare and demonstrated how he is working with the young horses and the importance of being able to speed up as well as slowing down. It was really intersting getting closer to the training methods at Fet. 

Inspired and excited to see more horses we went into the bus and drove to the next stop: Árbæjarhjáleiga. Here we picked up Eiríkur Vilhelm - the husband of Hekla Katharína, who took us a bit further down the road where a group of riders in orange jackets were ready to show off on the horses from Árbæjarhjáleiga. We had a great show there and the entire family - Marjolijn, Kristinn, Rakel Nathalie, and Hekla Katharína were riding the horses together with some of the trainers on the farms next to them. 

Marjolijn and Kristinn have been breeding horses for many many years and Hekla Katharína, who is now taking care of most of the daily training of the horses, told us about the farm and history. Fore example is the beautiful red stallion Jarl frá Árbæjarhjáleigu a mix of the breeding from her mother and father’s breeding before they met each other. The goal is to get Jarl in first prize for off springs — hopefully this summer at Landsmót. 

After the presentations we got a really nice lunch with lam from their own breeding as well. Besides horses the family have about 400 sheep, which especially Kristinn is taking care of. 

It was a great pleasure to meet the family at Árbæjarhjáleiga, see their powerful horses showing off in all gaits on the gravel roads and not least enjoying a cup of coffee on the slope outside the stable. You can only be a happy and positive person dealing with this view every day! 

Last farm visit on this third day of the Expo was Austurkot. Here Hugrún Jóhannsdóttir and Páll Bragi Hólmarsson live with their two children. We already got to meet Hugrún because she is also driving the Horse Expo bus. It was therefore also great fun to meet her in her favorite environment — in the stable among her horses. 

Hugrún and Páll welcomed us outside the stable with four saddled horses ready to go to the ovale track to show us some horses from their breeding. We saw a lot of good tölt, which wasn’t strange since all four horses where sired by stallions receiving 9.5 for tölt. 

When we came back to the stable Páll wanted to show us some of the foals. At Austurkot they get about 10 foals a year and we got to see 3 of them running in the riding hall. Hugrún told us that they sell quite many horses and that the horses for sale are actually the good ones — they aren’t sold because they aren’t good, but because they are good! That’s really a good way to look at it and when selling a good horse it’s possible to fulfil some of your dreams — for instance buying a farm like Hugrún said.  

We also got to see a beautiful red stallion, Sjáfur frá Austurkoti. He moved around in the riding hall with big and supple movements. Unfortunately he is injured and can’t be used for riding any more. Instead they keep him as a stallion for breeding because he is a really good four gaited stallion with the AC-gene, which makes him interesting as a breeding horse. To keep the Icelandic horse breed both four gaited and five gaited new study shows the importance of the combination of genes when it comes to gaits. Many people are aiming for the AA-gene which include pace, but to Hugrún and Páll it’s important to keep breeding horses without the gene for pace as well. 

We had a great stay at Austurkot and it was a pleasure to see all the horses proudly being presented for us. 

After the farm visits we had a short time in the guest house and hotel to change clothes before moving on in today’s program: Next up, the final night of the Meistaradeildin where the best riders in Iceland are competing in T1 and speedpace! 

Now we are ready for a great final day of the Expo!

DAY 2: TOMATOES AND NEW GENERATIONS

Yet another great day in the southern part of Iceland is over! We started the day at the farm Kvistir just outside Hella. The farm in own by the German man Günther Weber but run by Sigvaldi L. Gudmundsson, who lives there with his wife Marta Gunnarsdóttir and their two children Elísabet Líf and Helgi Hrafn. In 1998 Günther build up the entire place and even brought the materials from Germany. Kvistir has been run as a top professional training stable since and many really good competition horses have the name “frá Kvistum”. Fore example Muni frá Kvistum, Óliver frá Kvistum and not least Ómur frá Kvistum. As Sigvaldi said: “Home of the champions”. 

We got to say hi to Ómur as well and using him as an example Sigvaldi talked about what he is looking for when breeding. He wants to breed light horses with long legs, that has a strong topline, strong legs, and high withers: “When you are ridning the horse, you should get the feeling of an airplane taking off.” 

After having coffee and Icelandic sweets and cake both Sigvaldi and Elísabet showed us how they train the horses and demonstrated how good it is for the young riders to have a horse they can trust and have fun with. Elísabet is 9 years old and just started to compete on the black mare María. Furthermore, we had the pleasure of seeing a young Ómur-son who made an enthusiastic show for os running free in the riding hall.

We ended the visit at Kvistir by seeing the great Ómur showing off with Sigvaldi in the saddle on the roads near by the farm. 

Petra drove the bus further into the country. Next stop was Friðheimar where Knútur and Helena live. The don’t just breed horses, they are also growing a whole lot of tomatoes. Actually they grow so many tomatoes that they are selling to the super markeds and are running a really good restaurant with all kind of dishes with tomatoes. And the delicious food is served in the middle of the big green houses. 

At Friðheimar, the principle has been to grow tomatoes with optimum taste quality, while maintaining eco-friendly standards. The tomatoes are now grown all year, using state-of-the-art technology in an environmentally-friendly way. Green energy, pure water and biological pest controls make for tasty and healthful tomatoes.

After the ultimate tomato experience we went to see the stable and the horses there. Knútur has been training horses since he was a child and are still breeding 1-3 foals a year. During the summer time guests can enjoy the popular horse show at Friðheimar and get to know more about the Icelandic horse breed.

Third and last farm of the day was Þóroddsstaðir. On Þóroddsstaðir Bjarni and Margrétar have been breeding horses for many many years. 

The goal is to fulfill the dream about well–shaped horses with great riding abilities. Bjarni put emphasis on the importance of the mares in the breeding: That it is very important to have good mares to succes in breeding. Today they only use first prize mares on Þóroddsstaðir. So to Bjarni quality comes definitely before quantity.

“We like our horses to be easy to break in and easy to ride: Our children had their first and only riding experience on these horses. As grown-ups they have become outstanding riders and trainers. That is also a breeding goal, by the way! One could say that the breeding will soon be taken over by our son Bjarni, and many of the horses are already owned by him.”

And Bjarni — the son of Bjarni, afterwards showed us two horses to talk about the conformation of the horses and then showed us a beautiful black stallion in all five gaits on the gravel road. 

To end the day on the farms perfectly Bjarni’s grandson Hrói rode his white mare Spöng frá Þóroddsstöðum. Hrói is 5 years old and Spöng 20 years old! 

After the farm visits we went to the shop Baldvin & Þorvaldur where we had the chance to buy some riding gear and chat before going to the Breeders Night. We had a great dinner and got to talk with all the breeders we have been and will be visiting the next days. 

Tomorrow we are ready for even more Icelandic horse power and sunshine!

Day 1: Fantastic weather and fabulous horses

We started the day at the farm Halakot where Svanhvít Kristjánsdóttir lives and trains her horses. Most Icelandic horse people knew her husband, the great horse man Einar Öder, who sadly passed away a few years ago. Svanhvít continues the ambitious breeding, but the world champion Glóðafeykir frá Halakoti is an excellent example of their good horses.

The barn at Halakot is beautifully shaped with six corners and the boxes placed in a circle around the middle. The ground in the middle is used for lounging, work from hand, and as a small indoor working and relaxing spot in bad weather.

Today the weather was amazing and the sun shining. Svanhvít showed us two powerful horses on the road between the fields. First the beautiful Bay stallion Ötull frá Halakoti sired by Herjólfur frá Ragnheidarstöðum and then a daughter of Hnokki fra Fellskoti, Hraunglóð frá Halakoti. Both horses are out of the mare Glóð frá Grjóteyri.

We had a great first visit to Halakot and the bus then took us further into the country — next stop Árbakki/Hestvit. 

At Árbakki Hinrik Bragason and Hulda Gústafsdóttir run their business. Besides training horses they also export a lot of horses from Iceland. Actually they were the biggest exporting company in 2016 and 2017. 

Hulda was waiting for us in the door and Hinrik was about to saddle the first horse to show us when we arrived to the farm. Hulda and Hinrik are competing a lot and many well known horses have been trained and are trained at Árbakki. While Hinrik showed us the daily training of two horses - Hrokur frá Hjardartuni and Nutið frá Koltursey, Hulda told us about their horses, the breeding, and how they train the horses. She told about the character of the horse; why it is so important that the horses have a great temper and are fast learners. Big movements and strength are not worth something if the character of the horse is not good. 

After the presentations of the horses in the riding hall, we had a great lunch in the coffee room. On the walls all the trophies were standing one by one — you didn't really doubt that here live top motivated competitive people. 

We also got to see a beautiful bay stallion running in the riding hall. He was a good example of a horse with a great temper, but also a powerful mind and with elastic and big movements. He was really something special — Arður frá Efri-Þverá. 

Last stop on this first day of the Icelandic Horse Expo Spring-South was on the farm Strandarhöfð. The farm is owned by Guðmundur Már Stefansson and Auður M. Möller, but Ásmundur Ernir Snorrason and his girlfriend Stella Sólveig Pálmarsdóttir are running the stable together with their employe Matthías Elmar Tómasson. The farm was renovated in 2009 and is now a top professional training stable with space for almost 40 horses in training and a riding hall.

Ásmundur started by going through all the horses and told us about their age, bloodlines, and state of training. Afterwards we got to see a young stallion, Ás frá Strandarhöfði, a son of Lukku-Láki Frá Stóra-Vatnsskarði, running in the ridning hall. Ásmundur really likes this young stallion and was excited himself to see him run in the hall without rider. The movements were really light and the horse ran easily around with a beautifully arched neck. Afterwards Ásmundur was riding the stallion Dökkvi, which is one of Stella’s favorites in the stable. A really good four gaited stallion. 

Before seeing more horses under rider, there was a lottery. And the lucky winner could choose a coverage under one of the stallions from Strandarhöfð! What a prize, and the winner was really excited and now just need to find a good mare as well. 

To end a perfect Expo day, Ásmundur and Stella showed us two powerful horses on the road in front of the stable. It was a fantastic view in the sun, with a bit of snow on the ground, and the magic Icelandic landscape in the background. 

We are looking forward to another great Expo day tomorrow filled with interesting talks, blue sky, and passion for the Icelandic horse! 

Welcome to the Icelandic Horse Expo Spring-South 2018!

A bus full of excited Icelandic horse lovers just arrived in Selfoss tonight. Together we had a great welcome by the Expo team at the bar Krían where we got Icelandic meat soup and the chance to get to know each other a little bit better. During the next four days we are going to learn a lot more about how they breed, train, and educate horses on some of the most well known horse farms in the south of Iceland. We also get to enjoy some of the biggest horse shows in Iceland - Meistaradeildin on Friday night and Stóðhestaveisla Saturday night. 

Everyone is excited about the days to come and The Icelandic Horse Expo started out with a beautiful sunset and some young horses enjoying life on the big fields just outside Selfoss.

READY, SET, GO - HERE WE COME! 

One bus, more than 35 people with a passion for the Icelandic horse, great weather and good mood – that´s the perfect combination when going south for the Icelandic Horse Expo Spring 2018.      
 

What is the Icelandic Horse Expo?

Our concept is very simple: we want to help connect people who share a great passion for the Icelandic horse and invite them to come together where it all began. It is here in Iceland that we will visit some of the best breeding farms of the country, experience an amazing program with delicious food and fantastic shows. The main thing is to meet fellow horse lovers and help build an even better international Icelandic Horse community.
 

Follow the event

During the next five days we will be uploading articles and beautiful photos here on www.icelandichorseexpo.com and Facebook



During the Icelandic Horse Expo Spring 2018 we visit the following farms: 

Árbakki/Hestvit

Kvistir

Austurkot

Þóroddstaðir

Strandarhöfuð

Sunnuhvoll

Halakot

Stóra Vatnsskarð / Kvistir

Friðheimar

Árbæjarhjáleiga

Fet

 

Read the pre interviews with all the farms here: 

http://www.icelandichorseexpo.com/new-blog/

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HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Friðheimar

The Icelandic Horse Expo is neither a sales show nor an exhibition. It is rather an opportunity for horse lovers from outside Iceland to come and experience the Icelandic horse in its natural surroundings, to build bridges and friendships across countries. 

On our way around South Iceland we will also get to know Knutur and Helena at Friðheimar better. 


"Friðheimar is a greenhouse and a horse breeding farm. It's an open farm were we welcome 160.000 guests every year to visit our stable and greenhouse where we also have a restaurant. 

During the summer months, Friðheimar offers its own horse show: A Meeting with the Icelandic Horse, available in fourteen different languages, with an accompaniment of lively Icelandic music.  And all year around we also offer a visit to our stable were we tell about the Icelandic horse and show one horse in all 5 gaits.

We have build up our farm since 1995 when we bought it.  Knutur Armann finished Hólar in 1994 and Helena the horticulture in Gardyrkjuskólinn Hveragerdi also in 1994.

Horses have been bred at Friðheimar since 1995,  8 horses have been shown at breeding evaluations, of which 4 received first prize – an overall score of 8.0 or higher. The stud is now raising some very promising colts – and our mares are only bred with prize-winning stallions.

Horse breeding is a long-term business, but now each year two or three promising youngsters are ready to start training. Friðheimar owns a total of about forty five horses.  

Ever since we started breeding horses at Friðheimar in 1995, our aim has been to breed willing, good-looking individuals with good neck and shoulders and a good disposition. We place a lot of emphasis on good tölt, high graceful leg action and style, preferably five-gaiters, or good riding horses with extended gaits and speed.

Stallions from various bloodlines are bred with the mares, and we make sure to select an outstanding stud to cover each mare."

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Árbæjarhjáleiga

Many people in Iceland are growing up with the horses as a natural part of their life. The children go horseback riding even before they walk and later on they help with the daily run of the farm - and some might even take over the business.

ÁRBÆJARHJÁLEIGA

Árbæjarhjáleiga is located in the south of Iceland - close to the town Hella. Marjolijn and Kristinn have owned the farm and lived here with their two daughters Hekla Katharína and Rakel Nathalie since 1992. In 2017 Hekla Katharína and her husband Eiríkur Vilhelm began to run the stable.

About the breeding at Árbæjarhjáleiga Hekla Katharína tells: “We have had good luck with some truly great horses from our farm. The highest judged is Jarl frá Árbæjarhjáleigu, IS2007, which has a total of 8.78 in the breeding assessment. 8.50 for conformation and 8.96 for ridden abilities. Jarl offspring’s have a lot af character, good gaits and there is always something special about them, some extra charisma. Already some have been shown in breeding assessments.

Þökk frá Árbæjarhjáleigu was the highest judged 4year old in 2015. In 2016 Eldey frá Árbæjarhjáleigu was shown and has 7.97. Last year Fura frá Árbæjarhjáleigu was shown 4-year-old and scored 8.12 in total. Two stallions went for breeding assessment also and both got 1.st. price. We know that many of Jarl’s offspring’s are heading for breeding assessment this summer and hopefully they will also be shown at Landsmót hestamanna in Reykjavík. Our breeding line is strongly connected to the great Ófeigur frá Flugumýri. Five of our breeding mares are his daughters. The qualities that we like so much from Ófeigur are the strong characters with a lot of movement and a great willingness. We would say that we breed our horses with the goal of having horses with a good character, charismatic looks, big movements and five good gaits with a big emphasis on good and clear beated tölt.

We focus a lot on certain qualities in our breeding - I would say we go a lot by feeling. What feeling does the stallion or mare give you when you see it or ride it. We try to use our instinct.

The whole family are looking forward to welcome this year’s Horse Expo guests. We are really excited. Jarl will be showed as well as his off springs. We have a lot of new talents in the stable which will hopefully show their best. We are really looking forward to welcome Horse Expo at Árbæjarhjáleiga and show the fruit of our breeding."

The photos below show Fura frá Árbæjarhjáleigu (four years old) and Hekla Katharína Kristinsdóttir, Þökk, and Jarl. 

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Kvistir

The Icelanders are warm and welcoming and the atmosphere on the farms are great. And the farm Kvistir is no exception - we guarantee that this visit will put a smile on your face. 

KVISTIR

Kvistir is a horse breeding farm located in the South of Iceland, little more than 1 hour drive from Reykjavik, close to town Hella. Kvistir is owned by Günther Weber and run by riding instructor and trainer Sigvaldi L. Gudmundsson, who lives there with his wife Marta Gunnarsdóttir and their two children Elísabet Líf and Helgi Hrafn. Sigvaldi started working at Kvistir in January 2016 after working as a riding instructor at Hólar University and later at the Agricultural University of Iceland.

"Kvistir is known to have bred great horses that have been successful in competition. Horses such as Oliver, Fannar and Muni frá Kvistum, which we have seen on the oval track at the World Championships, achieving great success. Also, we should mention the mare, Skíma frá Kvistum who attracted a lot of attention with her rider Árni Björn Pálsson.

One of our greatest breeding achievements is Ómur frá Kvistum. A stallion that has shown his excellence both in the breeding evaluation, where he reached the outstanding score of 9.5 both for pace and spirit, and also in competition where he showed his outstanding capabilities winning the A Class at LM 2011 with the rider Hinrik Bragason. He has been popular as a breeding stallion and his offsprings are attracting a lot of attention. At the 2014 LM held in Hella, we witnessed his son Konsert frá Hofi winning the 4-year-old stallions class with 8.72 – the highest score in the world in this class that year. There are many other offspring of Ómur that have already proven themselves, and we know that there are many more good results to come!

The goal here at Kvistir is to produce quality horses. We get 8-10 foals a year from 1st prize mares and every year we choose stallions we believe can give offspring that will attract attention both in beauty and talent. We strive for well built horses with high leg movements, great gaits and outstanding spirit who can suit both in competition and for pleasure riding.

We wish to give the Horse Expo visitors an insight to the Icelandic Horse by welcoming them to our stable and allowing them to have an up-close and personal look at our breeding, showing them our horses of all ages and give them a special opportunity to meet our big star, Ómur. And of course it is our hope that they will enjoy our company and lovely horses and have a pleasant experience at the farm."

 

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Þóroddsstaðir

Which stallion in Iceland is your favorite? The breeding farms will show us offsprings from many of the most well known and spectacular stallions. 

ÞÓRODDSSTAÐIR

Þóroddsstaðir – Laugarvatn is á well-known breeding farm. Horses have been bred there for more than half a century. The farm has been owned by the family since 1953. Horses from Þóroddsstaðir – Laugarvatn have been prominent all the time, and every now and then they have been among the best. 

“At Landsmót 2016 we had three horses of highest qualification: Hera, the world champion in 250 m pace (21,41 sec.), the five years old stallion Trausti (8,30 – 8,86 = 8,64; 9,5 for tölt, 9 for pace and three more 9s)  and the four years old filly Fjöður frá Þóroddsstöðum (8,04 – 8,56 = 8, 35; 9 for tölt and 9 for pace.) Many might also know the famous Þóroddur frá Þóroddsstöðum (8,28 – 9,04 = 8,74). And also many mares have been highly judged, some of them very young. Several stallions and breeding mares have got honorary prize for offspring.

Our breeding goal is to fulfill our dreams about well–shaped horses with great riding abilities. A special emphasis is on tölt and pace, healthy and right shaped feet, great mane and tale, willingness and good temperament. We like our horses to be easy to break in and easy to ride: Our children had their first and only riding experience on these horses. As grown-ups they have become outstanding riders and trainers. That is also a breeding goal, by the way! One could say that the breeding will soon be taken over by our son Bjarni, and many of the horses are already owned by him.

We are looking forward to welcome the Horse Expo guests, and first of all we would like our guests to have a pleasant and educating visit. We also hope it will help us marketing our breeding: The horses of course, and hopefully also our emphasis, mentality andideals in horse breeding.

We hope the Expo guests will enjoy the visit. They will see an ordinary family farm, which has been built up in a long time by its own money. The facilities may be better on many horse farms - on the other hand, we believe the horses are extraordinary and likely to be as good as it gets!"
 

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Halakot

The Icelandic Horse Expo takes you to some of the best breeding farms in Iceland. We get to talk with both the owners and horse trainers on the farms - and best of all - everyone enjoys to share their passion with you:

HALAKOT

"At Halakot you will find the fantastic history of the Icelandic horse and the inspiration in meeting your future friend and horse. Here you will find beautiful talented horses with strong over-line that carry themselves well, have good proportion and stable mentality. In addition to the breeding and training of horses, Svanhvít is a top competition rider and an appreciated instructor. With her extensive and long experience, she helps both rider and horse to reach their goals.

Many of the top horses bred at the farm Halakoti are under under the two famous mares Glóð frá Grjóteyri and Oddrún frá Halakoti. Glóð is mother to Glóðafeykir, Glódis, Glóey och Glóinn fra Halakoti. Alfarún is the offspring of Oddrún and the famous stallion Oddur frá Selfossi with ride ability score 8,86 year 1994. Oddur frá Selfoss who received the honorprice for offspring in 2002 has given important contributions to Halakots bloodlines.

One of our most famous stallions Glóðafeykir frá Halakoti, was bred and trained by us and won B-flokk at Landsmot with his best friend Einar Öder Magnusson in 2012."

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HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Sunnuhvoll

 

During the week in Iceland we will visit many different farms. Some of them have been run for many years and some are more newly established. Now we get to know a bit more about a place run by the entire family. Let’s welcome:

SUNNUHVOLL

Sunnuhvoll is the small family breeding that grew into being a family business with breeding, training and teaching Icelandic horses. At Sunnuhvoll they are a family of six: The parents Siggi and Anna and the kids Arnar, Glódís and Védís - and Arnar's girlfriend Árný. The family has lived at Sunnuhvoll for a little more than 20 years and just last year they built a new stable with a 20x40 riding hall and 32 boxes. Sunnuhvoll is located about 5 km west from Selfoss.

“You can say that this breeding started about 30 years ago when Anna got the mare Saga frá Litlu-Sandvík. She has had 17 offsprings that are the foundation in the breeding. Especially her daughter Urður frá Sunnuhvoli which gave horses like Tjörvi frá Sunnuhvoli, Nordic champion in tölt and the father of the World Champion Desert frá Litlalandi, and silver medalist Röskur frá Skjød. 

Our breeding goal is to breed soft supple gaits with elegance and a good character. We believe in quality over quantity and for a long time the breeding was only 2 mares but now has increased to 8, so we expect somewhere around 6-8 foals each year the next couple of years.

The bloodlines in our foals come from many directions but we look for a good character, clear gaits and big movements and a supple topline.

We are looking forward to welcome the Horse Expo group and hope to have a good time filled with knowledge about breeding and training.”

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Strandarhöfuð

What is the process of taking a young promising horse and creating a fully developed „gæðingur“? The breeding farms show us their young horses, ridning horses and future stars! Let's learn more about the next farm: 

Strandarhöfuð

Strandarhöfuð is a farm located on the south coast of Iceland, about one hours drive from Reykjavik. Standarhöfuð has been a horse breeding farm for many years but has only been run by current owners Guðmundur Már Stefansson and Auður M. Möller along with their family for 13 years. Guðmundur is a Consultant Plastic Surgeon and Auður is in charge of running the farm.

Every year we get between 8-10 foals. We have been very fortunate with the offsprings , at the moment there are a lot of promising horses in training and some of them already successful competition and breeding horses.

Our breeding goals are: To breed spirited high stepping “Gæðingur” meant for competition. We put a lot of emphasis on good temperament and clear gaits. When choosing a stallion for are breeding mares we look for these factors but also go by what our heart tells us. The main focus is not only on their rideability score but also their accomplishments on and off the track, bloodline and offsprings.

At our stable we have 8 stallions that we aim to present in competition and breeding shows this season. Some of them already have good scores in fizo and competition:

Frægur frá Strandarhöfði has been competing in Meistaradeildin, Íslandsmót and Landsmót 2016. Scored up to 7,50 in V1 and 7,60 in T2 and has four 9,0 in his breeding assessment.

Dökkvi frá Strandarhöfði scored 7,20 in his first competition in V1 and has two 9,0 and one 9,5 in his breeding assessment.

Last year we showed 7 horses from our breeding. 6 of them got first price and the 7th was a 4 year old stallion who scored 7,90 shown as a fourgaiter.

We have between 2-4 trainers working at Standarhöfuð, depending on the time of the year and at the moment our trainers are Ásmundur Ernir Snorrason, Stella Sólveig Pálmarsdóttir, Edda Rún Guðmundsdóttir and Matthía Elmar. All young trainers with a lot of experience in competition, from early childhood, and also accomplished riders in breeding shows.

We look forward to your visit to our farm, to get to know more people who share the same passion as we do and to make new friends in the Icelandic horse world.

Look forward to seeing you in Strandarhöfuð!"

 

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: The breeding from Stóra-Vatnsskarð

The countdown for Horse Expo Spring-South 2018 has begun! Let's continue the preparations for this spectacular event by presenting the great farm:

Stóra-Vatnsskarð, Kvistir

Now you get to see the mare with the highest breeding evaluation in the world - Lukka frá Stóra-Vatnsskarði. Nearby Selfoss Benedikt and Guðrún live on the farm Kvistir. Here they train and breed the horses from Stóra-Vatnsskarð and Benni has promised that his best horses will be in the stable when the Horse Expo guests arrive:

“Stóra-Vatnsskarð has been breeding horses from the beginning of last century. 

Our main focus is that or horses are lightly built and courageous, and the landscape at Stóra-Vatnsskarð in the north of Iceland is therefor the perfect place to raise these kind of horses.

Our best success in breeding was on Landsmót 2008 when Lukka frá Stóra-Vatnsskarði received 8.46 for conformation and 9.18 for ridden abilities, which makes 8.89 in total. That made her at that time the highest judged horse in the world. Lukka still has the highest score of all mares in the world and she has given us now 9 offsprings that all look good. 

The breeding mares are located at Kvistir in Ölfus, where our horses are also trained and we live, but our young horses are raised at Stóra-Vatnsskarð.

Our goal is to breed tall horses with long legs, a good neck, with the main focus being a good and strong overline. Regarding the gaits and talent we are aiming to breed good 5 gaited horses with good tölt and high movements, but we have also breed some really good 4 gaited horses. We are aiming to breed charming horses with a good temper. 

The guests can be looking forward to see really good horses when visiting us. We will be  showing horses under rider, talk about the promising young horses, see the foals from 2017, and the brood mares will be on a field next to the stable.”

 

Curious about which scores Lukka received? Here are the marks: 

Conformation: 

Head: 8 

Neck-Withers-Shoulders: 9 

Back and Croup: 8 

Proportions: 8.5 

Legs: 8 

Joints: 7.5 

Hooves: 9

Mane and Tail: 8 

Conformation: 8.46

 

Ridden abilities: 

Tölt: 9.5

Trot: 9

Pace: 8.5

Gallop: 8.5

Spirit: 9.5

General impression: 9.5

Walk: 8

Rideability: 9.18

Slow tölt: 9 

Canter: 8 

TOTAL: 8.89

 

First photo shows Lukka in the breeding show. 

HORSE EXPO SPRING-SOUTH PRESENTS: Austurkot

The Horse Expo Spring is coming closer! From 3 - 8 April 2018 the Icelandic Horse Expo will be visiting some of the best breeding farms in the south, attend amazing horse shows and get close to Icelandic nature and cuisine.

Like last year you can now prepare for your trip – or get tempted to join us before we are fully booked – by reading our brand new interviews with the participating breeders. First, we proudly present Austurkot:

 

AUSTURKOT 

Austurkot is a horse farm situated in the south of Iceland, only 55 km from the city of Reykjavik and 3 km from the town of Selfoss. Austurkot is owned by Hugrún Jóhannsdóttir and Páll Bragi Hólmarsson, who are both certified horse trainers and riding teachers (FT).

“We are breeding horses on a professional level. We are really proud of our many first price mares and are enjoying to have good stables and fields for our horses. We have been living on the farm since 1999. 

One of our best breeding achievements must be the mare Álfadrottning fro Austurkot. At Landsmót in 2012 she came second among the 7 years old mares. From the breeding assessment she has 9 for head and legs, but also for pace, spirit and generel impression. 

We get 10 foals every year and our main goal is to breed beautiful horses that have a great mind and spirit. The horses should be willing to work together with the rider and enjoy working. We also strive to breed horses with long legs, a well-set neck and muscled back. 

We are looking forward to welcome the Horse Expo guests - and we are sure that everybody will be enjoying the great horses and good coffee here at Austurkot.”

DAY 5: PERFECT ENDING OF A GREAT WEEK

On the last day of the Icelandic Horse Expo tour we woke up to a clear blue sky and sunshine. No one showed any signs of tiredness after the party last night, and after an excellent breakfast some of us enjoyed a cup of coffee on the terrace before embarking the bus for todays drive.

While driving through the scenic landscape of the north, our guide Petra was telling us a little about the history of Iceland. For example, many farms have through the centuries kept the same name that they were given by the first Viking settlers in Iceland, over a thousand years ago. You can find the names in the Book of Settlement and the Icelandic sagas, written in the 12:th century.

Today we had the great pleasure to visit the Gauksmýri farm. Like many of the other farms we have visited this is a family business, and at Gauksmýri we met Jóhann, his girlfriend Kolla and his daughter Hrund. They do not only breed and train horses, but run both a hotel with an excellent restaurant, a horse rental and are also putting on a horse show every day from the beginning of May until middle of October. The show is set up as an introduction to the Icelandic horse, its special gaits and other characteristics, and is very popular among the many foreigners visiting Iceland.

Gauks-4.jpg

After a very nice lunch we went outside to see the show, performed in all gaits at the oval track just by the restaurant. We got to see three first prize horses ridden, for example the "King of the farm", Karrí frá Gauksmýri. Then we were invited to see the stables, and get a close look at both young horses, stallions and rental horses.

A beautiful sunset greeted us when we arrived to Keflavik,  with many, manyexperiences, memories, information and pictures to bring home.

We want to thank everybody for a fantastic week – our guests for visiting us and their endless interest in the Icelandic horse – and the breeders and the Icelandic horsepeople for inviting us and putting so much effort in making the visits an unforgettable experience. Hope to see you all again in Iceland or somewhere else!

DAY 4: THE MAGNIFICIENT LAUFSKÁLARÉTT!

As the people in Skagafjörður say: The day of Laufskálarétt is almost a holy day. Bringing the free roaming horses down from the mountains to the round up corral at Laufskálarétt, all families, friends and guests gather together to chat, laugh and sing old as well as new Icelandic songs. Some are enjoying a beer or two, and of course the delicious Icelandic kjötsúpa!

Some members of the Horse Expo group had the pleasure of riding with the herd down to the corral, together with Rúnar and the people from Dýrfinnustaðir.  The rest of the group went for a visit to the Glaumbær museum. In that way both groups got a chance to get closer to the Icelandic culture and traditions.

After Glaumbær the non-riding group drove to the round up and watched the big herds of horses coming down from the mountains, accompanied by more than 300 riders. The misty weather gave a special mystic touch to the gorgeous landscape surrounding us, and the sight of all the horses running like a river down the hill side was truly magnificent!

Afterwards we could all enjoy seeing how each farm sorted out their own horses from the herd. Some of the horses had tried it before, some of the younger ones made quite a show, but the Icelanders always keep calm, and took everything with a smile.

There is a tradition of selling and buying horses at the round up in Laufskálarétt, and of course today was no exception. A couple of the Horse Expo participants fell instantly in love with some foals in the herd and made a spontaneous decision to go ahead and make a deal. We wish them the best of luck in the future!

In the evening, we had a nice dinner at Hótel Varmahlíð and then continued to a barn party at the stables of Vatnsleysa. Icelanders and Germans got engaged in a kind of a singing competition, which was great fun! Some of the most eager party people then hit the dance floor at Hótel Varmahlíð, where a live band was playing. This day will for sure live in our memories for a long, long time!

DAY 3: IMPRESSIVE YOUNGSTERS AND LEGENDS!

Yet another excellent day at the Horse Expo! After a good nights´ sleep and a solid breakfast at Hótel Varmahlíð and the Hestasport cottages, we went for todays first visit. At Miðsitja we met the owners Magnús, Ingunn, Birgir and Ása together with their team. While showing us some of their very interesting young horses from famous stallions, like Spuni frá Vesturkoti and Ómur frá Kvistum, they introduced us to their breeding history and philosophy. Their goal is to breed beautiful horses with excellent proportions and a lot of tölt, and obviously they are doing really well! It was a great pleasure to stroll around the stable with a cup of hot coffee and some Icelandic snacks, while chatting with the friendly staff and studying the pedigrees of their great horses.

Our next stop was at Varmaland, and as soon as we stepped out of the bus we heard some music coming from the stable. Inside we found not only the owners Sigurgeir and Birna and their team, but also their neighbor Geirmundur who happens to be Iceland´s most well known accordion player. He was entertaining us as we took the tour of the stable, where we of course found a whole bunch of fantastic horses.  We were treated with both cold and hot drinks toghether with some tasty Icelandic specialities, and then a demonstration of the Aqua Trainer. We were also shown horses in different stages of education, spanning from a recently started three-year old to well-known competition horses. Last but not least we were amazed by the stunningly beautiful first prize stallion Erró frá Ási 2, shown free running in the riding hall. After a couple of hours we had to say goodbye to all the nice people and horses, and head towards lunch.

The clouds were gone and the sun was shining as we drove through the scenic landscape, even more beautiful with a little snow on the mountaintops. We stopped for lunch at Hofsstaðir, well known for excellent service and good food.

lunch-1.jpg

Our last visit today was at Vatnsleysa, a farm with a long history of breeding. The owners Björn and Árndís greeted us outside the stable, and started with telling us about the history of the farm. Björns father started building up  the breeding in 1966, mainly with Kolkúos bloodlines and offsprings from Lýsingur frá Voðmúlastöðum. Some of their top stallions, for example Hraunar frá Vatnsleysu, were presented to us, and the special characteristics and movements of the Vatnsleysu breed was very obvious in all of them. Finally we got to visit the famous Glampi frá Vatnsleysu in his field, now 28 years old and retired but it was really nice seeing him enjoying a good life with his best friend. 

After Vatnsleysa we headed home for dinner at Hótel Varmahlið, and then it was time to visit the Laufskálarétt Horse Show at the riding hall in Sauðárkrókur. One great horse after another was presented, there were world champion riders and many first prize horses. Great fun, with a lot of singing, humor and high spirits. A memorable way to finish a great day!