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!